Jump to content


Dealing with Mothers of Dancing Girls


  • Please log in to reply
43 replies to this topic

#1 LBBalletMom

LBBalletMom

    New Member

  • New Member
  • Pip
  • 16 posts
  • Connection to/Interest in Ballet:former dancer/current ballet mom

Posted 12 May 2011 - 11:46 PM

My sons have only been taking ballet for a couple of months, but I am already tired of the reactions I get from the mothers of girls who have to stop for a beat and collect themselves before they respond to the fact that I have just informed them my dancing children are BOYS, not girls. This is almost always followed by a condescending comment about how great it is because "they always need boys" for the annual production of "The Nutcracker," as if they couldn't possibly have any real talent, but are just bodies to fill the costumes.

I also notice that the dads stare at them a lot when they come out of class (wondering what kind of mean mom I am to make them do this, perhaps?). You would think if you were going to find supportive adults, it would be at the ballet academy. Who exactly do these parents think are going stand behind their daughters and make them look good doing triple pirouettes if there aren't any boys at the school?

Maybe I am overreacting, but it is still annoying.

#2 HuckleberryDawg

HuckleberryDawg

    Senior Member

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 136 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Interests:Ballet, sewing, reading, anything my kids are up to
  • Connection to/Interest in Ballet:Parent

Posted 13 May 2011 - 12:43 AM

Maybe I am overreacting, but it is still annoying.



I know it can seem that way; but I would try giving them the benefit of the doubt if you can. The thing is that there simply *aren't* that many boys at most ballet schools and people do look twice. The parents are surrounded by pink almost always -- many of the mixed classes never actually have a boy in them -- so they can be forgiven for the assumption that your kids are girls until they know otherwise. It's a reasonable assumption. Maybe imagine that the momentary pause is them thinking "Ooof! How sexist was I?" before trying to be encouraging. It may not actually be what *all* of them are thinking; but it will make your life easier to believe it is! :-) Also, at the younger ages (7 and 10 from your other post, I think?) the big performance opportunity for the kids, aside from their recital, *is* the annual Nutcracker. Chances are most of the girls that age are not in the company or second company if the school has one so when they think of where boys are needed their minds are naturally going to run to the one performance they know. And, heck, who are we kidding? They *do* need boys for The Nutcracker! But they honestly are probably not thinking "Oh, good, they always need boys for the <insert name of ballet> our daughters will perform in ten years from now..." Nutcracker is an obvious near term thing.

I would add, too, that I'm pretty sure the dads take a second look at the boys; but probably they aren't judging you. They, too, are used to watching herds of pink go by and that lone patch of black and white will catch their eye. Also, if they've been hanging out in the lobby for hours, they're probably dying to see anything even vaguely interesting! ;-)

Maybe put the dukes down a little bit and see how things go over the year. In my experience, which is very, very limited, the girl moms in DS's class have been very supportive and have mentioned several times how glad their daughters are to have a boy in the class.

Edited by HuckleberryDawg, 13 May 2011 - 12:45 AM.


#3 Clara 76

Clara 76

    Diamonds Circle

  • Global Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 16,144 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Connection to/Interest in Ballet:Ex-ballet dancer, Company Shoe Mistress, ballet teacher, and mom of a male dancer!

Posted 13 May 2011 - 12:51 AM

And some of those fathers may be wishing that their parents were as enlightened as you are... :)

Remember that any time you swim upstream when most are heading the other way you present a challenge to the prevailing mindset, forcing others to rethink their small worlds. That is usually not welcomed. However, with patience and a sense of humor on your part, good results can be expected- for the most part!

Think of your job as educating everyone who doesn't understand. Yes, that will include parents of "pinkies". :(

"A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor"- (Currently poking Poseidon in the netherworld with his trident)

"Christian Louboutins are uncomfortable, but I screamed the first time I put on a pointe shoe." Mila Kunis


#4 Mel Johnson

Mel Johnson

    Ballet Master

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 23,220 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Interests:Ballet, history, music, art, fine wines, roses, things that go BOOM!
  • Connection to/Interest in Ballet:Teacher

Posted 13 May 2011 - 02:39 AM

followed by a condescending comment about how great it is because "they always need boys"


Jump right in with "like the Marine Corps; a few good men". :(
Mr. Johnson
Ballet Talk for Dancers Ballet Master.

#5 moddydave

moddydave

    Member

  • PTA Member
  • PipPip
  • 54 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Connection to/Interest in Ballet:parent

Posted 14 May 2011 - 04:03 PM

I think there's always at least a slight inborn resentment from other mothers [and maybe fathers], right up into the senior years, that boys have an easier time of it than the girls.
As the father of a DS - I 'resent' that resentment - boys have to work just as hard as the girls! But, on the other hand, there's some truth in it. Boys do tend to get more scholarships. There's fierce competition for professional jobs but the men appear to be more in demand. And boys don't have to dance on pointe!
I hope you'll find that the school is delighted to have your 2 boys and will jump through hoops to keep them! Of course that may only make the other mums more jealous!
The more enlightened parents will be pleased to have a male presence in their kids' classes.

#6 cheetah

cheetah

    Platinum Circle

  • Parents of Professional Dancers
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,511 posts
  • Connection to/Interest in Ballet:parent of DS

Posted 14 May 2011 - 05:17 PM

Smile and go on with your life. Find a book and stay outside. As you all (in your studio) become more educated in the world of ballet you will find that it's a hard road for all of them and it does no good for anyone to speculate on which sex has it harder. Girls must dance en pointe but boys must perform some lifts that I really don't think their bodies are made to do. The time when the lone boy was guaranteed success is over now, though that seems to still be the perception of many - there is far more competition than many people believe, especially when factoring in the international competition. And while there are roles - near term - in Nutcracker, those opportunities will dwindle for a few years unless your AD is very creative in choreographing. We watched the girls get new and exciting roles every year as they "moved up" the ranks in the production, from party girl to mouse to big mouse to flower corp to finally snow corps and then the Act II pieces. My son was too big for Fritz and not big enough for the prince, or even the Mouse King. He did the same 45 second variation - Trepak - for three years during this time. The girls had multiple roles. But we all had to sit around for the same way-too-long rehearsals. And pay the same stage fee and costume fee. And DVD fee.

Anytime someone challenges the status quo there are bound to be looks, comments, and speculation. Have you made snap judgments when a girl was playing little league baseball? I certainly used to do so! I gave second looks and wondered why the parents weren't having her play softball which, quite honestly, generates a lot better college scholarship opportunities (for women) than baseball does (for men) - and baseball generates zero scholarships for girls! So why take away opportunities on the field for my son? Why isn't she playing soccer or cheering - or taking ballet!?! Observing the behavior of others is a great lesson and opportunity to review our own behavior, too.

#7 Dance_dad

Dance_dad

    New Member

  • New Member
  • Pip
  • 15 posts
  • Connection to/Interest in Ballet:Parent of Teen Male dancer

Posted 16 May 2011 - 12:02 PM

LB Ballet Mom, Being the male parent of a DS I know what you are going through. When I would be at studio I found myself as an outsider to many of the conversations between the many dancing moms. After many months when they realized my DS was serious about dance they began to become more friendly. I had a few asking me how I was able to get my son to dance under the context that they wanted their sons to dance.

My advice to you would be to give it time and I certainly wouldn't be offended by the nutcracker comment. When nutcracker season does arrive you will realize how magical of a time it is for the young girls (and their parents), many who were drawn to ballet because of watching a nutcracker production. Boys are always needed for the production, my DS was in both cast A and B whereas the girls would often only be in one cast.

#8 Albini

Albini

    Bronze Circle

  • PTA Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 267 posts
  • Connection to/Interest in Ballet:Mum

Posted 17 May 2011 - 11:28 AM

My biggest issue with having a dancing son (and a daughter) is that the school always has little things for girls. Free hair nets, or a free hiar piece that matches the leo. Or pretty dance bags. Even the news letters will say something about girls in it.

I have mentioned it, and I know it will take time to chance, even tho the teacher is male.


My "I highly doubt DS would wear that hair piece" brought it up with a bit of humour.

On the other hand, my son is coddled by the dancing girls. He always waits until they get their drinks before taking his. But now the race to bring him a drink. Or they open the door for him, when before he woudl open it for them.

I say nothing b/c I feel it will pass. And do remind my son that he is always expected to use his mannars, which have become better and better since dance.

#9 cheetah

cheetah

    Platinum Circle

  • Parents of Professional Dancers
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,511 posts
  • Connection to/Interest in Ballet:parent of DS

Posted 17 May 2011 - 11:35 AM

Dance dad - We always found that my DH was treated quite a bit differently when he took our son to class as opposed to when I took him. At least initially. I received a lot more negative looks and comments. The same people would gush to my DH about how incredible that he was allowing DS to pursue ballet. A mother that brings a son seems to automatically generate a judgment that "if the father knew he would certainly not permit this" or "you must really be bribing your son to get him here" (yes, these are comments I've heard) - not by all parents but certainly by quite a few that we encountered. I know I was constantly asked, "What does your husband think about this?"

#10 HuckleberryDawg

HuckleberryDawg

    Senior Member

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 136 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Interests:Ballet, sewing, reading, anything my kids are up to
  • Connection to/Interest in Ballet:Parent

Posted 17 May 2011 - 03:45 PM

"What does your husband think about this?"


LOL! We get that question all the time! And its' relation: "So how is your husband adjusting to all of this?" I just answer "He's pretty pleased about how much my son seems to be enjoying himself."

#11 cheetah

cheetah

    Platinum Circle

  • Parents of Professional Dancers
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,511 posts
  • Connection to/Interest in Ballet:parent of DS

Posted 17 May 2011 - 04:36 PM

Once you seem to indicate that both you AND your husband are on board with the ballet "thing" then I find that attitudes start to shift. Always felt bad for those moms who were single mothers, though. For one woman I know, it took her a lot longer for the waiting room moms to accept her son as a serious student. Right or wrong, it's just what we've unfortunately observed.

#12 Albini

Albini

    Bronze Circle

  • PTA Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 267 posts
  • Connection to/Interest in Ballet:Mum

Posted 18 May 2011 - 08:35 AM

I wonder if its been easier for me b/c I also have a dancing daughter and I help with alot of the costuming for the kids? I really havent heard any negative comments directed at my son.

Ay my daughter...alot of negative comments in the beginning. Not so much now tho. She has proved she is just as good as the other girls in her stream.

#13 v_t_

v_t_

    New Member

  • New Member
  • Pip
  • 8 posts
  • Connection to/Interest in Ballet:Parent of student

Posted 21 May 2011 - 04:36 PM

Happily, so far at our school I haven't noticed any of this attitude. All the parents of the girls seem to be very accepting of the boy students, and the school very accomodating! No weird looks from the dads, either, I guess everyone's just used to seeing the boy dancers, since they have been in the school now for quite some time.

My son tells me that the boys are even a lot better dancers than most the girls and the teacher says they follow directions better :)

#14 abbey

abbey

    New Member

  • New Member
  • Pip
  • 15 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Interests:supporting my young ballerino and ballerina
  • Connection to/Interest in Ballet:parent, former dancer

Posted 17 June 2011 - 09:28 AM

I guess I've been lucky, because I don't think I've come across any negative attitudes so far. Possibly some slight surprise or mild curiosity -- the boys *are* in the minority after all! -- but certainly nothing negative.

My only frustration has been the feeling that boys are so often an afterthought. The cast t-shirts for children (in Nutcracker or spring recital) are often *very* feminine (pink! with a sparkly tiara! hearts!) and my son's left shrugging his shoulders and wondering why he's excluded in that way. Is it something he can't get over? No, of course not. But he works hard too and this does make him feel left out, less valuable... It comes up in other ways too.

My way of combatting any of this has been to try to be a positive ambassador for young boys in dance. Yes, they DO need boys for Nutcracker (and every other production, and even more so as boys get older!). That's not a bad thing. It's a start towards recognizing that it's important to have boys dancing too. I try to let people know, not in a surly or foot-stomping way, but gently, "Hey, this year's t-shirt is pretty girly. I know ds and some of the other boys were disappointed... Maybe there's a way to do something more neutral next year?" Just so they know that it *does* matter to somebody. If parents ask me about ds dancing, I let them know how much he loves it, the positive things I think he gains by participating, how much he loves some of the teachers (especially the male teachers he has the chance to work with). I *ask* them if their sons are interested in dance and encourage them to consider letting them participate. When I converse with non-dance families who mention a son might be interested, I share what little knowledge we have in hopes that their sons will get the opportunity to try it.

But yeah, I think we've been really lucky in that all of the curiosity and questions and even second glances have been very positive.

#15 Francesca

Francesca

    New Member

  • New Member
  • Pip
  • 13 posts
  • Connection to/Interest in Ballet:ballet mom

Posted 07 August 2011 - 09:37 AM

My sons have only been taking ballet for a couple of months, but I am already tired of the reactions I get from the mothers of girls who have to stop for a beat and collect themselves before they respond to the fact that I have just informed them my dancing children are BOYS, not girls. This is almost always followed by a condescending comment about how great it is because "they always need boys" for the annual production of "The Nutcracker," as if they couldn't possibly have any real talent, but are just bodies to fill the costumes.

I also notice that the dads stare at them a lot when they come out of class (wondering what kind of mean mom I am to make them do this, perhaps?). You would think if you were going to find supportive adults, it would be at the ballet academy. Who exactly do these parents think are going stand behind their daughters and make them look good doing triple pirouettes if there aren't any boys at the school?

Maybe I am overreacting, but it is still annoying.

This has happened to me on several occasions and it was not just annoying, it was quite upsetting! so I can say that I really do know how you feel, I have managed to hold back my anger up to now but its not easy! :unsure: