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Ballet Talk for Dancers
pbs

Teasing

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pbs

Just curious as to opinions. My son (4th grade) is very serious about his ballet training; thinks he wants to be a dancer when older... In the last 6 months he's performed with a few professional companies.

 

Recently he told me he is being teased by a classmate (male) -- calling him "ballerina boy." He tells me he is ignoring this kid's chiding but obviously it bothers him.

 

I know (and he does) that some kids will be supportive and others won't - both boys and girls.

 

Any words of wisdom to pass along to help him deal?

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Small Slipper

I feel for your son, and I am sure there are many people on this board with alot more experience than I, but I will tell you this...

I have a son in 2nd grade who dances and I will share with you what he said to someone who said, "boys dont dance-why do you dance?" he responded with, "because it makes you strong- want me to show you how strong it makes you?" The kid didnt take him up on it! LOL Just reminded me of something out of an "Our Gang" episode!

 

But in all reality- I would tell him to ignore him- he doesnt owe any explanation to this boy. Walk away and see if that ends it- you never know in a few years they may be fast friends! :unsure:

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cheetah

Teasing at that age (4th grade is usually 9-10) is usually brief. When no reaction is received, it usually goes away!

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Tuesday

Hi pbs,

 

My DS started dancing in 4th grade, and also performed with the local company at that age, so many kids wound up seeing him onstage when the class would come to the shows that the company did just for school children. He was prepared to deal with whatever teasing happened, but luckily for him, there wasn't too much of an issue.

 

What I suggested was to ignore, like your son is doing. It worked for him.

 

If it keeps up much longer, progresses to insults about his sexuality, or gets physical, I would not hesitate to talk to the teacher or principal at the school.

 

Best wishes to you both :unsure:

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Mel Johnson

Yes, use the "tell method" first, but if he gets cornered, he can always kick his harasser in the shin. Works great!

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Clara 76

Most unfortunately, it is a very common occurrance:

Emotional Support

 

Read through some of the posts on that thread. There may be some ideas there for you. Other than that, I tell my boys to their heads high, because they are following their dreams. The teasers will end up suffering in some dead-end job whining about how miserable they are. Their glory days will end as soon as high school graduation is done. Kids who follow their dreams become awesome adults.

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Small Slipper

What wonderful advice Clara 76!!! ;)

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Mel Johnson

I was only halfway kidding about fighting back. If a person is being physically threatened, in this hypothetical case cornered, the use of force to effect escape is lawful. However, a lot of schools these days are using "zero tolerance" for use of force. Both kids will get suspended. Let me say right off that I have zero tolerance for zero tolerance. It takes thinking out of the process. So, if your kid is being threatened in a no-escape situation, it's still OK to yell "FIRE!" First off, it may startle the aggressor into looking away to see where the fire is, allowing escape, second, people no longer respond to the call of "HELP!" Sexual harassment trainings recommend this tactic to attract attention to a bad situation. And this IS sexual harassment. Then, the next step has to be to inform the authorities.

 

If an aggressor learns that there is no consequence to sexual harassment, he will simply continue, and probably get worse!

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pbs

Thanks all for the words of wisdom. Pretty much verified what i was already thinking. For now, i'll just encourage him to ignore this kid (or any others) and just be proud and continue to follow his dream.

 

:thumbsup:

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angiered

My son is 10 and has had a few questions. There were two things that really went a long way towards helping him cope.

 

First, we practiced a few things he could say in return, so that he always has a snappy comeback.

 

Second, I talked to his class for career day (I'm a costume designer/wardrobe mistress). I brought a full classical tutu with me and held it up onto my shoulder (like a shoulder sit). We talked about how the men who dance have to be extremely strong to lift a ballet dancer onto their shoulder and walk around that way without looking like a doofus. :shrug: I also explained that the men wear tight clothes so that you can see their muscles while they dance.

 

It was funny to see the boys react to that. They kind of looked at him like "WOW" :blushing:

 

All that to say, I do think that you can help 'arm' your son with the tools he needs to deal with teasing.

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Guest cs1987

I dacned for many years, and was teased. Does he play sports, if hed does he can tell the kid it makes him stonger for sports. If not he can just igonre the kid, if he is the only kid he probally just jealour his parents may not let him dance becuase they think its wrong for boys. He has got that idea from someone, kids this age have heard from somewhre where boys are not suppose to dance. If you son would not be too embrassed or shy if they have show and tell he could share his love of dance.

 

Could also look up names of famous sports players who have danced or have taken ballet. Jus tell him to hang in there, most boys have been through it, I was through jr high when they neww I could kick all there butts.

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BowlderMan

There was a good article in Newsweek a while back about this: http://www.newsweek.com/id/120061

 

My son (13) doesn't get teased. One reason is that our community, in general, is supportive of the arts, so it's kind of viewed (even by kids) as uncool to tease anyone for anything to do with the arts. Also, he's probably one of the best athletes for his age in town. We've seen a lot of his sports-only peers at his performances, and not one of them has ever said anything to tease him. I think they not only respect what he's doing (because they usually have a sister who dances, so they know how difficult it is), but may have gotten tagged in the head by him when he played catcher, or juked out of their cleats by him during a soccer game. Yes, ballet absolutely improves skills in sports (and vice versa, IMHO). The local high school baseball coach is a friend of mine, and has a superstar son, but he lamented one time that he never put his son into dance - he said that he can see what it did for my son's abilities in sports.

 

Finally, in terms of responses to teasing, I have always reminded my son that if some guy says something about his dancing, he could always remind the kid that he gets to hang out with the most attractive, fit, intelligent girls in town - who does he hang out with?

 

Heck, I see how much he enjoys it, I wish my parents were familiar enough with ballet to put me into it!

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Clara 76

Insidesoloist suggested this: :)

"I think the book "Please Stop Laughing At Us!" by Jodee Blanco is worth mentioning to any parent dealing with a child who is being harassed or bullied. It deals more globally with school bullying, but I feel it has an important message for the parents of children who are bullied, whether it is occasionally or habitually."

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balletmom2

Having had some experience with this a number of years ago, I am reluctant to agree that telling your son to ignore the teasing is a good idea. For one thing, it really is hurtful and sometimes the message to "ignore it" can feel like an invalidation of that hurt. On the other hand, you don't want it to become his main focus at school. While this MAY be a brief experience for him, it also might continue and escalate. So here are some suggestions...if there is an adult in the school that he likes/trusts, I would (with your son's permission) let that person know what's going on so that they can be your eyes and ears. If the Phys Ed or Athletic Director at your school has an open mind, invite them to watch a men's ballet class or a partnering class at the company your son has danced with (with their permission). I guarantee they will never look at male dancers the same way again. I say this because PE classes are often where this stuff happens...there's less monitoring and things can be a bit more free-wheeling. As he gets older, if this continues, keep in mind that you may hear very little of what's going on....this is a very sensitive age and these are very sensitive issues. So keep an eye out for what he may not be able to vocalize. Best wishes.

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BowlderMan

Great points, balletmom2! Especially the idea about getting the class to watch a men's or partnering class. Even though I have a pretty good idea how hard ballet is, I always go to a class or two during my son's school's "visiting week" and am reminded of all the hard work he has been doing. This last time, I went to his partnering class. Holy cow, is that ever difficult! In fact, I talked with his teacher afterwards and told him that anyone who wants to watch a ballet performance should be required to come watch a partnering class to appreciate how difficult it is. As I noted in an earlier post, though, I think a lot of the other boys in our city have sisters who dance, so they seem to already know about the hard work involved. He will be starting high school in the fall, so we'll see if this favorable trend continues.

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