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Ballet Talk for Dancers
silkmaiden

When you get comments from moms of girls.....

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silkmaiden   
silkmaiden

This is mostly meant in a humorous tone, as I'm really not upset by this. (Well, yet anyways).

 

I'd love to hear how other parents of dancing boys deal with comments made in a sometimes not-so-nice fashion from parents of girls.

 

Just the other week one of the moms told me how it must be nice to have boys, since they always get the solo roles and the central position in group dances and pics. And how going forward they'll always get to be special.

 

She framed it jokingly, but I couldn't help but hear the envy underneath the comment. As an aside, her daughter is much older than my sons, so they aren't in the same peer group at all. I joked back and said something about how they're cheaper too, never having to deal with expensive tutus or pointe shoes.

 

But going forward, I know for sure I will be dealing with the snide little comments a lot more. I'm curious what everyone hear has experienced and what your comebacks have been? I'm sure I'll probably be needing them a lot more in the next few years! And my first response, which pretty much is 'well gee, it's not like I had a choice in their gender' probably wouldn't go over too well!

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jflyte   
jflyte

Those comments don't really bother me, and I have both a dd and a ds. At our studio, boys really do have to be good to get the solo roles, even though there are so few males. Anyone who has been there for a while knows this. However, I know my dd won't have as many opportunities as her brother. It sometimes makes me a little sad for her, but not mad. I guess I just have thick skin, and that definitely is a plus in the ballet world.

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Thyme   
Thyme

Sigh. This is actually a complex question silkmaiden. I haven't had much of this overt questioning but it is implicit in much conversation with moms of girls. First of all, I think we need to acknowledge that she is speaking the truth. From one perspective boys do benefit from special attention, scholarships etc. The forum is littered with concerns from parents about teachers getting very excited about our sons (have my own experiences on that one!) and the boys being pushed and fussed over. It is true our costs are lower (no pointe shoes or tutus for instance) plus scholarships seem easier to come by. Summer programs rely on our sons so that they can teacher partnering. My DS is often centre stage in group performances. He isn't the best dancer but he is noticed the most. I sympathise with the girls and the mothers of the girls about all of this and keep my mouth shut. I don't complain about any of my costs to them! On the flip side, our boys can be socially isolated from other boys. Many are bullied and potentially beat up because of their dancing. I bet the girls don't have that particular problem. Our boys are going outside the norm and have to really want it (to dance) in order to keep going. So in the end I think it all balances out but I don't tell the mothers of girls this. Until they have a DS or know a boy well, they don't necessarily understand. Being the mother of a dancing girl is a big job. We all have our roads. So I don't have any smart responses to these questions and comments. I just acknowledge the true parts and leave it at that.

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chel   
chel

Well said Thyme. We do each have our burdens on this journey. I am lucky that DS is in a program large enough to have a separate boys class each week and DS only has one class out of eight in which he is the only boy. I tend to seek out boy parents in the studio waiting area just to avoid those conversations. When they happen I will agree to the grain of truth in the complaint and move on.

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silkmaiden   
silkmaiden

Thank you for the thoughtful replies! And, very wise and astute thoughts, Thyme. It is complicated.

 

The irony for me is, that I've always longed for a little girl, but I ended up with 3 boys. So go figure! The grass is always greener on the other side, etc.

 

So far my reaction to not-so-nice dance mom snark has been, in general, to just take the good and leave the bad. When the conversation turns snarky I usually just stop talking and exit the conversation, if not by actually leaving, at least by not participating. I imagine I'll just continue to do that.

 

Our school is pretty small, and there are maybe a grand total of 4-5 boys in the WHOLE school. So considering I have two sons dancing, we get noticed! I haven't had any nasty things said yet, but my kids are young and still at the stage where every recital piece is a group number anyways. It'll be a long time before they get to the levels with solo parts.

 

We're an odd duck family anyhow, LOL, since I'm usually IN the classes these moms' teen daughters are in, so no matter what we don't really fit in. Oh well!

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Thyme   
Thyme

Hi silkmaiden- the 'not so nice snarky' stuff comes in all shapes and forms. If it isn't your DSs it sounds like it might be something else. There have been lots of threads on that too!! :) Some of us minimise the time we spend at studios where this is a problem. I think it is a culture problem in many studios. Certainly was in our last one. We have changed studios and are in a happier place where this kind of thing is minimal. Hang in there- keep your eye out for other studios if it all gets too much. good luck on the road!

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silkmaiden   
silkmaiden

Thyme, it doesn't bother me. :) Really. That's the great thing about actually taking so much dancing myself, I'm far too busy trying to worry about my own technique and choreography to have half a brain cell left to get involved in gossip.

 

I'm mostly amused when I do overhear conversation that could be straight out of an episode of 'Dance Moms'.

 

I'm only ever in the waiting room when waiting for my own class anyways. I make my husband take the kids to their classes so I don't have to deal with the parents!

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CeliB   
CeliB

I have to say the response I have had to my dancing son has been almost overwhelmingly positive- as if I have somehow managed to create a dancer through my own personal brilliance (ha ha). If ever anyone does start talking about how much easier it is for boys.....well frankly I agree with them wholeheartedly. To be honest it's true- we live in a rabidly capitalist society and the laws of supply and demand apply. I don't agree with it (would like nothing better than an equal society) but there's no point pretending what we have now is equality... It's the same hypocrisy that says we have to have non competitive sports day in primary school (do you do that in the USA or is it just the UK that's insane?) but the same children are grouped by academic ability and EVERY child in the class knows who is the 'best at maths'; or 'best at reading' etc. Also I don't think male dancers suffer quite the same body stress as female ones- the biggest problem seems to be how to stuff in sufficient calories!

 

I would follow up of course by saying that at the top levels it's no easier to be a boy- to be a lead principal male you have to be as exceptional as a lead principal female. Plus there are a lot more girls than boys in the corps in general (think of all those swans!!!). But by and large if you agree with snipey comments it stops them dead as they have no conflict to thrive on!

 

Of course I don't want to offend those of you whose boys have had a hard time from their peers over their dancing- I acknowledge this is a very real problem especially at the younger ages, and terribly distressing. It's just mine hasn't ever been on the receiving end of any, so I guess I have a different perspective.....

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leaper   
leaper

I have taken much the same strategy as CeliB. We are in the college audition circuit after 13 years in the same ballet school where the male to female ratio has consistently been 1:10. The experience is overwhelmingly positive, however I have consistently qualified my input and comments to parents of female dancers with, "the experience of my DS can only inform you, not replicate your DD's". When I have agreed with the DD parents, that does keep the conversation focused on the difference, not trying to prove that one is easier/better than the others. DS's have their own challenges. My DS has very little time off, because he is needed so much for roles as an older male dancer for a variety of performing opportunities. Teaching him to say "no" and learning the fine art of negotiation has its own burdens.

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silkmaiden   
silkmaiden

I'm really glad I started this thread, your experiences are all very interesting and insightful, especially from those of you with older boys. We're a long way off from even knowing how seriously my boys will take dance (they're only 7 and 4 after all). For my boys they haven't had any flack from their peers for dancing, in fact my 7yo is quite proudly the 'dancing king' in his social circle.

 

Ugh, there's something else that came up very recently that I'm probably going to deal with fallout from. So the situation is - I'm in a senior adv tap number in our upcoming xmas show that rehearsed right after my 7yo's ballet class. So my son is just watching and waiting, sitting in the corner of the studio for me to finish. Well the teacher needed an extra body to mark a place in one of the lines, so she got him to stand in the place. Then, he started mimicking the steps, and the teacher thought it was so cute that she got him to put on his tap shoes and try to dance along.

 

I guess his enthusiasm must have won her over, because she is going to have him be part of the number, and of course I'm very happy for him and he's just THRILLED.

 

Except, now I have to be careful if we have to deal with any fallout. Because, really, it's not that my son was an exceptional tapping talent, it really was a matter of right place right time. OTOH, that probably won't mean much to the parents of the other kids in his tap class, when there already is a bit of flack based on gender alone.

 

But whatever happens, happens I guess, and we'll deal. It's just too bad that there are definitely some parents that will, inevitably, make a big deal out of stuff like this. I can't say that I would ever care unless there was blatent favouritism or sabotage going on, and the staff at our dance school does very well at making things as fair as they can.

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Jo Ann   
Jo Ann

As the mom of 2 dancing daughters and 1 dancing son, with wide variations of ability and desire to dance pro among the 3 kids that varied from year to year between them, on the whole, I have to say that I have no recollection of comments made about my son or boys in general having an easier time of things just because of being male. My kids danced (past tense because all 3 are college age or older now) at a medium size studio but while my son was there, he was just one of 4 or 5 boys total. If the boy was not top notch, he did not get any solo roles. My son did not get solo roles until he was well into his teens; he had to wait his turn until the "best" boy moved on to a prestigious ballet school on scholarship. That being said, all boys do stand out in the crowd simply because they don't look or move the same as the girls, and being so rare, that's just how it is. Every single boy dancer that I know (mine included) has endured teasing, ridicule and torment, mostly from academic school mates, but sometimes from other dancers (girls). My daughter did a paper in college about the male stereotypical dancer, and in her interviews with many young male dancers, this sad truth came to light, and after reading that paper, I have come to the conclusion that any "edge" that a boy dancer may gain because of being male hardly makes up for the misery that they suffer, mostly quietly and alone, in their young lives as they pursue their dance education.

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Thyme   
Thyme

well said Jo Ann. I completely agree with you on this. Any young man who 'makes it' will have sacrificed a lot in terms of social approval outside of the studio. IF they are fortunate they find a social world within dance at a young age but I can imagine that many feel the loss. My 14yo DS hasn't been teased much (a little bit from time to time but nothing hurtful) but I can see that because his interest is so 'off the beam' from most young men, he is quite socially isolated. Luckily he doesn't seem to mind too much. A certain amount of wilfulness and introversion probably helps! :)

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Alan   
Alan

Boys do have some advantages in the ballet world but my DS has never danced a lead in any production so far, those roles have gone to older boys, sometimes hired from outside the studio. Some big SIs have not accepted him, but he has be accepted and scholarship at a lot of great programs. My wife's response to negative comments from parents of girls is that, if they would like to have boys for their girls to partner with, they need to encourage the boys as much as they can.

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silkmaiden   
silkmaiden

I think in my son's case it probably helps him socially that he finds tap more awesome and fun than ballet. No surprise there! But definitely I can see how tap would be 'cool' for a boy to do, and serious ballet much less so.

 

We'll see how things progress in the coming years socially, but for sure ballet is more difficult for boys socially than tap, jazz, or even ballroom. I'd love if any of my boys grew to love ballet as I do, but if it's not meant to be that's okay too. I still insist they take ballet as a technique foundation for the rest of their dancing though, I feel that's pretty important.

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Jo Ann   
Jo Ann

Thyme, "a certain amount of wilfulness and introversion" describes my son exactly! He has always been comfortable with himself, being by himself, but at the same time has a streak of stubborness that drives me insane at times. Uh oh, he reminds me of myself!

 

Alan, that's a very good point about encouraging boy dancers to stick with it so that the girls have partners. It is my son's partnering skills that have garnished him more attention and praise than any other aspect of his dancing. And this year, he (as a college freshman) is being paid a good amount to guest in a youth ballet company Nutcracker; so of course, he thinks he's pretty darn cool at the moment. The "little" brother likes to remind his sister that he's being paid more than she is as a first-year apprentice in a "real" ballet company!

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