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Ballet Talk for Dancers
silkmaiden

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

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Clara 76

Oh..... my........ goodness. I apologize on behalf of all stupid people everywhere.

 

Perhaps a response like, "You're right about one thing- SIs do kill to have talent in their programs. Maybe that's why there are so few females who do get scholarships??" *with a very innocent, wide-eyed expression on your face. Then walk away.

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Redgemini

I was chatting with some of my DS's pre-pro studio moms while we were waiting for our valet duties.

 

One of the moms complimented me on DS's recent performance role and how much he's progressing. I found out she had a younger DS the same age as my younger DS. I asked if she was going to enroll him in the tiny tot ballet/tap class this summer and she looked at me in horror and said, "no, he's a boy! He'll do soccer!"

 

Sigh.

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ByTheLake

Had a co-worker, who knows I have a teen son who dances, during a discussion about upcoming Nutcracker and who was taking their kids to see it, who has a daughter who is 4 and would love it, says "I don't think we'll go, I don't want to watch a bunch of men prancing around in tights." ?????!!!!!! Hello? Did you forget I was here? And that my very hetero son whom you've met several times is one of those men??

 

Pfft. Can't force someone out of ignorant.

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Moxie

Ok, so have they seen wrestling?! or track, or speed skating, etc, etc, etc. All wearing tights!!!

In fact I googled men's tights looking for ballet and so many other kinds of men's tights came up I had to go and put ballet in the search!

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LBBalletMom

So many good points in these posts! JoAnn's post #11 particularly resonated with me. I have endured comments from moms at the ballet school and SI auditions regarding how easy it is for boys to get good roles and scholarships, and my response is to remind them that the mothers of dancing girls can tell anyone and everyone about their daughters' ballet accomplishments with pride, while my son and I have to be careful about when and how that same information is shared. Most moms of girls don't feel the need to homeschool their dancer through middle school like I did. No matter how much a boy loves ballet for ballet's sake, without some scholarship money or a little extra attention, there wouldn't be much incentive to stay in it considering all the abuse they have to take.

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Mom2kaipar

As another parent of both a DD and DS, it is very hard. My DD is older and has overcome two serious surgeries teo years ago. She has worked her tail off to get back to where she is today. She has been offered scholarships, but nothing like my DS did last year. My DD actually told us point blank she didn't want to know about any scholarships he'd been offered because she knew it was coming.

 

We are also very proud of my son and what he'd been offered last season. But my DS had several very irritating instances last year where he felt like he needed to lie. One very young girl who had never gone through the audition experience until last year, repeatedly asked each time he did an audition what amount of scholarship was offered to him. Not if he was accepted or not. He got to the point that he lied about one, and finally told her it was private and none of her business. Assuming that he was given 100% scholarships was really upsetting to him because it took away the hard work he put into his training the last couple of years. Plus, he was trying to be sensitive to his older sister.

 

So it is very frustrating to have people assume in any fashion. Not just for us, but both my kids.

 

But sadly, as a parent of two dancers, the reality is that we couldn't afford to spend full tuition for two dancers without some kind of scholarships.

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Edel

"No matter how much a boy loves ballet for ballet's sake, without some scholarship money or a little extra attention, there wouldn't be much incentive to stay in it considering all the abuse they have to take."

YES!!!

"But sadly, as a parent of two dancers, the reality is that we couldn't afford to spend full tuition for two dancers without some kind of scholarships. "

YES!!!!

Our studio offers discounted prices for the boys over the age of seven. I take advantage of it with my 9 yr old and he takes 2 technique, 1 tap class, and 1 boys only ballet class every week. I still pay full price for my six year old to dance, and my 8 yr old daughter.

My 9 year old has been dancing since he was seven. He's high functioning on the ASD spectrum, and he's overweight. I don't push him regarding dieting issues since he'll be going through puberty soon, and his doctor has said he shouldn't lose weight but continue to grow taller, since they don't like to see kids "lose" weight unless they're severely obese and developing health problems.

 

Despite being "husky", he's loved dance since the first class he stepped into 2.5 years ago. He looks like a football player, but he finds most of his joy in life in a dance studio! He's incredibly flexible, and he works hard in class. We're very blessed with excellent and supportive teachers at our dance studio, who have taken the time and patience to work with him, and develop methods of helping him cope in class when he has behavioral issues. Dancing has improved his confidence, widened his social sphere, and given him a place where he belongs and he thrives as a person.

HOWEVER, he has never been socially competent at school, and he doesn't have any common sense to protect himself. He went to his rural school and told everyone that he dances ballet, when he was seven years old. It was an eight year old girl who started to persistently call him "gay" daily on the bus. She encouraged some other older kids to harass him this way, and despite the school's intervention, it persisted for two years until we moved.

My son is extremely analytical, and he responded to her the first time by saying "Gay is when two boys date or kiss or two girls date or kiss. I'm seven. I'm not straight or gay because I don't date or kiss anyone. Because I'm seven." The girl told him that he "didn't know what gay was" and just because he danced, he "just was gay". And he got off the bus extremely frustrated that she didn't accept his proper definition of "gay".

The new school where we've moved doesn't have the same level of harassment for him (it's a larger, more diverse, urban school). At this new school my younger, neurotypical, slim, athletic, six year old has become his class "star" in kindergarten since he got the role of the Black Sheep in our studio's Nutcracker. He brought in advertisements to his class, invited everyone (his teacher attended!). Dance seems to come so easy to my six year old, and he loves it. He doesn't mind being one of the fewer boys in his dance class, and he's also frequently invited his male academic classmates to come visit dance classes with him. I feel sorry for my older son because nothing is as easy for him as it is for my younger son. And I don't know if the bullying or harassment will happen for my younger, socially savvy, confident younger son. (I hope it doesn't! )

Occasionally I get "looks" from other parents. Or assumptions, that I only get away with putting the boys in dance because I'm a single mom. I plan on letting them try basketball when they get older, I don't think I'll get into soccer or football much. As a single parent, I appreciate the male teachers at our studio THAT much more, because it allows my boys to HAVE that older male input in their lives since there are so few men in our lower levels of academia in this country.

I also love it that both of my boys are very comfortable interacting with both genders their age, something you don't get when you go to a sport that separates the genders within the leagues.


Edited by Edel

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Thyme

Hi Edel. Well you are certainly experiencing the full range of what it means to have a DS! I think your boys are very lucky to have you in their corner.

 

Yes my DS who is now 16 (and completely disinterested in what others think of his ballet habit!!) has brushed up against a lot of what you describe. I think all our young men tread along a sometimes difficult and challenging path to the studio. Hopefully what happens in the studio sustains them is all I can say.

 

My only piece of advice for you is to make sure the studio(s) does sustain your boys. They need good male role models, lots of fun and friendships with people who share their passion. All the guff they will encounter in the big world has to be worthwhile! Don't compromise on the quality of the people at the studio. That's all I have for you other than this :flowers:

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mln

Hi, Edel,

 

Hang in there. You're doing a great job. I hope your older son will soon see the benefits of ballet, even in school. Here's a funny boast: my son won the freshman class "best gym student" award last year, because, after 9 years of ballet, he could master almost any sport. And the gym teachers knew he was a ballet dancer! So, remind your sons that ballet dancers are athletes, too, and they deserve respect for their athleticism as well as for their art.

 

As for the studio politics, I have never quite gotten comfortable with the parents of girls, except for a few parents whose girls have gone on to professional careers. What this says to me is that it is the competition that girls face that makes the boys (and parents of boys) such outsiders. It's not fair that boys face bullying outside of the studio and then sometimes have to face resentment inside the studio, too. But try to tune out as much of the negativity as you can and focus on the benefits of ballet for both of the boys.

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Fraildove

You know, reading all these posts leaves me both a bit overwhelmed and incredibly greatfull all at the the same time! My son is 8, has quite literally grown up inside the theatre and studio since both myself and my husband were professional dancers. We now own and direct a small, pre-pro program. It was never our intent to let him set foot in an actual class, playing around while we are busy for a few minutes, sure, but not formal training. I think for children of dancers, often you have either a child that totally hates ballet and wants to identify with something else, or a child who falls in love with the art. My son, so far, has fallen squarely in the 2nd group. I guess I haven't really heard comments yet from parents, at least none I haven't made myself. Yes there needs to be incentive for young male dancers to want to peruse this as a profession, probably more so in the US than any other country due to stereotype. And yes the competition pool is smaller than that of their female counterpart. That isn't marginalizing the work and talent they have, (especially now. There must have been something in the water to produce the number of incredibly talented young men I've seen in the past 5 years!) but just a simple fact. Maybe because I've been involved in ballet since I was 9 years old, maybe it adds some perspective since i WAS one of the girls riding back from auditions, praying I would just receive some interest, while the male dancer I grew up with had generous scholarships given at just about every audition. Frustrating, sure it was at the time. But I also knew he had worked just as hard as I did and I was incredibly proud and happy for him.

 

We have so many of my son's friends in and out of the studio since their sisters take class. We've been lucky so far as they think what my son does is really cool. I think it also helps that my husband is there to show that not every male dancer is gay, that in many cultures it is the norm for male dancers to have both a wife and children, and I think that helps break down stereotypes for all involved, both straight and gay. It also helps when the boys are there and my husband takes them all to the small studio and tries to teach them cool ballet tricks, or runs around playing nurff gun war in between rehearsals! And we have had several of those same boys, who at first were so reluctant, to actually sign up for classes and volunteer as party boys for Nutcracker! I know how lucky we are with the circumstances we find ourselves, and it breaks my heart when I hear about the teasing and bullying that can take place for our young sons. Little by little, I hope that will change. I hope that by seeing a man with a family teach ballet, it will let these young men evaluate what they think they know, and let them be aware so that even if one of their dancer or non-dancer friends are gay, they can be accepting of that and not make life so hard for that person. I also hope that their female counterparts can understand why their comments could sometimes feel patronizing to a boy who has to put up with all the flack and work incredibly hard too!

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LJens

I wish the comments were only that nice. There is a real issue with the girls being rude to the boys. The girls act like they are these great prima donnas and everything is for them and the boys just need to move out of their way. The boys are far better behaved than the girls. There are only 4 or 5 boys in the entire studio. Two are younger (my son is in 6th grade) and two are in high school. I think there might be one other boy, but, maybe not since I cannot remember who he is right now. The moms just sit there and let them make the rude remarks and seem as if they agree with the remarks. It bothers me.

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dinkalina

Edel,

I would love to tell you that it won't happen to your younger son, but my DS' experience says otherwise. DS has been dancing since the age of 4. Elementary school, his classmates were extremely accepting and supportive of his dancing. He was naturally good at recess/PE games and everyone wanted him on their team. He was outgoing and had a lot of little buddies. Middle school was the game changer. DS learned very quickly he needed to keep his dancing a secret. He changed from being social to having to be extremely guarded and the target of some very heartbreaking harassment because of his dancing. He dealt with severe depression through the rest of his school years and continued to withdraw socially at school to the point I had to home school him his final year of school for fear of losing him. Girls between the ages of 10-12 were very unsupportive of him being in class because he was extremely focused and wanted to be there more than they did. Ages 14+ girls were always supportive because he turned out to be an excellent partner. Dance molds you into what it needs you to be. Physically, mentally you are different than your same aged peers and for boys it paints a target on their back. As a mother of girl dancers, they also deal with crap but nothing to the level the boys do for trying to do what they love. No scholarship in the world is going to make up for all of the mental and physical harassment some of these boys have had to put up with to do what they love. Now DS is out of school and off dancing full time, he is in such a better place mentally. He has friends who he finally relates to and they are all very supportive of each other. Boys really don't have it easy, they pay for every opportunity and scholarship they get. You just can't see the scars they got in the process.

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Lawsonia

"You don't have to worry about those neat buns", is the most common opening phrase in the waiting room. "No, and no pointe shoes either", I reply.

When my ds started in a new ballet school in the age of 8, they were little girls watching in keyhole and giggling. "There is a boy too!" "He has black pants!" "Hey, let me watch too, it's my turn now!"

My son is now 11,5yo. When their class participated in a dance competition, the judges wanted to know my sons name and asked him directly "It must be nice for you to be surrounded by all those girls?". What could he say in front of the whole audience? "A- ha" was his answer. We are Finnish, I believe in English that phrase means the same "yeah, maybe, I have never thought of that, I'm eleven you know..."

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BoyDanceMom111

We dealt with this at our first studio, back when DS was only 5 years old.  Traditionally the preschool class did tap at winter recital, and ballet at spring recital.  Well the year DS joined, it was him and 26 girls between the two classes.  For whatever reason, they did tap at both.  The dance moms were OUTRAGED and I kept hearing muttering it was because DS was in the class.  Um...if you genuinely think your child's ballet and tap instructor is so dense that she cannot choreograph a 2 minute ballet number with a boy in it do you really want to be going to this school?  And even if so - how on earth is that DS's fault?!  The school maintained they made this choice because the class in general was more interested in tap than ballet.  I'm not sure the truth of it, but we moved after that season and did not return so I guess I'll never know what it was.  So. Much. Drama.  And for 5 and 6 year olds!

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