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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Intensives for 12-14 yr-old boys


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I need help determining what to do about intensives for my 13 1/2 year-old son. He has auditioned for three of them on a recent weekend, and will audition for another at the end of February. Six or seven other intensives are also upcoming in the next month, but they are all 3 1/2 hours of potentially very snowy roads and a pass away. I hate to do the drive if it's unnecessary, but his relative age/build/level makes me question my decision.


Right now, my son is just over 5 ft. 2 in. and just beginning puberty. Despite males in my and my husband’s family all being 6 ft. and up, I don’t expect my son to be very tall because he has always been in the 10th percentile in height. On the other hand, both sides of the family are really slow maturing/growing. This actually compounds the current problem, especially when you consider that the girls in his level are generally 13-15, have been on pointe at least a couple years, and are generally taller and growing rapidly.


Are there any intensives with a lot of young boys, where he won't be sitting while older/bigger boys partner? Are there intensives where the training for young boys is more age-appropriate? How can we find out what these are?


Does anyone know what intensives we should shy away from at this time? I get the impression that a lot of intensives have few, if any, boys. Or if there are boys, they are generally 15 and up.


Should we, or can we, ask that he only partner promenades and similar non-lifting movements so the risk of injury is lessened? I realize those movements also take strength and can cause injury, particularly with young girls just learning how to stay on their leg, but they're not the same as huge lifts.


It is my impression that there is a greater probability of classes being rescheduled or cancelled entirely when there are few boys. Every program has good intentions, I'm sure, but I know they all have to be pragmatic. My son would much, much rather take class, than sit, as he has told me repeatedly.


So, how do we find out where to go and what is best to do, short of writing every program out there?


All I know right now is it sure would be easier if my son weren't so determined about dancing and just wanted to stay home and take a couple months off. I hope someone can help me. I just discovered this site after hearing about it from the Walnut Hill assistant auditioner (who thought it was great, by the way, and encouraged parents to go look at it! Nice for you all!)

Edited by werlkj
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Hello werlkj, and welcome to Ballet Alert! Online, and especially to the Parents of Boys forum!


I wish I could tell you exactly which SI programs might be best for your son, but I will have to rely on others for that. I know that we would not expect someone that size and at that point of physical development to do lifts! :wink: Beginning to learn partnering is fine, as long as it is just how to find the girls center, keep her on balance, promenade, and maybe attempt a pirouette or two. But lifts, NO WAY!


Mr. Johnson will be here soon, and I'm sure he will have some answers for you, both here and on the other topic about double tours!

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"As some day it may happen that a victim must be found,

I've got a little lift, I've got a little lift,

For society offenders who might well be underground

And who never would be missed, they never would be missed...."


-With MANY apologies to Sir W.S. Gilbert.


There are partnering classes which are for beginners and then there are those for the more advanced males. At Joffrey, we always had a differentiation when there were younger boys, but the senior boys always used to come into the beginning class just to have more boys! But the juniors were never allowed to take the advanced partnering; it was bad enough for ME to have to learn Hans van Manen's "Solo for Voice" in that class. I suspect that the situation may be similar in Joffrey satellites.


You can do some simple pretty-much-straight-up-and-down lifts in beginning pas de deux, but they're ones where the girls are holding onto the boys' wrists for additional support. But most of it is just promenades and putting the girl off-balance, then putting her back on, and pirouettes and so forth. We don't want shoulder separations from pas de deux!

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My son went to PNB when he was 13 for their SI. He did not have partnering that year, so lifts were not a problem. At 15 he began partnering classes during the summer, but he also had the physical size to make it work. I've heard that Chataqua has decent classes for younger guys, but I don't know this from first hand experience. Good Luck

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Both of my sons went to Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp when they were 13 and really enjoyed it. In fact my younger son went back last year (at 14) and is travelling with them to Europe this year when he will be 15. The director is male and although there are not a large number of boys they pay attention to male repetoire as well as offering appropriate strength training and some partnering (no lifts). Many of the dancer's who attend this program are not at the level you would see at one of the "name" SIs but we have found the teaching to be first rate. Every summer they also bring in some excellent guest teachers - John Gardiner and Charles Askegard for example, who because the group is small, really spend time with the students.


When my older son was 15 he attended SAB which I also felt was a good program for a younger student. Although it can be precieved as competetive my son found a group of like-minded friends there who he has seen in other summer programs.

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I would also recommend American Academy of Ballet which this year will be held at Suny Purchase.

They have a lot of boys, (30 in 2003) many from Europe, Israel, Japan and England and the male teacher are conservative in their approach and careful with their bodies. The partnering is age appropriate. Brian Loftus and unique methods with boys and vast experience with teaching young men.

I found ABT New York to be very competitive for my young male student. They expected him to act like a 20 year old though he is 12. He is however biting at the bit to go back though I personally have my reservations. The standard is staggeringly high and can be intimidating to young prepubescent boys who have not developed the muscle power yet and whose confidence is shakey at that age.

I would agree that SAB is a good choice for boys the training is separate from the girls for the most part and great care and nurturing is taken with the boys in the program.

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I agree with tsavoie that PNB summer is a good choice for how they train young men. At 13, my son was placed in a level where he was included in partnering but he was never asked to execute things that were beyond his ability.


May I also suggest CPYB during the summer for the younger fellows. Daily men's classes accomodate all levels. Expectations for each age and level in their boys'/ men's classes as well as thier partnering classes have always been realistic. Although it's been years since my son attended (7 years this summer!) I have visited almost annually to watch other dancers from our school train there during the summer.


I say choosing SAB summer for younger fellows depends on your boy. Despite having a safe area of the city to live in and the fact that you determine just what their boundry limits are (Lincoln Center or beyond), they have a lot of down time after those 2 classes and many of the free craft activities are geared for young ladies. At 12 or 13 I am not sure my super active kid would have made wise use of his idle time. I know a 15 year old who went last year and he was bored at times. I chose the above mentioned programs because they filled the day will ballet classes.


t :grinning:

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