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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Little Boys and Ballet


Redstorm

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I was waiting for DD to finish her class yesterday when a mother came in with a baby on her hip and a little boy about 3 or 4 dragging her along. She asked the receptionist if they could just watch the class for a few minutes. The little boy was not content watching through the window, so the mother asked if they could sit in the back of the class where there were some chairs. The receptionist said fine, which surprised me. The gal who works at the studio said that this mother has come in before, at the insistance of her little boy. He has sat for up to a half hour, never moving, just watching the dancers with a smile on his face. He crys when he has to leave. The look on his face when they were dancing was magical. When it was time for them to leave, you could see how devastated he was. He cried and begged his mother to let him stay.

After they were gone, I asked the receptionist why on earth wasn't that little boy in ballet? They have another little boy around 4 in a class that was going on at that same time in another room. She said she has tried to talk to the mother before about classes but the mother refused to allow her son to take classes. I was shocked and felt so sorry for this little boy. It was so obvious how much he loved dance. I almost said something to the mother asking why her little boy wasn't taking classes, but thought better of it. Who knows what her reasons are.

A couple other mothers of little girls made some comments about how little boys are more interested in soccer and baseball than dance anyway. I replied that it was most likely that type of attitude that kept that mother from putting her little boy into ballet. The mother of the little boy in the class, looked up from her book and just nodded and smiled.

I truley hope that one day this little boys desire to dance is recognized by his mother and she allows him to pursue what is obviously a dream of his, even at this young age.

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its the mom

It is sad that people have this opinion. Little girls can play soccer and nobody blinks an eye. My husband recently told me that a friend of his told him (my husband) something very upsetting. A mutual friend of theirs was sharing how he thought it was terrible that we were allowing our son to study ballet - that it was a crime and that we must be pushing him into it. He went on to say that he would never allow his two sons to do something like that - they might become gay, etc., etc. You know the story.

 

What do you say to a person like this? I'd like to invite him to come and see my son dance, to see the joy on his face when he is dancing, to see the muscles bulging in his legs when he leaps into the air, to share in not only the musicality, artistry, but the total athleticism that is ballet. I'd also like to share with him that I could never force this on my son. It would be impossible to force him to go to the studio day in and day out. But I am afraid my breath would be wasted. Hopefully, the world and their opinions will change some day. I just know that I won't allow my kids to have that mindset.

 

I hope you will have the opportunity to share with this mom sometime, Redstorm.

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I wonder if part of it is the word "ballet." Most men wouldn't be "nurses" but many have no problem being "physician's assistants." If there were "movement activities" class for little boys, then they could move to the "classical dance" classes when they got a bit older. Also, there have been times and places where little boys took class in shorts (so the teachers could see the muscles). That gets around the dread tights question. When the boy hits an age where he really really wants to do this, he'll be old enough (and big enough) to say, "I want to be a ballet dancer and I wear tights in some roles."

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Mel Johnson
A mutual friend of theirs was sharing how he thought it was terrible that we were allowing our son to study ballet - that it was a crime and that we must be pushing him into it. He went on to say that he would never allow his two sons to do something like that - they might become gay, etc., etc. You know the story.

 

What do you say to a person like this?

I have something that I always say to someone who voices this opinion, but this is a family discussion board, and it wouldn't be appropriate.

 

Besides, I don't think it's anatomically possible.

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Alexandra: it is funny you say that about changing the names of classes. Further along in our discussion yesterday, the receptionist said they were going to advertise a new class called Athletic Movement. This might get some parents out there who are hesitant to let their little boys "dance", come and join in on some movement that will improve athleticism. :P:jawdrop:

They are going to advertise how this can help with agility, flexibility, strength and overall fitness. I hope it works.

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its the mom, your story makes my blood boil. Not having a son, I say this! :jawdrop:

 

The USA is, in this regard, one of the most backward nations.

 

My daughter's first "creative movement" classes were held in a local ballet studio where they had for the young boys of similar ages in something called "sports movement"...sadly, that is as far as those boys went.

 

I'd love to have more written about current professional American male ballet dancer's histories - I think the program The Wild Men of ABT (I think that is what it was called) was one of the best marketing programs ever...but it was only a drop in the barrel compared to the deluge that's needed.

 

Redstorm, the fact that this mother brings her son in to sit there is telling - perhaps there is hope after all?

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dadof2dancers

When our son was younger he showed great interest in dance, perhaps

to gain a closer relationship with his older sister (also a dancer).

He has had success & recognition for his ability, however, the insults

he receives from his "friends" (& twin brother) combined with the fact that his sister actually resents his being in the same class (he's 13 & she is 15)

has caused us a tremendous amount of grief.

Sadly, he is very combative when it is time to go to dance class & at his present school there isn't a boy's class that is ability/age appropriate. With no (slightly older) mentor(s) we are afraid that he will win the "I can't stand Ballet!" arguement.

Both my wife & I feel that his verbage about wanting to quit Ballet is just peer pressure & the result of having a sister that doesn't want to share the spotlight.

I am sure if he does quit he will regret it.

 

 

Encourage the boys, it ain't always easy & not all of us will win but some will...

And there will be other great male dancers that will thank their parents for

encouraging them to "step out of the box" & not listen to... "friends" & older sisters!!! :jawdrop:

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Guest mic31

There will always be stupid parents, changing class names won't stop them from being close minded and dumb.

Young boys need mentors especially ones who are only a bit older, kind of a trail blazer. Adults can only help so much.

My son is not in ballet, he takes tap, there are 50 boys in his school, you won't find any negative remarks about boys in dance around there made by visiting parents....because they are greatly out numbered ha ha ha

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Guest balletandsynchro

I can only add this comment: there was a boy who attended DDs studio as a ballet student, and coincidentaly happened to be a student at her middle school. This lad made DD PROMISE she wouldn't tell anyone at school that he danced. He now attends a different High School, and is no longer dancing. It's too bad - nice boy and a good dancer.

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I think until there is a hugechange in the discourse of hegemonic masculinities (or femininities for that matter) their is still going to be a general sense in the wider community that ballet is for girls/women and that boys/men who are into ballet (and other dance) are not really fitting into the heternormative discourse. Gender roles are seen to be defined antithetically so what is believed to define females is seen as an inappropriate identity for males. Only a few years ago in Australia there was some derogatory comments made about the female cricketers, hockey players and footballers being lesbians (the opinion of some). The media at that time was supporting (consciously or subconsciously) heternormative gender roles and identities so it does not just occur in the dance context with boys.

Males who do run (dance :thumbsup: ) against the gender discourse really must be praised for their strength of mind in determining their own identity and doing what they must to achieve that.

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DancesInHerSleep

When my girls first started taking dance, my son used to go along because he had a martial arts class in the same building right afterwards. One day while waiting for the teacher to show up, my son was in classroom "goofing off" with the girls. He was leaping across the room etc. The teacher walked in and asked him to stay. He was about 10 at the time. He ended up finishing up the session with them. One day some of the boys in the martial arts class saw him walking out and began to tease him in class. The martial arts instructors (sorry forgot what the "official" title is) lectured the boys about their inappropriate behavior. He went on to tell the entire class that he suggests they ALL take ballet class, and that he himself took classes for years. I loved the fact that this man didn't only scold the kids, but actually admitted he himself used to dance.

 

My son has since stopped martial arts and dance, soccer is his passion.

 

On the flipside, my mother-in-law's fiance won't go to any of my DDs performances UNLESS it's the school show. He went to a production last year that my DD was in, and made no bones about the fact that had he known grown men in tights were going to be in the show, he wouldn't have shown up. Needless to say, he didn't attend her most recent performance, and it's too bad. There was a wonderful review in the paper, and the reviewer said she danced with charm.

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dancemomCA

During middle school my son was harassed every single day by a student in his class with taunts of "gay" "homo", etc. I finally requested a class change in GR 8. The bullying continued until my son grew and finally got physical with this kid, who of course ran home and cried to his parents. Two years later and his mom still doesn't talk to me - my son, the ballet bully!!! How ironic!

 

Funny ending though - my daughter told me last week that this boy told her that he finally realized what an idiot (actually his words are not printable :devil: ) he was and he did apologize to my son when he was home for his spring break. Don't know if it is maturity or exposure to the larger, more complex high school milieau that affected his change of thought. Sadly, too little too late for my son, he stills thinks this guy is a jerk. :thumbsup:

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Dolphingirl

Knock Knock-Not a parent, but I just finished my first year teaching pre-ballet, and I had a young boy in my class. There were 20 girls, ages 5 and 6, and the one boy. I was very excited on the first day in the fall to see him, and he looked very enthusiastic. His parents approached me after the first class and told me that he was very excited to start ballet class, after seeing his friend (a girl, who was also in my class) on stage at the previous year's recital. He was "green with envy" in the words of his mother, so they knew they had to sign him up. He was one of the most well behaved, concentrated children in the class, and he carried his enthusiasm for dance through the entire year. I'm so glad his parents put him in my class, because he was a joy to teach, and I'm glad that his parents recognized his desire to dance. I hope he keeps with it. :thumbsup:

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My older son took a tap class when he was 10 and loved it. It really helped with his soccer skills. He had no problem telling his friends he was taking tap.

My younger son took a ballet class (called ballet but more like creative movement). He was 4 at the time. One of the mom's in the "waiting room" asked one time what my husband does for a living and how he feels about his son taking ballet. I answered that dad was a professional athlete and that he thinks it's great.

That was five years ago and sadly due to pressure from others, dancing son hasn't danced since. He did watch big sisters class recently and decided he wanted to start again in the fall. He is constantly turning in the air and can do multiple turns without his feet touching the ground. Don't even know if that's a ballet step but he sure likes doing it and looks like he knows what he's doing. I hope he starts back, but that's his decision. Mom and dad are fine with whatever he decides. Hope everyone else can handle it!

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My son has feet to die for (my daughter doesn't, and she is SO envious), and once when he was about 12, we suggested that he try ballet. He told us that "boys don't do ballet". My husband's jaw just about hit the floor, as he had danced for several years in college, and our son knew it. Obviously they pick this stuff up, regardless of the family's (or dad's) feelings and opinions.

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