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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Little Boys and Ballet


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Yeah, well, over here one -still- generally gets a living wage - no matter how small the company or how provincial the theatre.


And, one gets a chance to dance.


Now we just have to interest more young men, convince the politicians that the theatres are indeed worth hanging on to...... and we have it made!




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:clover: Just returned from visiting DS (15) at his residential ballet school. Very busy weekend, with the wonderful opportunity to watch him take class. I spend most of my time watching the boys of course :blushing: , even though they are still outnumbered by the girls - ie. Level 3/4 tech class - 7 boys (one missing) and 16 girls. I also observed the recreational classes which were filled with little boys - hopefully some of them continue into their teens.


Like justthedriver stated, at this age, these boys must have such "moxie" and grit to get to this point. And this is where I view all boys in ballet a "success story", overcoming prejudice and harassment to pursue a passion and do it well. The boys in class are focused (well, most), have excellent technqiue and artistry, especially in modern class, where I found that the boys were stronger dancers. The teacher agreed and said that the boys are usually more powerful and more willing to let go of that "ballet posture" - seems to take a bit longer for the girls.


As for the company, three new male soloist dancers - two new principals - one from Cuba, another from Mexico and second soloist from Argentina. Latino effect again!!! It's been ages since the company has had a male principal from Canada or the US. :D

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This is/has been a MAJOR pet peeve with me and others we know. Companies that are supported or receive government funding, should have a respponsibility to HIRE from within our own schools and thus promote this training!!! Seems we send our DK's into these residency programs and then the companies go and hire from outside?? Doesn't make much sense to those of us who have supported them thru our DK's training years! :D

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This isn't much of an issue in the US, where company charters come from the individual and several states, but is much subtler where there is a dual system of chartering, as a "Royal" ballet company and a "National" ballet company. Under a system of Royal patronage, as a manifestation of State, the company is much freer to seek dancers from whatever source derived. Ethically, a "National" company, as a manifestation of Government, is more bound to hire local nationals first, but that ethos is not unbreakable, and it has to be resilient enough to weather demands when the Government changes to fire, say, all the Grits and put in all Tory dancers. :wallbash:

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To be fair, dbleon - the company does hire school graduates - it just can't hire all of them and no graduate is ready for a principal position upon graduating. Plus, this season, the company lost many males and there were no males in the corp ready to assume a principal position. And right now, the two female principals are school graduates. There are also school graduates in the corps and as apprentices. But this is off-topic on this thread.


I am not sending my son to the school with the idea that the company must hire him upon graduation - he is there to receive excellent dance training that he would not be able to receive at home. He knows that as well and feels that he will receive a terrific foundation upon which to further build his dance skills when he graduates, whether it be in Canada or elsewhere.

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The training is why we all send our DK's to these programs. After 10 yrs we are well up-to-date on who has graduated, hired, fired, etc. Most are great friends...My whole reason for posting a reply (as I knew this would strike a nerve) was to show my support for the training of both boys and girls in this country! ( You may not have been on the scene during the funding fiasco cuts to RWBS from Heritage canada by Ms. Shelia Copps...I was the ONLY parent protesting up on Parlilment Hill and threatened with arrest by the RCMP for doing so.) But those of us that spent the years and $$$ do and should expect a fair shot at job openings....male and female!

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I agree that one should expect a "fair shot", but that is completely different from a company having a responsibility to hire school graduates. That is like comparing apples to oranges. And realistically speaking, not all graduates have the talent even at the end to be accepted into a company - that doesn't mean that their training was a waste of time. Ms. Leigh has commented on this several times. If the schools only took in kids who were destined to make companies, there wouldn't be enough students to fill the schools. So, yes, I would hope my DS has a fair shot with ANY company, not just the one attached to the school, but he will also have to take into consideration his suitability for certain companies, his size, his technique, artistry, etc. So much is subjective about the entire process- he may or may not be what the AD is looking for at that time.


And to be honest, frankly, no school is perfect - yes, there are favourites and sometimes/often it is not fair. But after watching performances and class, it is apparent the favourites are cast for a reason and that is that they are usually the best dancers (technically and artistically) in their level. Many parents have made this comment to me time and again. And yes, my DS has already experienced what he feels was "unfair" stage time :offtopic: - it won't be the last I'm sure. But the focus for him is on his training right now and he is learning to take the good with the bad and move on. And yes, this is no consolation to dancers who feel that they have been unfairly treated; however, I don't believe that he will be successful by dwelling on the negatives (this was a major factor in his difficulties last year), and he has come around to looking at what he can "do" at this time rather than what he "can't" do.


As for showing support for dance training, I try to do it here with positive posts - that doesn't mean I am not realistic about the dance world and residential schools in general. I'm not a Pollyanna, far from it, but I feel that far more is gained by emphasizing the positive experiences, even in the midst of negative situations, I try to help my son find something "good" to take away from it.


I know that you have been through it all and you feel that it was not a good experience in the end, and for that I do feel for you and for DD. However, my son is in the midst of training and he is very happy; he loves the school and his teachers. I temper his enthusiasm with realities, but for now, we are having a mostly positive experience and that is what I try to share with others on the board.


Anyway, this is off topic, so will not bring this up again on this thread. :wub:

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As I see it, the problem here in Canada is that there are so few companies where a well trained dancer can dance. As far as I recall, the Royal Winnipeg does not hire dancers trained at the National. The National does not take dancers trained in Winnipeg. It is aslo hard to observe the National then hire dancers and take on apprentices apparently trained in Asia. It is difficult to be hired in the US since the new regulations came in after 9/11.

Dancemom ca, I am glad your son is enjoying the dance journey and focusing on his training, but as we now come towards the end of our school journey, I can see the point that dbleon is making. It is sad that Canada does not have many more classical dance companies, like the US does.

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The two companies do hire dancers trained at each other's schools. In fact, the current AD of the RWB school is a graduate of NBS and is listed as a newsworthy alumni in their latest newletter (NBS). The staff of the two schools pay visits to each other when they are in town. But yes, they do bring in dancers from all over and it is the same for US companies. And yes, we are limited in our number of ballet companies which places dancers at a disadvantage upon graduation. Then again, the number of graduates in Canada is small compared to the US, so I'm sure that the odds work out about the same for both countries. Not good for either!

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What I say to people with ignorant remarks is, "I guess there is little about the world beyond the little world you live in to make such an uneducated remark. Thanks goodness my children have open minded and intelligent parents." Then I walk away and don't wait for an answer. Some people are just ignorant and happy being that way. :thumbsup:

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Victoria Leigh

abdwybabe, I'm a bit confused. This thread is soooo long, and I'm not sure what you are referring to with the above post. Was it the original post, when someone said something about little boys and soccer or something like that?

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Guest arabento

My DS is only 11, but since this topic concerns boys I hope it is OK if I reply. He has been dancing for 3 years, started out in an Athletes in Motion class, moved up to Boys Dance and now is in Boys Ballet. He has 10 boys in his class, ages 9-14. There are several more in the younger classes, so I think the school has about 20 boys this year. There are 4 (ages 10-12) boys in his class that have been together the whole 3 years. These boys are a great support system for each other and they all encourage each other. His class meets twice a week for 90 minutes each time and they are worked very hard. All of the boys classes have a male instructor, so there is a good role model for them. The instructors are also very patiently teaching the boys dedication to the art and discipline. The boys are expected to be on time, in the appropriate uniform, prepared for class and ready to learn. I don't know whose idea it was to have a boys only program, but it has been good for my son. When he first started, he was careful to emphasize that it was for boys only. Now I don't think that it would bother him if he were the only boy in class, because he LOVES to dance with the girls. As a parent I can see only positives with having my son dance.

1. He is learning discipline and time management skills.

2. He is learning how to move, something that will help him no matter what he decides to do in life.

3. He is learning that you have to do a lot of plies, tendus, etc. before you can even think of doing the jumps and other things, I guess what I'm trying to say here is that you have to learn to walk before you can run and in ballet t is a long process of learning to walk.

4. He is learning to do things right. That there is no easy way to do ballet, that he should strive to do each step right everytime.

5. He is learning that the arts are beautiful, and that there is nothing unmanly about going to the ballet, opera or symphony.

6. He is learning that it takes and incredible amount of work and preparation before the first curtain ever rises on a stage production.

All of these are things that will be beneficial to him no matter what he decides to do. Right now he wants to be a dancer. I hope that if that is what he continues to want to do then that someday he will reach his dream. As his parent I and my husband will continue to encourage and support him on this long journey through the dance world for as far as he wants to take it. Hopefully in 8 years he will be one of the members of the first boys class to graduate from his school!!

One another note, from what I have observed in the studio and from talking with and listening to other parents, it seems as if one of the main factors in a boy continuing in ballet is the support of his father. In all of the families that I know of where the father supports the boy in ballet, the boys are continuing. Where the father didn't support it then they have dropped out. Maybe by our boys taking dance they will be more encouraging of their boys when they grow up and become parents. I also have to say that I have the greatest admiration and respect for their instructors. It cannot be easy to take a group of young, boisterous (and these boys are all boy) boys and teach them the art of ballet. The boys can all be talking, etc. out in the waiting area and as soon as the instructor opens the door leading to the studio they are quiet, lined up and walking respectfully to the studio. All in all our family is very happy with my DS chosen extra-curricular activity and with everything that he has learned from it. It will be interesting to see where his journey through adolescence takes us.

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