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Knock Knock, ballet mentor for young dancer


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I'm not a parent but I've been asked to sort of mentor a young dancer.


We've been the only guys in our respective classes, and the two of us account for 100% of the male dancers at our studio. This kid is in his early teens and have been dancing for about five years. His technique is probably where it should be but he is very shy and dances "small" according to our teacher. Recently, he can only make it to the evening Teen/Adult classes which is generally quite challenging. This has been particularly trying on his confidence.


Originaly, my job was to coach him on partnering for the spring recital but our teacher thinks what he really needs is a male role model or just a friend. This is partially attributed to the fact that his father is battling an illness.


I was curious if anyone had similar experience. I would appreciate the insight, advice, etc. Thanks.

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It's not an unfamiliar position for a more mature dancer to be placed in this position, whether it's his teacher's idea or not. Sometimes, the kid just fastens onto you because you're the nearest older male who knows what is going on in his chosen activity. You have to keep your eyes open and your ears working to make sure that you're really observing the situation correctly. You also have to keep your mind open, not vacant - and ready for the damnedest questions coming at the most inopportune times. "Mentor" was a character in Homer's The Odyssey who was to serve as teacher and father-substitute to Telemachus for his absent father, Odysseus. In a lot of ways, that's what you're being asked to take on. It's a big responsibility, but it can be very rewarding, I hope you do take the challenge on.

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Thanks Mel!


First of all, how do you know ALL this stuff?


I definitely want to encourage and help him but at the same time I don't want to make him a hardship case. I think he's generally a happy kid. I guess the question is will he be assertive enough to ask for help, if not, how hard should I push. I don't think he knows that he's doing anything wrong. Our teacher would like him to have the confidence and bravado by the end of June for his and his partner's safety. I know this is very subjective question.


He has actually been in several productions that I've been in but he's had to do core work with the younger girls. Now, due to a sudden growth spurt (he's about 6' tall now) he stands out too much and will have to do other roles.

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