Jump to content
Ballet Talk for Dancers to close ×
Ballet Talk for Dancers

Ridicule of male dancer


Recommended Posts

I did not know where to share this and was hoping I might get some perspective from others who have faced similar situations. My son (16) is in a pre-professional training program and is performing in Le Cid this weekend. He has worked very hard and has been quite happy with his role....until tonight. Apparently at a stage rehearsal this evening, he was repeatedly and very offensively ridiculed by the members of the youth symphony that will accopmany the piece. Of course, many of the comments were of a sexual nature, and they were clearly directed at him and none of the other dancers (all of whom are female in this piece). I have never seen my son as demoralized as he is at present, and I am thinking that this is the beginning of the end of his dance aspirations. Of course he has faced similar experiences, as all of you with boys in ballet certainly know, and I have tried to isolate why this particular experience impacted him so deeply. I think it was the collective sense of ridicule, and the failure of any responsible adults in the area to contain it, coupled with how positively he had felt about this performance before it was met with this response. All I can say is he is feeling differently about his study of dance right now than ever before in the last six years. Can anyone offer any helpful advice to me to help my son through this?

Link to comment
  • Replies 31
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

  • Avalon


  • Mel Johnson


  • dancemomCA


  • annawritedraw


Wow that is really sad. I wonder why someone did not step in? Maybe they were so preoccupied by the tec rehearsal they did not hear it. Is a phone call to the director in order. If you dont do this very often, then you will be heard. Maybe it is time to say something. :wub: And from other artists no less! I am surprised. young artists usually respect eachother. :angry:

Link to comment

While the behavior of the orchestra members is ethically and morally offensive, it is vintage teen.


Single one out, and a lone male in an all-female cast is a natural, find a weak point, or if there isn't one, make one, then harass away at it. Wolfpacks could learn a lot from teenage boys.


Yes, a complaint is in order. Take it from somebody who was a lone male in many productions, and had the first name, "Melvin".

Link to comment

Avalon--I certainly hope you will say something to the director. The director should understand that this type of behavior should not be tolerated any more than a dancer pointing out the male flutist or clarinetist in a derogatory manner. And it would be just as silly. At the very least, he can threaten his students with expulsion. Youth symphonies always have extras in the wings to take over.....


Link to comment

:wub: I too am surprised that youth musicians would be that intolerant of another artist. It is simply not acceptable but as Mel pointed out, typical teen behaviour. As others have told you I would definitely call the director and explain the situation and how demoralizing it is for your son. And I would explain to both directors (dance and music) that this type of behaviour is why so many boys DON'T want to dance in the first place! And I would demand action/education be taken with the musicians. All of this may make your son even more unpopular, but at least the insults will hopefully will end and he can dance in peace.


To be ridiculed by one person is one thing, but the collective ridicule must have been devastating for your son. Tell him, and I know it is so hard to stay strong, to grit his teeth and dance his heart out, especially in a role that he so enjoyed. He must not give up now after all these years of hard work. Give him all of your support and love :angry:


Let us know what transpires Avalon - we wish your son all the best.

Link to comment
Guest sehoy13

Does your son have any male teachers or does he know any other male dancers? If not, I think it would be worth it to find these guys. This can help tremendously. My sons have also gone through humiliations, so I understand. I am pleased to see so many comments here encouraging you to complain. Too often in ballet we have gotten the message to shut up and take it.

Link to comment

Good Morning, and thanks so very much to each of your for your thoughtful and supportive posts. Here is an update:


I emailed the AD last night after posting, and she called me almost immediately (11:30 p.m.!) to express her concern and to gather more information. While she had been present at the rehearsal, she was quite focused on technical apsects (as was suggested by memo) and did not seem to notice the extent of the behavior. To her credit, however, she HAD noticed that DS seemed distressed by the end of rehearsal and had made a very hasty exit. She had shared this observation with another dance teacher and with the choreographer (a male dancer) before she left the theater. I truly did experience the AD last night as concerned and ready to support my son.


I think so many of your helpful posts are right on target: While DS has experienced lesser behavior in school, for example, he never expected this kind of ridicule in a community of fellow young artists. As the AD said last night, "What is so darn masculine about having a cello between your legs?" This was a helpful perspective to me, and I hope eventually to my son, as was mompf3darlings' comment about male woodwind players. DS, by the way, is also an oboist and a pianist. My husband suggested that he be given just four or five minutes on the grand piano at the next rehearsal, and that would certainly change the youth symphony's opinion of him!


Unfortunately, DS was not particularly pleased that I had taken action last night by contacting the AD. I can completely understand his perspective on this; it appears to call even MORE attention to him and to make him think he is perceived as a sissy who cannot handle his own affairs. It was truly an agonizing decision for me as a parent (whether to intervene or not.) He left for school this morning rather furious with me, and I will not see him before tonight's rehearsal. A tough day for both of us, I'll wager.


Thanks once again for all of your interest. It has certainly helped me to not feel so alone.





Link to comment
Guest sehoy13

Avalon, I think his anger is normal. At least, in my household it is. Jokes about sexuality hurt at 16 anyway, despite being a ballet student. Ballet heightens it. And it goes beyond the stereotype. I am tempted at this point to start a list of examples...

You did the right thing by speaking to the AD, and now you know and your son knows who is on his side (this includes you). It is useful for teens to start fighting their own battles, but they also need allies. It's hard to know when to step in and when to let them handle it themselves.


:yes: In short, I think you did the right thing.



Edited to add: Just discussed this issue with my sons. They disagree with me, of course. They say the son should have called the AD. I still admire Avalon for making the call.

Edited by sehoy13
Link to comment

I was saddened to hear of your son's experience. And how hard for you as a parent--to have to intervene, and yet see that this has angered your son. Just a word of comfort to you: he'll be in a better position to cope, going into the situation feeling angry rather than demoralized. All that adrenaline will strengthen his spirit, and can transform into some amazing dancing!

Link to comment



I'm so sorry to hear about this, but as we moms of DS' know, it seems to be a crappy and inevitable "rite of passage" for male dancers. My son just went through this last week at age 11. Some kids in his class found out he dances and started in with the "gay" and "girlie" thing. It really hurt and frustrated him. Of course, these kids are just acting out of ignorance, and I'm sure that none of them has ever been to a professional ballet and seen how amazing and strong those guys are! Maybe their only exposure to ballet has been at their sister's Dolly Dinkle recitals! :yes:


I am also surprised that the young musicians were the offenders. I thought those in the arts were kindred spirits and sort of stuck together. :shrug:


I wish I had advice for you. Teasing hurts, no matter how you put it. Even though these boys KNOW that they will be teased at some point does not make things any better when it actually happens. I think you did the right thing in contacting the AD.


One thing that did help in my son's situation is he actually stood up to the main teaser and looked him in the eye and said: "what exactly is it about dancing that makes me 'girly'? Huh? Tell me!!" I think it surprised the kid and he didn't have a comeback. No one has said anything since.


As a side note, I just found out that the PTO of DS' school is forking over the money to sponsor the entire 5th grade to go see my son in the Nutcracker. I knew nothing about it until a parent stopped me and told me the other day. It is very timely, in light of the current teasing situation, as the kids are going to see act I. There is nothing sissy about swords, evil mice, and battle scenes! :wink:

Link to comment

DancemomCA has a good point; any corrective action must come through the hierarchy of the musicians as well as through the dancers'. I don't know how the youth symphony in your area is organized, but in a traditional setting, the musical director, the orchestra manager AND the concertmaster must be onboard with measures to maintain company discipline. I remember seeing one youth orchestra where a couple members started "acting out" and the concertmaster, who must have been all of fourteen, stood up and leveled her violin bow at the two miscreants, and said, with all authority, "CUT IT OUT! You guys have problems, there's an alley out back. Take it there and get fired when Mr. _______ gets here, or stay here and shut up!"

Link to comment

I agree, it is hard for him to have his mom intervene at 16 but he is still a kid and in this instance I think you did the right thing. They are still kids. I have intervened on my kids behalf in the past year and although if I had asked him first he probably would have said no I did not give him the opportunity and I know I did the right thing. It was a bullying incident and I happened to pick up the other line on the phone because I saw my kid becoming extremely agitated and scared and let the kid doing it "have it". Even though we step back more and more as they grow older, sometime the parents still have to step in, they may look like adults but they are not.

Link to comment

knock, knock, mother of daughter here--I'm not surprised that "fellow artists" at this age could be guilty of such behaviour. I'm sure that some of those boys have carried their violin cases past the football players at school and been subjected to some mild ridicule because of it. So how do they restore their own feelings of masculinity? By pointing the finger at someone else.

Link to comment

Avalon - While they may be reacting to past ridicule, or just trying to posture for their friends, the reality is that what these orchestra members are doing could be interpreted as harassment. In this case it's important to get involved, through the AD, so this type of behavior can be stopped before the guilty parties find themselves in a whole lot more trouble. The director of the program needs to know what has happened because he or she could also potentially have a legal liability for the action of the orchestra members. What we all once have observed, participated in, talked about, etc. in our youth - with not a glance from our elders - is now worthy of much more severe penalties in our community and school systems. Sometimes we have to do what's right, even though it's not popular with our kids. Perhaps you can explain to your DS that your actions could help these young people learn how serious such behavior could be, and that your intervention is helping them grow into responsible, and respectful, young ladies and gentlemen. Hopefully this is a bump that your DS can get over. Happens to my DS more often than I'd like. At this point, while he wants to continue to dance, he doesn't want to perform anymore. It's so difficult to watch our kids having to grow up!

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...