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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Teasing


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My son is in 5th grade and also wants to be a professional ballet dancer someday.

 

For my son, the teasing gradually went away as he won his peers' respect.

 

Some things that have helped:

 

Being strong-- He is a very driven kid and perhaps because he's afraid of teasing he really pushes himself to be strong. When someone teases him he often challenges them to arm wrestling or a chin-up or sit-up contest and usually wins (if he doesn't win he at least gives them a good challenge).

 

Earning Money-- A lot of his peers were *really* impressed the first time he showed them a $100 check for his role in a professional performance. THe parent of one boy who often teased my son (good natured teasing, as they are friends) came to me afterwards and told me *her* son asked if he could do ballet so he could get money.

 

Appealing to Star Wars-- When my son was a bit younger he used to tell people that it was part of his jedi knight training. I'm having trouble inserting a link for some reason but here's the address of an article supporting that idea:

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?.../07/DD97629.DTL

 

Engaging in traditional male activities: My son dances about 10 hours a week, but he also makes time to play video games with his friends and also does a lot of skateboarding. He's actually a good skater, and when people complement him on it he is always quick to point out that his ballet training helps him be a good skater.

 

Having him spend time with older male dancers-- We're lucky to live in a big city, so he's had many opportunities to hang out with older teen male dancers who have been very friendly and supportive. He thinks they're about the coolest people he's ever met and wants to be just like them. That doesn't neccessarily help with the teasing, but it does help his self-confidence.

 

My son found that once he gained the respect of the majority of his peers then they came to his defence if anyone started picking on him.

 

Anyway, that's how my 10 year old son earned his peer's respect. But, what you're talking about may be more a matter of bullying. If it's just one boy teasing your son a lot, then you're looking at a bullying situation, and that scenario could happen regardless of what activity your son does. The bully is using ballet, but he would just as easily use something else if your son didn't do ballet. If you feel there is bullying going on then you really should consider talking to your son's school for help.

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  • 4 weeks later...
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MySonLovesBallet

My son was being teased about dancing, but he wanted a dance hoodie anyway.

 

I looked high and low for one that would not lead to more teasing.

 

I also did not want him to think he needed to hide the fact that he loves ballet.

 

I bought him this hoodie sweatshirt and he loves it. The other kids think it is cool.

 

http://clothing.cafepress.com/item/flight-...shirt/337380956

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Thanks for posting that, MSLB. I hope your son is able to come up with coping mechanisms to deal with other's small-mindedness. Unfortunately, it is a fact of life for too many.....

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My DS, (15) has come up with a great response to guys that tease him. He says "I spend 8 hours a week with 20 cute girls in leotards while you sit home playing Playstation. Who's better off?"

 

Works pretty well - probably because of the age. Most likely wouldn't work for younger boys if they think girls have cooties!

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My son would say things like that too, but what I wish for is a world where stigmas and stereotypes were to disappear because of an educated populace............

 

I guess I'd better not hold my breath. :(

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I TOTALLY agree. That would be wonderful. It would make my DS's life so much easier. He shouldn't have to defend what he loves. High school football players don't have to do that. But I have to say I'm proud of how he has handled it. He totally understands who he is, and has never even thought of giving up his passion because of peer pressure.

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I understand the impulse behind making that video and the common "I spend time with girls" defense of ballet; however, I think this defense is outdated--and to be totally honest, I find this video in poor taste. It merely stoops to the level of the attackers using the tactics (and logic and reasoning) of a five year old: "Ballet isn't gay, football and wrestling are!" Surely we're beyond that sort of thing in this day and age. I know we have to start somewhere, and middle school bullies are particularly obtuse, but defending ballet by proclaiming one's heterosexuality with a lot of macho posturing and chest-beating is not, IMO, the way to go. That sort of thing might have been excusable in the 1950's, but we have, I hope, come a long way since then.

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You make some good points, Hans, and I, too, keep hoping that we're beyond this sort of thing these days.

 

Another way to look at what the guy was showing in the video was that everything we do can be interpreted in different ways - i.e., as much as ballet can be seen as masculine or feminine, so can other activities, such as sports. What about cooking? It used to be that cooking was something only women did - now if I happen to turn on the food channel on TV, more times than not it's a man hosting a cooking show.

 

I think it can help to change the mind of a teen's view of ballet to show these kinds of images in a humorous way. A typical teen boy might stay away from ballet because he might be afraid that he would have to "act like a girl" (whatever that might mean to him). But by showing the images of both ballet and sports, it demonstrates that there is plenty of what a boy with that fear would see as masculine in ballet, and much of what might initially appear as masculine to a boy in sports can actually appear more feminine. I do think that the point the dancer in the video was trying to make could have been made with images that were a little less overtly sexual in nature than a few of them were.

 

I agree 100% that posturing and chest-beating isn't a good thing, but if there is a way to show young people that ballet does take the same physical strength, determination, and other qualities that kids often only equate with masculine sports (especially if it can be done with humor), then I'm in favor of it.

 

(Actually, in a broader social sense, I think one of the best things my son is getting out of ballet is learning to be comfortable around both boys and girls, on his soccer team and in the ballet studio, respectively. Imagine if all kids could have this experience!)

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The sad reality is that, in the middle school years in particular, it doesn't matter what you do - you are a topic for teasing. The one thing I regret, in retrospect, was allowing DS to keep his dancing a secret. Going forward with a sense of self confidence and feeling that you don't need to defend your choices for extracurricular activities is probably the best approach. Though it can be difficult, I find it's possible. Sadly, I have a younger son that is currently having to defend to his 10 year old classmates that he likes to read. As I watch him navigate the criticism and yes, even bullies, I regret that my DS did not take that course of action as well. His early teen years would've been a lot more memorable.

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I, too. worried about my ds when he entered middle school.

 

Up to that point he had been in a small elementary school with a wonderful principal who stressed the value of each person and respect for all. He made it a safe place for kids from diverse ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. There was only one, brief incident of teasing and then it was dealt with in a way that all involved realized that when one is hurt, all are urt and less than the noble ideals the school upheld.

 

The middle school drew several elementary schools together. I worried that the values learned in the elementary school might crumble under new peer pressure. Indeed, in the early weeks of school some kids came up to my son and derisively ask "So, you take ballet?" others did not know whether to defend or shy away. My ds, stood his ground and affirmed it.

 

Soon after this encounter, the boys had gym class. The sport taught was wrestling! I picked my son up from school and he said, "Wow!! I had a GREAT day in school. We are learning wrestling. The guys circled the mat and one at a time they came and I took them down. Even the football players. Soon they were all chanting my name!"

 

I thank God that this was his early introduction to middle school. That class gave him "cred" (credibility). At the end of the year the 6th graders have an police officer come in for several weeks for the DARE program (anti-drug). On the last class the officer got the kids all excited as he challenged them, "What do you do to stay positive and away from drugs?" One by one the kids gave their answers: "I play football", "I read", "I have good friends", etc. My son, "I do ballet". The officer stopped and looked at my son. "Oh not you don't". My son, in surprise said, "Yes, I do". The officer again said, "No you don't". At this the REST of the class shouted out, "Oh yes, he does!"

 

(sweet revenge: this officer's daughter now takes ballet in the same school as ds - his wife loves this!!!)

 

Fast forward 2 years to 8th grade: DS was struggling with whether he wanted to continue ballet - there was so much he wanted to do in high school. He was discussing this at one of the lunch tables he frequented, mostly comprised of Bosnian immigrants. One boy told DS, "No, you can't quit, you are the ballet boy".

 

We have been blest, as I hear and read stories.

 

Not very many of DS's peers have seen him dance, but they have been supportive. The teachers in the school district now have their classes (elementary age) attend the school show of our Fall, Spring or Nutcracker at the theater. If there is a Q&A afterward, they try to ask DS a question, or invite him over to meet the students.

 

The High School has many more ballet students as older ones move to our area for the ballet school, so there is more camaraderie at that level, and by that point, the other students are use to ballet dancers.

 

I can only hope that those who are struggling with the painful effects of teaasing, may find supportive communities.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Just curious as to opinions. My son (4th grade) is very serious about his ballet training; thinks he wants to be a dancer when older... In the last 6 months he's performed with a few professional companies.

 

Recently he told me he is being teased by a classmate (male) -- calling him "ballerina boy." He tells me he is ignoring this kid's chiding but obviously it bothers him.

 

I know (and he does) that some kids will be supportive and others won't - both boys and girls.

 

Any words of wisdom to pass along to help him deal?

 

Gosh I know how he must feel I started Ballet young and got teased by another boy in my school (he was in the year below) and he found out I did Ballet as he heard his sister who was in my class at school and in my ballet class talking about me doing ballet and every time he saw me at school he'd call me Christina, other times The big puffter in the year above and most of all his favourite was Sissy. You cold imagine the emabrrasment I had when and I hated taking things round the school for my teacher in fear of seeing him. I often wondered what the name he'd call me this time. I like your son ignored it but it did bother me especially when I was with me school mates.

 

I told my parents about it and they went to the head teacher and complained about this boy and after that he never called me Christina, Puffter or Sissy again. Now that I'm older and still doing ballet the same boy now young man has started the name caling all over again but fortunately for me and unfortunately for him my ballet teacher saw and heard him and she collared this boy/young man.

 

she made him join the next weeks class and join in wearing a ladies pink shiny lycra tank leotard, ladies pink tights and ladies pink satin ballet slippers and boy did we laugh at him but he never teased or name called again.

 

my advice is take note of my story and report this other boy to the school and if that doesn't work report the bullying to this other boys parents and try to arrange something with them like taking this other boy along to ballet class with your son and then let he other boys freinds find out and tease him to see how this other boy likes it

 

hope this helps

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Hi Chris, and welcome!!

 

I'm sorry to hear about your experiences with teasing. :thumbsup: It is always the small-minded who must say nasty things to make themselves feel like a better person.

 

I must say I completely disagree with the method used to humiliate him; to me, that is lowering oneself to his level. Male ballet dancers work too hard to have their accomplishments abased by forcing someone to wear an inappropriate outfit. Even adult female dancers do not dress like that, and I find it sad that the teacher could not come up with better way to deal with this young man than by abusing him back.

 

Far better would have been to educate him; then perhaps, he may have begun to understand the sheer amount of dedication, hard physical labour, and mental toughness that is a ballet dancer.

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Dad of Yoshi De Groof

Hello i'm new here.

From Belgium so sorry for the poor English.

My son 16 last Feb, is not get teasing on school ( he goes to the Antwerp Royal Ballet School ) but in the naborhood.

He just ignored them , it took a while but now he has friends of all kind of education, te teasers they stay with the same old friends ( only a few ).

That is the best thing a parent can see.

My son is getting up real great, he does the thing he like.

the teasers....................we will see.

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Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, Dad!!

 

I'm glad he's not getting teased by his friends.....I'm also very, very happy that you support him as he follows his dreams.

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