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Ballet Talk for Dancers

do male dancers need to dance at studio with many male dancers?


conazza

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My son would like to attend a residency program in the fall. He is very talented and at his SI program they are willing to give him full tuition including education, ballet, room and board.

 

My question is, my son has a good ballet school here locally. He has learned and achieved enough to have received such an offer, but his local school has no boys. At the SI there are many and he has developed many friendships there.

 

Is it possible for him to learn enough here without other boys around.

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I'm sure there are a lot of opinions on this. From our experience, it IS possible to be the only boy and go on to become a professional. My DS' old studio had one such experience. This boy was the only boy the entire time there. (My son actually arrived the next year.) He went on to dance as an apprentice in a US company for two years and is now in a contemporary company that is fairly well known. When our DS was there, he had one other male, sometimes two (one student kind of came and went.) He did not have dedicated men's classes - only when he went to SIs. We felt the training was sufficient to get him to a professional level, especially after they hired a male instructor. Our problem was a conflict with public school - they would not let him out early until his junior year. And the class he needed to be in, as a freshman, started before his public school let out. (The other students attended a different school system - the one where the studio was located. We live in a neighboring county which has late hours for high school. All the other males were able to arrange early release to get the highest level training when they needed it. Hope that makes sense.)

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The question is more complicated than the number of males in the home program versus the number of males in a residency experience. So here are some things to consider or not.

 

In his home program, does he get more performance time as the only boy? If so, does this extra on stage time make a difference? This could be a positive or a negative.

 

Does he have anyone against whom to judge himself? Again, a positive or a negative. Depends on the boy.

 

Does he have any opportunity to learn male variations? Does he get partnering time?

 

Is he still improving steadily where he is? Would staying there be detrimental to his progress?

 

How old is he? Is he better off waiting a year or two if he is still learning and growing or is it time to make a move?

 

When my ds was beginning high school we knew the day would come when it was time to go. But we tried to delay it as long as possible. Then one day his director came to us and told us it was time for him to go and dance with other males in a program with more options than the home school was able to provide.

 

We knew it was time. And he was ready for it emotionally. Some dancers are mature enough to leave home at 12 to train and others should wait until they are emotionally ready for the break.

 

My son left his residency, was home for 4 days and left for his SI. Are you, the parent, ready to have him leave. For all intents and purposes, my son left home for good at 16. Some of his friends were 15 and one 14 when they left.

 

So many things to consider.

I wish you luck making your decision.

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It is certainly not necessary for a boy to have other boys around in classes, but it might help with feelings of aloneness in an individual troubled thereby.

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My son was in 2 studios one with just one other boy then when we moved to Orlando there were about 10 boys. The early years were great because even though he had a female teacher she was aware of the slight differences in hands and arms that keeps the boys looking like boys. She was also a very strong woman who could do most of the "guy" stuff and made sure that he was given a little of that each class. She would even let some of the girls have a go at those steps if they wanted.

 

There were a few boys that came into his school in Orlando with very flowery arms and hands that it took a little while to tone down.

 

At the Orlando studio he had a male teacher with lots of boys but I think it is the teacher, how she/he handles having a boy in class, and having at least one other boy to share with is nice but not mandatory.

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Guest JustMigrating

cmtaka, that was interesting that you mentioned about the few boys with the very flowery arms and hands. My DS had that too (taught by women - his studio teacher and myself) - it went away once he left home for a residency program and took all male classes.

 

My DS first thought about leaving home for his freshman year, then decided he wasn't ready. He did leave home for his sophomore year, but he was very homesick. Junior year he switched schools and loved it - mostly because he liked the second school better, but I'm sure some of it was he was more ready to be living away from home.

 

I think at some point, a male dancer needs to be with male dancers in men's classes. But if your home studio has a male teacher that may be enough along with SIs.

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Great advice so far!!

 

I do think it is important that a male dancer have a male teacher at some point, and that he experience men's classes. Optimally, it would be great if he could experience men's classes every week, but if the home-training is great, and he does get into great SIs that have a fair amount of boys, then it will be fine.

 

I do think you have a few more years before having to worry about residency..... :sweating:

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  • 2 months later...
Guest MasterPuppeteer

Resurrecting this topic...

 

In an effort to get my 7 yo NDS ("non-dancing son" -- is that a common abbreviation here in BT4D?) into dance, I've been canvassing my area looking for an all-boys class, which he is enthusiastic about joining and which is the only circumstance he will accept for taking a ballet class. Having a male teacher is even better.

 

In my conversations with three studios who have all-boy classes, I asked how the class is different than a traditional technique class occupied mostly by girls (but is by no means labeled an "all-girls" class). They all said that an all-boys class occupied by 5-8 year olds spends very little time at the barre because if you put boys on the bar, they either want to climb it or hang from it or scale it. They do about 80% center work and 20% barre. Consequently, they encourage the boys to join the girls in another class during the week. In the Washington School of Ballet, the boys MUST do a regular technique class with the girls, then as a reward, every Thursday they are taught in an all-boys class by Kee Juan Han himself.

 

I applaud all these schools who recognize the differences in teaching young boys vs. young girls. After soccer season is over, it's off to the all-boys class for my NDS.

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When my son was 7 he also refused to join a ballet class unless there were other boys. Now that he loves dancing and has learned to deal with what he calls the "sea of pink tights", he no longer minds being the only boy if that's his only alternative.

 

At Houston Ballet Academy, the boys in Levels 1-4 meet together for boys class one hour twice a week. As this class is taught by the 2nd company instructor, they are mentored by the 2nd company boys (who otherwise would just be hanging around in the hallways waiting for the little boys to give them back their instructor). In the boys class they do no barre work at all-- just stretching, strength building, some center work, and lots and lots of jumping.

 

In addition to the boys class, they meet with the girls one to three days a week (depending on their level) for regular technique class.

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