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Ballet Talk for Dancers

How did your son get started?


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Hi. I just joined. Our 8-year-old son got into dance after seeing Billy Elliot the musical on Broadway. He was so enthralled by the performance and asked us if he could take dance lessons. He just recently started a ballet class and a tap class. I watched his first ballet class and thought for sure he would come out saying he wanted to quit, because he was the only boy in class and being a beginner class, it was all exercises and no "dancing" (at least to an 8-year-old's mind). After the class I asked how it was and he said it was great! Since then, he's been asking if he could take more ballet classes. Of course, he's enjoying his tap class as well.

 

We knew how important dancing had become to him when he turned down an invitation from his best friend to go on an overnight trip (with the friend's parents), just because it would mean missing his tap class! He did think about it for three days (then solemnly told us his decision).

 

We have no idea whether he has any talent for it, or how long his interest will last -- who knows, it could just be a phase -- but for now, dance is what he is most passionate about for the time being and we're doing everything we can to encourage it.

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  • Clara 76

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Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, Eiko!!! It's wonderful to hear about yet another boy's developing passion for our art form!!!!

 

You sound like you have a great attitude and have a great support system for him!!!!

 

Welcome to the always-interesting ballet journey!!!!!!!!!!

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Now that I've finally got round to "signing up" I thought I'd add our story.

 

My ds started ballet when he was nearly 8 after spending quite a bit of time watching his younger sister in classes/performances. We went to see Cats and he said he'd like to be able to dance like the men in that, so I told him he'd have to start doing ballet first. He also saw Nutcracker on the TV (from the ROH) and thought the children looked like they were enjoying it :)

 

Went off to class with his sister and we quickly realised he had an aptitude for it! Auditioned for RBS JAs, turned down the first year (a bit young and new to ballet at that stage), tried again the next year and got on the waiting list, but then offered place before the start of that year. Performed with the RB as a JA, and did a run with NYB and was bitten by the bug of getting on a big stage.

 

Then it was off to vocational school at 11, "assessed out" after 3 years - horrible time :) - but then went off to another vocational school where he is now in sixth form. We finally feel like he's on the final run to becoming a professional ballet dancer which is all he's wanted (apart from a wobble just before the change of school) since he was 8/9. Keeping everything crossed that no nasty injuries strike. It's been a tough journey (and a very expensive one) but he's loved it (mostly :thumbsup: ) and I'm a very proud mum!

 

I was just thinking about boys training the other day, and how little is available to teenage boys in the UK if they don't go to a full-time vocational school. There are some associate programmes on Saturdays if they're lucky enough to get into one but not a lot available for classes throughout the week. I don't know how my son would've managed to do his RAD classes/exams - and we've got some pretty good dance/ballet schools in our area.

 

Anyway - enough of my ramble. Good luck to all the young boys and their parents reading this board - enjoy the journey

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Also meant to say that my son's response to anyone who's "had a go" about him doing ballet, "I'm fit, strong, fast, and can jump high - and I get to meet lots of fit girls"

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Thanks, zizza, you know, it astonishes me at how many parents think that ballet class is like piano lessons. One a week, and practice inbetween and you're good. It's not just in the UK, but all over! :wink:

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I just wanted to respond to the rhetorical question above about how boys manage to study for the RAD exams in a regular ballet school, especially if as often happens they're the only boy in the class. My answer was to give free private tutoring (two or three hours once a week) to our promising boy dancer, because without it I knew that he would never be able to cover the boys' work in class without totally disrupting the girls' lessons. And without those RAD male vocational exams, I am sure that he would never have reached the standard he needed to be accepted for a vocational school at 16. The boys' syllabus really pushed him to work on the virtuoso steps which he might have given up trying for if he didn't have an exam to pass, so really important.

 

I don't think the problem is just in the UK though. Probably a world wide phenomena. In general the lone male student in a school of girls has a lean time of it unless the teacher puts him/herself out to help him. We have three boys in varying grades at the moment and I know that if I want to send them for exams, I am going to have to find time to coach them privately. Problem, yes, worthwhile - definitely! :wink:

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So many great stories which is lovely to hear!!

 

My son, aged nine, first showed an interest in ballet when at 2 1/2 he saw a pas de deux on Sesame Street!! He was absolutely captivated (with tears in his eyes!) and said that he wanted to be a ballet dancer when he grew up. His interest in ballet succumbed to peer pressure when he started school and it took a further 3 years before he decided he was ready for classes. Showing an interest in ballet at such a young age, we worried about him getting teased. To help reduce the risk of teasing (which seems a very common part of being a boy ballet-dancer), he attends a studio outside our local area and he has not told anyone at school yet besides one very loyal friend who thinks its great!! He has also studied Martial Arts for two years and has learnt to stand confidently and respond assertively and with humour!!! He is growing more confident and plans to tell more friends soon.

 

My ds is loving ballet class. He is the only boy in his class, but seems to take it in his stride. He is currently rehearsing for his first ever performance and has happily forgone other activities to practice. As a parent, it is wonderful to watch your child develop their interests and follow their heart.

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  • 3 months later...

H, new member and happy to find this forum. My 9 year old started dance as a fluke, lucky for us it was one of the best flukes ever. He has been a wrestler since 6 and loved it. Due to his high grades and outstanding test scores he was invited to apply to every school in the Cincinnati area, and planned on wrestling through college and studying biology. After deciding on a certain college prep program we still had an audition at The School for Creative and Performing Arts to think about. He had a little interest in acting, but not very enthusiastic....he almost didn't go.

 

The audition for the younger students is for every major and they decide what you are best at. We waited a few weeks after the audition for a reply, wondering all the time what major he would get in for..if at all. Finally the school called and told us he has quite a talent for dance and he was accepted into the ballet program. He had never even watched ballet and had no idea what it was about. The school encouraged us to try him at a dance school over the summer to get him a little experience. Not knowing what to expect he went into his first ballet class at a school we found nearby. The instructors close the doors so the students can focus on learning without any distractions. 30 minutes later he came out with a big smile on his face and told me flatly that he quits wrestling and wants to dance from now on.

 

One of the proudest days as a father was seeing my boy on stage in the Nutcracker. I have watched him wrestle in national tournaments, seen him go up against defending state champions, but this was the best. I may get a few jokes thrown my way for having a son who dances, but I just smile. My son has found his passion and I support him fully. He wants to be a professional ballet dancer when he grows up and I will do everything needed to help.....even if I do end up sitting at a dance studio for hours napping in the corner waiting for classes to finish.

 

Now our 5 year old son dances too and will be starting SCPA next year when it will be the first K-12 arts school in the country.

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Hello everyone. SCPA Dad - I’m new here too but would like to wish you the same warm welcome that I’ve received on the forum. So glad you posted to this topic as I hadn’t found it and it's really interesting. I enjoyed reading about how your son found ballet by accident, and it’s great to hear how proud you are to support him following his passion. Best of luck to both your boys.

In some ways, I guess my son’s story is similar. He’d never shown any interest in dance classes, although has always loved music and singing he was always focused on sports. He was invited to try ballet by faculty at a pre-vocational ballet school when they held a workshop at his school. They thought he had the right facility – I’m still not sure exactly what that means! :thumbsup: Anyway, he tried it and despite our expectations that he’d drop it as soon as it clashed with rugby or karate – it soon took over as the main passion in his life and it’s everything else that has been sidelined. The technical and physical challenge combined with the musicality checks all the boxes for him.

He was 12 then, he’s now 15 and aspires to a professional ballet career - we are all very proud of him. We were cautious about suggestions that he should go to full time vocational school at 12 and instead decided to keep him in mainstream academic school, and see how the ballet progressed. It’s clear to us all now where his passion lies so the aim is for him to go into full-time vocational ballet training at 16. This of course means that he must train at an appropriate level and frequency and brings me nicely to the discussion above about the lack of appropriate training for teenage boys not at full-time vocational schools……..

We’re in the UK, and for us the training is there but not all in the same place and without the help of the best schools and teachers as zizza suggests it’s really not easy (or cheap) to access. His training schedule is precariously balanced across (and watch me testing out my newly acquired US terminology here) two pre-vocational school associate programmes (pre-pros?) plus two very good local schools (definitely not Dolly Dinkles?) plus a myriad of workshops, master classes and holiday schools (SIs?). My son’s huge commitment and determination is obviously crucial, but the glue that really holds it all together is the fantastic group of teachers he has around him. They are all so committed and passionate about what they do, and just like lovely Hamorah they go to great lengths to help him to succeed. They are a huge support to us as novice ballet parents and outstanding mentors to our son.

CG

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Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, SCPA Dad!!!!!!!

 

What a heartwarming story. I'm so happy that you are supportive of your son's interest and proficiency in ballet!!!

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Hi Coventgarden - just wanted to say please do get in touch if you want to talk about anything to do with the audition process for sixth form - it's a gruelling time for the parents!

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Thank you zizza, I'm sure I'll be glad of an experienced view. I've been looking at the application procedures this year in preparation for next and my head is already spinning with the variety of course and funding options, photos, medicals etc. before they even get to the auditions. Which year is your son in? Will he be looking for a contract soon?

CG

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CG - my son's in his first year of sixth form at Elmhurst - so we've got a little while before he's trying to get a contract (although less than 2 years now until he'll have to be sorting out applying). He went to White Lodge for 3 years, then moved to Elmhurst and opted to stay there for sixth form after various auditions. I know lots of other people with that age group who are either in classical schools or other dance/musical theatre schools, so hope I can be of some help to you for next year. It'll soon some round :)

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  • 4 weeks later...

My son started off in an YMCA creative movement class--all that little boy energy!

 

He fell in love with ballet after taking a SFB workshop led by Evelyn Cisneros at the age of seven.

 

He joined the school before he turned eight and has been dancing ever since.

 

He recently gave-up soccer, his number two priority, to focus strictly on ballet.

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