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Hi everyone,


I'm so thankful to have found this forum. I introduced myself over at the general intro forum. But I'd like to do that here as well.


I'm the parent of a boy, 13 yo, who has taken ballet for about a year. He's also done other forms of dance on and off...tap, ballroom, lindy hop, hiphop (even baroque dance!)...but he has become more serious about it all lately. So I've been reading lots here trying to understand how this all works with lessons, Balanchine vs. non-Balanchine, Vaganova, SIs and on and on....


My husband and I are non-dancers, so pretty much at a loss...


Where to begin? It has been clear to us for a long time that ds "moved well". The first time we really noticed that he seemed to have something special was when he was the ringbearer at his babysitter's wedding. I think he was about 6 at the time. He got out on the floor at the reception and had the most amazing moves...everyone was coming up to us and saying things like "you have a prodigy on your hands" "what a talent", etc. We were pretty shocked. This continues to happen to this day, both dancers and nondancers alike.


Although we haven't been able to provide him with consistent training for the reasons below, there's something about the way he expresses himself when he dances that makes people notice him. It's not in a show-offy way at all. He's a pretty modest and normal guy. He fits in with his peers and has a great sense of humor. It's something else. I don't want to sound like I'm bragging, but that's the best way I can explain it.


I tried to enroll him in a few classes at that time, more "early dance/movement" type of classes. It didn't go over too well as there was a lot of pink tutu stuff going on, and ds did not like that even at such a young age. I think most of the teacher's really didn't know what to do with a boy anyway.


My main thought over the years has been, quite honestly....if I don't channel this somehow, he's going to end up spending his life in discos with all the negatives that entails......


So we've been on and off with various forms of dance. I'll just stick to the ballet for now. At age 10/11, I tried again, and I took him to a ballet school to enroll him. There were no boys there, then or now, and in retrospect, I think they are not interested in having boys. He took a few classes but the teacher seemed to kind of ignore him, not one correction, hardly welcomed him to the group, no intros to the other students. He's a friendly guy, so besides being the only boy there, that made him feel bad. He didn't want to go back.


A year ago last month, when he was 12, I decided to try again. There was newer school with a male teacher and a boys' class. We've been there for a year. He's learned some basic technique and he has been enjoying it. Lately, though, he's been telling me he feels he just doesn't look right when he dances, and he would like more corrections. And they dance a lot, maybe doing some things that the boys are not ready for technically?? I don't really know....


With his drive and motivation, I started to think that an SI might be a good thing for him. Unfortunately, we are going to be out of the country during the audition window.I talked to the director of his school about SIs, and she wasn't so encouraging but did suggest that we contact a pretty well-known non-profit company/school about two hours drive from us.


Well, I e-mailed the school, and that is what started all our problems. The administrator called me back right away, and we had a wonderful 30 minute conversation. All of a sudden after this talk, I understood much better how ballet works in terms of training....commercial vs. non-profit schools, and on and on. Long story short, ds auditioned for the SI at this school a week ago, and although they warned me that he might have to start all over at Level I, he held his own in Level IIb and has a place at the SI at the level if he wants it. He LOVED the class...it was quiet, serious, and concentrated.


The administrator spend another 40 minutes talking with me while ds was auditioning & while he was changing. She told me that ds has much poise, stage presence, talent, and musicality. They liked his easy-going, relatively uncomplicated personality and could tell that he has a strong work ethic. They also felt he has the ability to analyze his body and is intellectually involved in the process of learning dance, which seemed to be a very positive thing. He has good feet and turn-out.


But, he needs a lot more technique. When we returned home, I asked at his local school if there was any chance of adding a technique class(es) for serious students. And there are enough there of them, both boys and girls, to make it worthwhile. However, that doesn't seem to be something they want to do at this time....something about not wanting to have an elitist kind of atmosphere.


So, what should we do? There's one more local ballet school to try but I still don't really feel well enough informed to know if that is going to help either.


In the meantime, during yesterday's Nutcracker rehearsal, one of the other Moms, who is in the party scene and was a professional dancer, told my ds that he's landing wrong on a certain kind of jump and if he continues like that he'll blow his knees out by the time he's seventeen.


That really scared him, and us too. I have to say, now that I'm a little bit more aware of these things, I have noticed that there is a lot of uncontrolled jumping and turning going on at times. Ds also got his foot whacked by another boy during "coffee grinders" because the other boy was traveling so much.


So, sorry for the length. I hope I've been clear enough. I've left out some things, but I have to say, writing this, I'm almost on the verge of tears...frustration, I guess, and finding it so hard to know where to go, what to do, and who to listen to and believe....




Thanks so much for bearing with me!



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Sounds very frustrating. I am so shocked to hear of a ballet school that does not want boys. Usually they are screaming for them. I don't know where you live, but is there a city near by? With my ds we needed to drive about 45-60 min. to get to a good school. We took him to a school that is part of a professional ballet company. If you can find a situation like that I think it would really help him. He would also benefit from seeing adult male dancers performing and teaching. I would really try hard to find a school with an all boys class or two and if he's big enough a partnering class. Can he take a weekly private lesson with the man that is teaching the boys class? That might really help. My ds really learned a lot from the private lessons he took with a professional male dancer. If your son goes to the SI he'll get a lot of technique and information from that which he can use at home to develop more. Wish I had more suggestions for you! Good luck!

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I wish I had different news, but he is going to need to be at that professional school as soon as possible. At his age, he needs to be taking a 1.5 hour class at least 4-5 times per week, with a Men's class as well.


He is still growing and it is possible that without careful supervision he could cause injury to himself. Now, that's not to say that he will "never, ever get injured" if he goes to a more professional school as unless one sits in their room in a bubble, one risks injury, but the chances lessen in a more professional environment.


I'll bet he doesn't even know what it is he's doing wrong in the landing of that jump that could lead to injury. He needs to become as educated as possible about ballet so that he at least has a heads up about how to properly land jumps, and what jumps he should be doing when. That's going to take someone with the knowledge and unfortunately, it does sound as though the place with that knowledge is 2 hours away.


Now, what to do in the event that is unworkable for your family: See if there's any way he could take at least one class at that school per week. That might give him some help so that he can know what to watch out for at his current school. If that works, see if he's interested in reading books on technique, like Tarasov's 'Ballet Technique for the Male Dancer' to help supplement his training. Look for this book at the library; it's running about $140 used on Amazon.


He could also try a class at the other school, but before you have him do that, read around here about what to look for in a new school. Do some research vis the internet on the school first, and see if it's been discussed here on Ballet Talk for Dancers.


Please keep us posted on his progress. :)

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Thanks so much for you both for your suggestions,


I think I knew in my heart that we might have to supplement what he is getting locally. Just will keep quiet about it and hope that no one gets mad. He is taking many hours locally, but I think it's just not quite the level of correction he needs right now. For most, it's probably fine as they may not be thinking of a professional career.


About the jump, that's exactly right. He had no idea what he was doing wrong. But he feels that he's corrected it now. He was really upset about that, just felt that that it shouldn't have happened. I told him about the book on technique, and he's very excited to read it. He's that kind of kid. I hope we can get it at the library.


I will do some research on the school, but I really thing we're in too small a place for anyone to be posting on these schools.


I'll update soon with progress & news. Thanks!!


Best MJ

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Just an update!


We looked for the book you recommended, but our library only has 7 books on ballet technique (!?!), many with very small pictures and 5 of them were checked out. We did find 2 good ones, and my ds sat down read them cover to cover, took what he learned to class, and already felt better, more challenged, safer, and his teacher gave him some positive feedback. Interesting!


Also the professional school would like to have him as many times a week as we can manage to make the trip. Hopefully that will be two times a week, and we will continue the other days where we are now. We won't be able to start this until April as we are going to be in Europe for three months. Anyone with advice on schools near Basel Switzerland or in that area of France or Germany?? That's my next job.


Thanks so much!



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