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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Ballet is 'girly'


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Please move this post to the proper thread if this is not the right place, sorry!?


I have two boys, the oldest of which is turning eight soon, the other is five. Neither of them do any formal dancing, let alone ballet. The younger one is very fond of doing his own kind of freestyle, though! Even his teacher have commented on his love for music and movement.


Anyway, the older one recently approached his mother (and not me) with the question:" Mommy, why does Daddy do ballet? Ballet is so girly?" To which she replied that of course Daddy enjoys it and that its fun. He apparently seemed unconvinced, but has not yet approached me. Mommy mentioned it to me and asked me to explain it to him.


I am yet to attempt this and my strategy thus far would be the following: some brief history about where ballet came from, that originally only men did it and that women started later on. Then I would want to show him some videos of men doing ballet solos on YouTube, as well as some pas de deux. The strategy being to show that men don't do the airy fairy stuff, men in ballet are masculine and strong (lifting ballerinas is hard!)


Anybody have any other ideas or magical words that may do the trick? It would probably have been easier for him to accept me doing ballet if he had male friends his age that did ballet, but there is of course none. In his frame of reference, only girls do ballet at school and that is probably the source of his "girly" belief. I would dearly like to convince him otherwise, who knows, maybe him and his brother can do ballet too in the future! At the very least I would want to be accepting of the idea. I would hate for him the become the teaser of ballet boys in future!


Also, suggestions of appropriate YouTube video clips will be appreciated! (Have not yet had the time to go look for some myself!)





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Hi! I have two sons too-- 11 and 8. My 11 year old has doing ballet for a few years; my 8 year old loves to dance and has been in the Nutcracker, but he's too silly and hyper to tolerate structured ballet classes. They both agree that dance is totally for boys and will put up their fists and threaten to kick butt if anyone suggests otherwise.


A few things my sons have appreciated-- the sword fighting of Romeo and Juliet, the bad guy "Rothbart" of Swan Lake, and the gangs in West Side Story (all watched on DVD). Lately they've also been into John Travolta-- sort of a retro thing, I guess. They also enjoyed watching Ethan Steifel with his motorcycle in the ballet documentary "Born to be Wild". We rented the DVD, but it's also on You Tube.


We do a lot of fun, make-up-your-own dances at home to their favorite songs and perform them for the family. When I do take them to the ballet, we always study up on the male leads before attending.

They love the fact that a ballet dancer was used in Star Wars fight scenes-- Star Wars.

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I think that your son's use of the adjective "girly" simply reflects his maturity level. He's a kid and talks like a kid. If I were you, I'd simply explain that you love music and moving to music. Hardly a uniquely "girly" desire. In other words, almost everybody, men and women alike, loves music and most feel like moving/dancing to it. Also, you like to stay fit and strong. Male ballet dancers are very muscular and strong. Show him pictures of other male athletes versus male ballet dancers. Comment on how both need to be very strong and muscular to participate in their respective disciplines. Leave it at that. If you don't make a big deal of it, he'll shrug it off too.

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Posters, please respect that this Forum is for Parents of Boys to have their own discussions about issues that arise from a bit different perspective and experiences.


Threads in Cross Talk and/or the other Parent Forums are for parents of either gender dancers.


Thank you for understanding.

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try a youtube video of Le Corsaire Pas de Dex. The guy is not wearing tights, is shirtless, does some awesome tricks, lifts the girl all over the place.... all strong manly things.

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I think my first conversation would be with the Mommy...

Kids sense a parent's true feelings like sharks sense blood! If Mommy has trepidation/doubt/concern, the kids have picked up on it. That plays into their own uneducated perception of ballet.


So I would have a conversation with her first, to make sure she's on board.


Next, I wouldn't bring anything up to the children, but wait until they came to me to "talk" to them about ballet. But what I would do is start taking them to see some ballet pretty quick. And yes, I would watch videos of ballet too, but let it 'happen' rather than "defending" ballet. I like Hans' idea to have them watch class, and I'd go one better and see if they could "happen upon" a Men's class. It could be simply walking by the open door and pausing to see what's going on that may have an impact.


With little ones, actions speak louder than words.


Good luck. Keep us posted on the progess. :(


Just found this thread. It may have some information for you: Emotional Support

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I can't even breathe after that one Victoria!!!!!!


How about this:


Or this:


How about watching White Nights? Center Stage (fast fwd past the "nighty-night" scenes!)?

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Wow, what a response. Thanks to all who replied with ideas, suggestions and comments.


Hans: I also like the idea of them watching class, will see if we can hack that one...


Clara: You must be a shark too... Mommy has no problem with me doing ballet, but she is a bit hesitant that the boys may be laughed at when they tell their mates that Daddy does ballet. Of course, that has not happened, but it always could. If you think ballet for men is "frowned" upon in the US, it is far worse here in SA, especially in Afrikaans culture. Afrikaans men are farmers, they play rugby, drink beer, hunt during hunting season, can't cry... you get the idea. There are no such thing as an all male ballet class around here, because there are not enough of us to justify it!


Anyway, I sat him down in front of the PC last night and showed him the suggested photos of other athletes, pointed out the big muscles, the big air grand jetes, the lifts in pas de deux, etc. and compared this to other athletes. And then I showed him a lot of youtube clips of the Anaheim Ballet. He asked a lot of questions with me only being to happy to answer, especially when I pointed out something that I have also done in class.


He asked what exercises he can do to make his legs stronger so that he can jump higher, so we did plies together. He asked how one can be so flexible as some of the girls are in the video clips, so I showed him a leg stretch a-la-barre on the edge of the table. He was definitely in awe of a few things: Height gained when jumping, the strength required to lift a ballerina and how flexible ballet dancers is.


I don't think that he will asking for ballet lessons soon, but at least he understands better what it is about and that ballet is definitely for boys and that it makes you strong and flexible. I also realized that I need to talk to him more often about ballet and enforce the things I have showed him. (Maybe this will help Mommy too...)


Anyway, thanks again for the ideas. Will keep you posted on this one. I expect the younger one to ask similar questions soon!





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Oh good!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm so happy that things worked out!!!


Well, I'm not a shark- just unfortunately experienced in the murky waters of relationships... :angry::grinning:


At any rate- it sounds like you're on the right track with everyone :lol:


Keep us posted, and hopefully, you and your family can be a part of a change in attitude about ballet over there.

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Tall Guy and all who are having issues with explaining this to young boys.

I am fortunate, I have a young 5 year old (4 when he started to dance) who asked if he could go to dance like sis? I was not sure he would really like the structure and having to conform to an instructional and participational setting, so I enrolled him in a summer dance camp. It was everything from traditional dancing to hip hop and hawiian dancing. He loved it! I think the casual setting and variety helped pave his introduction to dance. When fall registration came I enrolled him in a ballet tap class. He just turned five. Most of his friends from his VPK class are in T-ball and soccer. He likes those sports but he loves to dance. He is the only male student currently in the school of a little over 100 students. He sees no gender. He is aware of the girls and that they are like his sister but he treats them the same as girls in school. Anyway, when we enrolled, there were many raised eyebrows from other parents and students and even some discontent parents.

So I decided to write the following poem, Yes I am a boy... My circumstances are different however, I feel it is appropriate as I think it shows the humanity of all children who like to follow their interests. And this may help your boys gain a greater understanding of dance and boys who pursue it. It is copyrighted by me but I want to share it with you, as I hope it will help with the issues of dance being "girly". It occurred to me that boys and girls alike come to the weekly dance lessons because they like to have fun. That was my inspiration ~Children having fun dancing.


Yes I am a boy...

Yes I am a boy you see

Taking dance lessons at this academy

Because I like to tap, tap, tap

Jump up and down and clap, clap, clap

And yes I’ll even point my toe

Because I’m having fun you know

I’ll arabesque and plie’ too

Passe’ Jete’ and Battement Tendu

Though I may never be a Premier danseur noble

Or ballroom dance the paso doble

I’ll shuffle ball step, and tap my toe

Because I’m having fun you know

Yes I am a boy you see

Taking dance lessons at XXX academy.

©Copyright 2009 MHL


I X'd out the name of the academy as I do not want to break any rules or etiquette. I printed this poem along with a picture of my son in first position in his dance attire (spandex bike shorts and a black danskin tee) framed it and gave it to the owner of the studio. She immediately hung it in her lobby and the comments and dissention began to hush and the other little girls seem to have gotten acclaimated.

I hope this helps. Also there is a wonderful rendition of the Nutcracker with Macaulay Culkin (1993 role: Prince). Many people don't know he is an accomplished ballet dancer. Also the late Patrick Swayze is a great inspiration for male dancers. My son loved watching the Nutcracker and recognized Macaulay when he saw him in the film Home Alone at Christmas time.

My husband and I attend every dance show and recital with great pride for our son and daughter.

I hope this is of interest and I have enjoyed reading everyones input and responses. thank you.

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Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, balletmom4boyz!!!!!!!!!!!


And thank you so much for sharing!!!! :yes:

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Thanks for sharing that balletmom4boyz!


It is strange how people have very set ideas about what is "normal". People tend to put things in boxes and as long as something fits into one of their boxes, life is super-dee-dooper! But beware those things that don't have boxes for they must be wrong and frowned upon!


I am so pleased for you and your son that he now gets to do what he truly enjoys, without interference from others. Children needs to have the freedom to experience things in life without prejudice and clouded adult judgments. That is the only way they can figure stuff out for themselves.


Lovely poem too! If only everybody with prejudice towards boys/men in ballet could read it!

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As I came home from ballet class the other night, the oldest one came to ask if I could help him with a game on the PC, this now while I was changing clothes. His comment on my tights were:" That makes you look skinny Dad!", but followed it up with "What did you learn tonight? Did you do any jumps?" So I showed him a few sautes, etc. No comment about ballet being "girly" made since we had our talk. So far so good... :grinning:

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