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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Miscommunication exposes my own fears


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I work on the road, and am gone this weekend. My wife called me extremely upset. My DS, age 9, has been "unfriended". Wife recieved a call from the mother of one of his friends, seems she went to pick up her daughter from dance class, found out DS was doing ballet. Now, when he started dancing, it was a tap class, THAT was ok. He is now in his second year of ballet. Ballet....not ok with this woman. My twin 12 NDSs are friends with a 13 year old male dancer from the the same dance school, and this woman told my wife that her and her husband were concerned about the "kind of influences" we are allowing our boys to be exposed to. My wife asked if she was concerned about the "kind of influences", should she not pull her daughter out of dance class? This woman said, "You know what I mean Gail. Its not an issue for girls, but can be for impressionable young men."


These are not uneducated people. My parents pay for my children to attend an expensive private school. This woman is the wife of a respected cardiologist! We live in a major metro area, not the upper peninsula of Michigan. I guess I thought other kids would be the problem, not the parents. My twin NDS were giving DS a hard time and we sat down and talked about respect and being open minded. The 13 year old who has become their friend had tried to recruit them, they told him no, wasn't their thing, but through that encounter got talking with him and found out he was a pretty cool guy. If 12 year olds can manage to look at something differently with open eyes and minds, a grown woman ought to. This school is a serious school, last year 2 girls won scholarships to college dance programs and another girl left to go to Interlochen. They have a male teacher on staff part-time who is a former pro. He is married, and his day job is as a physical ed. Isn't she worried what effect that could have on her daughter, maybe turn her into a "gym teacher".


We are searching for what to tell our son. Obviously, at 9 he would have a limited understanding of the social issues involved here. Any advice would be helpful. Thanks.

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My DS is 11 now and started with tap, too. It seems that once they decide to get serious and make the transition to ballet, it is harder to explain that your son dances without getting weird looks or having to explain that he is a normal kid who happens to dance. You would think that they were into something bad and no one would think twice if you said that your daughter danced.


Anyway, I think at this point, you just need to let him know that everyone isn't open-minded in this world. I've told my DS to think about how people are limiting themselves if they shut out anything remotely "different" in their lives. Just because something is different doesn't mean it is wrong. It's not like they are hurting anyone. So what if he likes to dance? Everyone has something that is different or weird, it is just that our kids aren't afraid to be a little different. If they don't want to be his friend because he dances, they wouldn't be a good friend anyway. Think of all of the opportunities dancing boys get that other kids in traditional sports don't. Bottom line, would you want those people in his life anyway? Doesn't sound like it to me...

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Oops! A non-Parent of Dancing Boy wandered in by mistake. The post was removed in deference to the special membership of this Forum.

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Sonny, its been fun reading your posts as you venture into the dance world. My husband and I are a few years ahead of you; our 16 year old is in his second year of residency school far from home. He began dancing at 3, but I think it was around your son's age that I started giving him little quotes and sayings -- just small reminders that he is who he is, we're proud of him, and we support his dreams. I mail him a new quote every week and he hangs them on the walls of his dorm room. He, too, has two older brothers who initially thought dance wasn't "cool" but today think he's amazing. It can be a rocky road, but reminding your boy often that you're on his team, you're in his corner, will let him know that if things get tough or his feelings get hurt, he has you to talk to. Don't let the naysayers get you down; the Village of Dancers who will support your son is filled with amazing, supportive, creative, loving people.



"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind."

— Dr. Seuss

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Boymom2, thank you for your response. As far as your last sentence, its not that I would want those type of people in our lives, just the idea of having to logically explain something to our boy that is so irrational to begin with. The other little boy is kind and sweet, regardless of his mothers attitude. I fully admit the idea of ballet at first made me queasy...not ballet itself, but worry about this sort of thing. But I didn't panic. I guess I am having trouble understanding why it was okay when she thought he was just tap dancing, but now??


GeeWiz thanks for the advice. This whole thing has me feeling a little bit stung, but I must say that I actually am enjoying the hell out of learning about the dance world otherwise. I thought it was going to be alot of effort to show an interest for my sons sake, but it has become an obsession to learn what I can, and am eagerly waiting for my chance to see a real ballet. Thank you both.

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I too have a DS that is 16 and in his third year at a ballet residency program. He started ballet at 6 after being tired of waiting for his twin sister that started at 4. It was great for him because he loved using his body and loved music. I remember seeing many a parent give me odd looks when I told them about his love of ballet. In middle school he was tormented and even quit for about two weeks, but couldn't stand it.


What I found helpful for him was to tell him that he needs to do what he loves regardless of what anyone thinks and that we would always support him. I told him to feel free you use us as an excuse if he felt he needed to, which he did a few times. (we forced him to take ballet, etc.) But that was to deal with other kids.


As far as other parents go, I must admit that when I received those odd looks I enjoyed explaining how much he loves ballet, how good it is for developing focus, the physical benefits of ballet and how talented he is at it. They really had no idea what to say after that. We all know what these parents are worried about.......and it shows their ignorance no matter how educated they are. Enjoy the fact that you have the ability to see past all of that junk and that you can support what you know is the right choice for you child.

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I'm not the right person to ask because I'd be openin' up a can o' whoop-butt on her. I'd make it old school too. :)


I'm sorry but, really? Really? I'm just kind of stuck for an answer because the sheer size of the narrow mind astonishes me. I'm not even sure how they manage to navigate the world.....I wouldn't want to be like that if you paid me big bucks.

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I am so sorry and embarrassed. My wife was lurking here last night and called me this morning. I missed her point. This other mother has a history of doing this to others, tries to pick fights, then claims to be the victim of some evil attack from others. My wife was venting because she let her self get pulled into this. I guess everyone at our kids school knows about this and tries to deal with her as best they can for her children and husbands sake. The reason it sounded so irrational, is because it is. I jumped to the conclusion that my wife was upset about the attack on our poor little boy, when in fact it was just her blowing off some steam about the situation. Furthermore, wife told me to get a grip, he has been dancing for a year and a few kids have said stuff to him, and if it wasn't dancing it would be something else, he survives his brothers so he can survive the big bad world! My apologies, I have read what some boys have had to go through on this board and guess I have a preconcieved notion that the world is out to get him. Anyway, my apologies, Mods, this whole thread should probably be deleted since the incident was not actually ballet related at all! Again, many apologies.


*edited with permission of member

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It is good to hear that your family has a sense of perspective on the situation. I think that your sharing of this can be helpful to all of us, in reminding us that hurtful people may have their own emotional issues, and we can choose to detach from their behavior. Your posts might be the very help another family needs!

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I think we have to keep this, as it demonstrates so clearly what can happen to boys who dance. Stupidity is relentless, and resists even the finest of educations. Maintain.

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Definitely we will keep this thread. And Sonny, I'm glad to hear that the attack was not on your son, but even more glad to hear about, as vision noted, the great sense of perspective that your family has. Sounds to me like this young dancer of yours will be just fine. :)

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I'm not sure why there is embarrassment.....at the time of your original understanding of the situation, your outrage was understandable. I am glad that things are sorted out. And yes, dancers do need to learn to handle all the things that get thrown at them and develop a tough skin. But, that does not excuse bad behavior on the part of others.

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While this incident was explained, you will likely encounter it again. So now you are better prepared to handle it. Our recommendation is simply to smile and ignore. Parents can be very narrow-minded and petty. And boys in ballet aren't the only victims. Girls in baseball and soccer get similar reactions. As do boys in cheerleading. Actually girls in cheerleading after about 6 or 7 get nasty parental speculations. And then there are those that will criticize why your child isn't taking honors classes or AP classes or enrolled in an IB program or choosing not to go to college right after high school or chose the "wrong" college. It goes on and on. Consider it a societal issue. You can try and educate them but if you're like us, you have a lot more pressing things to do with your time. So thank them for their concern and move on.


We are now in a situation where, after several difficult years and loads of negative comments, we get congratulated for allowing our son to pursue this path. And there are several parents that look at our son's current life - and lifestyle - with envy. At 19, he's done more than many of the parents of his friends have done. And has traveled many times more. Some of these parents are the same ones that were quite nasty to us 5 or 6 years ago.

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Thanks to all that have posted. In 1 phone conversation I realized that over the years when I have thought that wife was treating DS like a delicate flower, turns out that I am the that has been doing that. Last year I was oblivious to the whole ballet thing. He had some instances of teasing and he did not care! I don't have to be there to protect him from his brothers, all the times I am gone he dishes out as good as he gets. I realized this summer how much he is liking ballet. I started trying to learn about it, googled "boys ballet" and found this site. I work in close quarters so when I was in the break room 3 other guys saw what I was asked me what I was doing. I told them, and 2 of the 3 guys were not impressed with my son's choice of activity. Even though I never would have thought about putting a son in ballet, some of the things I have read about people going through on this board have given me a heavy feeling in my stomach. Not to mention what I hear first hand from a 13 year old dancer who my sons have become friends with. So I guess I am touchy. I don't know what this psychosis over ballet and boys is. But just from coworkers alone, I know its there, and have been waiting for it to strike. Ugh. Anyway, thanks to all that post here. I am learning quite a bit. I wish the world could be sunny and 72 degrees all the time for our kids, but that just can't be.

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But also keep in mind that there are a LOT of boys in ballet that are not represented on this board. And many of them have had a very positive experience. Some have had experiences that we would never wish on our own children. Most have had experiences that fall somewhere in between. Plus, society is ever changing. My DS started ballet about 10 years ago. The reactions we got then are not the same reactions that younger boys get now. Even in my DS' old middle school the reactions are very different. When my younger sons talk about their older brother they hear some negative comments, but not many. Most think it's pretty cool are completely indifferent. That's very different than what we heard 7 or 8 years ago. In fact, here's an interesting twist - some of my younger son's peers (early middle school) think it's ok for boys to do ballet but girls should NOT do ballet - they should be out playing sports and doing other "real" extracurricular activities. I laughed when I heard that.


Good luck with it all.

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