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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Tall "thicker" boys (ages 8-11) in ballet - does it matter at


John'sMom

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I have a DS who is 10, tall for his age (probably close to 5 ft) and more on the thicker than the leaner side. He has been taking ballet at the same school, which is attached to a company,for three years. He takes two classes a week with girls (and one other boy) and then we are lucky enough to have an all boy's class, where the ages are from 7 years up to 12 or so. It was taught by a male company member, now by the male school director. DS has been in their gorgeous version of "The Nutcracker" as a party boy for two years now (actually the very same role and same cast). He just loved it, and was happy to be in the show, he is a natural performer.

 

Just recently the company has decided to include more "children" in its ballets. Last fall they had a production and included about 16 boys. it was kind of vague about how children made it into the cast, seemed to be something that was known among a select group of boys. One mother said that her son was recommended by the teacher, another said it was based purely on what the AD wanted (totally understand that perspective). I kept asking around, how do some boys who do not seem as far along as him get into something like that? Had my boy fallen off the radar?

 

This spring they will do a version of a children's book, and have recruited 55 boys and girls to be part of the production. We knew about this last fall, and right during Nutcracker I told the School administrator that he was interested in participating. Well he did not get on the list, and we found out about it the night before the first "runthrough."

 

I went to talk to the adminstrator and first she told me that it was due to costume size, and that all of the boys choosen were "small." Then she said it had to do with his technique. Then she said it was the AD that had taken him off the list. Finally, she then asked me about his Dad - was he tall, I said no he is normal size for a male and slender. I pointed out that there were a couple of boys that were cast that are the same height and one the same body type as my son.

 

DS has been getting consistently better, more focused and good evaluations from his teacher. I don't understand - why he has been excluded? I made an appointment to talk with his teacher, the school director.

 

This is my question - is his tallness and thickness enough to disqualify him from the cast? What should I do? I am sure that he will lean out and hopefully not get too much taller. Am I just deluded? What should I address with the school director :ermm: ?

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What? You want him to be rather taller - and those growth surges will even out the "thicker" look in his physique. I can very easily believe that he wasn't cast because he didn't fit boys' costumes in an established stock of them. It happens a lot when you try to cast kids. It's curious that your administration should have so many answers to one question. It's time to sit down with his teacher(s) and find out what their concerns for him are.

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My son is average height for 10, but he is husky. Thick to be polite. The only comment we have ever heard about his weight was "He will have to wear a tight fitting shirt for exams. He can borrow a company jacket to wear if he doesnt have one (he does) until his turn if he would like"

 

An awknowledgement that my son may be insecure about his huskiness and a way to make him more comfortable, has been the only convo we have had on the topic. Why? Bc he is TEN. He will gorwn, change, get stronger and leaner as he ages and works harder in ballet.

 

I have heard several posters talk about how their casting is also influenced by costume sizes. We dont run tinto that at our school. If the costumes doesnt fit, we make one that will. I made my sons entire Nutcracker costume this year bc none would have fit him.

 

What you described would bother me enough to seek clarification. I would want to know if they have already ruled my child out based on not the work they have done, but their size. However I also would NOT mention any of this to my son.

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The good news is that your son will grow out of his huskiness as he gets taller, especially as he increases the amount of time he spends in ballet class.

 

It does seem strange that you have been given a number of different reasons for his not being cast. When you meet with the AD I would kindly explain that you are wanting to know if there is something your son can work on to improve his chances of being cast in the next production but after speaking with the administrator you weren't quite clear on the reason he wasn't cast this time around so you were hoping the AD could help you be a bit more specific in giving your son guidance.

 

I know at our studio costumes are a BIG factor in casting and our AD and teachers make a very big deal out of letting students and parents know before, during, and after auditions that while talent obviously plays a big part in casting decisions, the size of our costumes also play a very big role. Our studio has invested an enourmous amount of money into costumes made by professional seamstresses and there is no way someone could just whip up an extra costume for someone for a production.

 

Also, when it comes to children sometimes it isn't just the size of a child that matters but how mature a child looks on stage; especially when it comes to taller and larger children. So it could be that the other child who is similar in size to your son may still look child-like on stage but your son may have already started to look more mature than the other children.

 

Another thought is perhaps when the administrator said that your son wasn't cast because of his technique she meant that your son's technique is too advanced for what they are wanting for the children's role in this production. I also have a ten year old boy who takes technique classes with the girls and also takes the Boy's classes as well. When we have been able to observe classes it is almost comical to watch him in the boy's class. The other boy's haven't been dancing as long as he has and aren't serious about ballet. It's the different between watching three little boys who are dancing around and playing vs. my son who is a mini-professional ballet dancer. You can tell he wants to be a prefessional ballet dancer just by the way he stands. If he was cast in a show with 50 kids who were similar to the other boys in his boys class my son would stick out like a sore thumb and that wouldn't be good for casting. Just a thought.

 

There seems to be a bit of a Ballet No Man's Land for boys after the Fritz/Party Boy roles in Nutcracker until they are ready for more masculine roles. At least that's what happens in the production ballets we do at our studio. Maybe that's what's going on with your son??

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