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Ballet Talk for Dancers
Thyme

comparing boys and girls

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Thyme

Hi- I am new to all this and would really appreciate someone to explain to me the ballet world's view on raising a male dancer vs a female dancer. I read many comments that boys 'have longer to decide' about their career and longer to 'get serious'. Why is this? I have thought it is because they mature emotionally later than girls or is it something to do with the perceived increased competition amongst girls (more female dancers to compete for parts and jobs)? But these are only guesses. As the mother of a 13yo DB I would be really interested to hear your thoughts and experiences on this. :flowers:

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Pierrette

Perceived increased competition?! Female dancers are a dime-a-dozen - virtually expendable - while male dancers are a precious commodity, to be groomed, nurtured and coddled. The doors to the dance world stand wide open for guys: scholarships for training and college educations, higher weekly pay despite less training, and frequently having choices of which contract to accept - which causes male dancers to bail on their contracts at the drop of a hat if they get a better offer somewhere else.

 

My daughter is a professional jazz/ musical theatre dancer. Most of her New York auditions will have separate male and female dancer calls, but she's been to enough where guys were present. Of these, some might have been posted as a female dancer call, but the guys showed up because they had other auditions at the same time as the male dancer call. "NO PROBLEM! Come right in! Happy to have you!" Then while the girls have to pick up the choreography at the drop of the hat, the guys are given extra time and coaching to get it while the girls stand around. Then on the job, my daughter frequently has had to coach better paid guys in partnering technique - and has sustained significant injuries from their blunders. But this is the reality of the dance world, and my daughter simply accepts it.

 

Congratulations on having a dancing son! As long as he masters intermediate ballet and modern, he can find a place somewhere in the professional dance world. And if he can carry a tune, all the better! :clapping:

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Victoria Leigh

I know the above situation does exist, still, however I really do think that the standards for male dancers have been raised considerably in the last couple of decades. Take a look at the men in ABT, for instance. There is more competition for the scholarships these days, and definitely more competition for the jobs, at least in the ballet companies. You don't see it perhaps at the local level in towns outside of the major company cities, especially in terms of male dancers in training. Most non-company schools do not have many, if any, male students. But, the big company schools and the residence schools do.

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Pierrette

Most certainly, the competition and standards have increased at the top of the dance ranks for male dancers, but I believe the job market for male dancers has increased at the same time, so the demand for male dancers is just as strong as ever. If those highly trained male ballet dancers don't find a spot in a ballet company, they'd be snapped up in a minute by for-profit productions. Well-trained male dancers have choices: to dance or not to dance, if the nature of the job is not up to their liking. But for any well-trained male dancer, there is a dance job waiting for them out there if they want it.

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Thyme

Wow! I had no idea Pierrette. My use of the word 'percieved' was not meant sarcastically or ironically in case it sounds that way (I can see now it could be).

 

I said 'perceived' because amongst the parents at my studio, they would assume that girls need to be more competitive as there are so many of them. Us parents of boys would respond that there are so few roles for men in ballet so isnt the competition fierce for them? I see so many wonderful young male dancers and really wonder how my DS can find his way through them.

 

Anyways this is a really interesting discussion and leads me to think that the differences in paths has been based on a lower expectation of male dancers? Oh dear that is disheartening!

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ceecee

Thyme, I think that if you take a look at the dancer rosters for most ballet companies, you will find that the number of male dancers and female dancers is pretty close to even. The number of males going after those positions is far far below the number of females seeking the female positions! Just take a glance in any audition room & you will see what I mean.

 

I agree with Ms. Leigh, that the men (at least in ballet) are much better trained than they used to be & there is a great deal more competition than there used to be. However... when my daughter attended the ABTNY SI at age 16, ALL of the boys (about 8 of them) in her level were offered year round spots at JKO with scholarships. Only 2 girls (of about 30 something) were offered spots. So even though the level of training is excellent for the boys and the girls, you can reasonably conclude that... assuming that the dancers accepted to this SI are the (conservatively) top 10% of the dancers who auditioned worldwide... the entire 10% of the males get to stay, whereas only .6% of girls are offered the same opportunity. ** These are very conservative estimates... I did not research ABTs actual figures.

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Victoria Leigh

Good points, ceecee, and interesting.

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Momof3darlings

Yes, very good points Ceecee. I would add that I don't think the "emotional maturation" has anything to do with it, Thyme. Physical maturation possibly, but not so much the emotional quotient. I do think that physically, the musculature of young men after puberty has a different ability of intense training focus than that of females post puberty. So that may play into it some. But more simply, I believe that because there are less males than females vying for the spots in companies, then as Ceecee discussed it simply allowed for more room to allow for more leeway. If you need 10 guys and 10 girls, you may have 2000 girls to pick from but only 150 guys. Makes a big difference in how you might look at the auditionees in regards to what they bring to the table

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Thyme

this must be very frustrating for women trying to make their way.

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ifnotwhynot

There may be less competition for the boys but they still need to be extremely good to succeed as they will not be taken into either a school or a company if they are not what they are looking for. There are fewer boys at my daughters's school but many more are turned away than taken and just as many boys as girls have been assessed out.

 

I wonder if the reason that there are fewer boys and that they enter the schools later is because it takes a lot more commitment and determination for boys and most would want to be extremely sure that this is what they want before taking that step. I also think that it is more likely to be those with talent that do apply for schools whilst many girls still harbour the dream of being a "ballerina" and keep trying for schools even when it becomes unlikely that they will succeed.

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Momof3darlings

I don't believe anyone is saying that you don't have to be talented, ifnotwhynot. I believe what we are saying is that there is a wider array of acceptability of what "talented" is. I also don't believe it takes "alot more committment and determination for boys". It takes the same amount for both but there are also some differences in what is allowed. As an example, we know several young men who began ballet at ages 16-18 and are sucessfully dancing in companies. That would be a rare, if not totally non-existent description of a young woman.

 

Thyme-it is simply one of the things you can't let frustrate you. It is what it is and as the mom of a female dancer, I"m happy that there is something, even if we don't know what that exact something is which allows for males to enter ballet late and still reach it's heights.

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Thyme

thank you once again for your wise words Momof3darlings- I like to think that my DS will work his heart out like the girls and be taken on by someone one day not just to make up the numbers but because of his talent etc. I suppose the numbers advantage is some compensation perhaps for the social difficulties associated with being a ballet boy? :wink: As always it is fantastic to hear everyone's experienced voices- thank you for taking the time to explain what is probably obvious to many others.

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slhogan

Yes, at every studio I've ever been in, there have been far fewer guys than girls. But of the hundreds of girls at the studio, only a handful of girls had real talent/potential in ballet whereas most of the boys had that talent. Nearly every girl in America spends at least a little time in a dance studio, but guys don't usually join a dance class unless there's an inner drive leading them to it. Girls with very little talent will often spend years in dance training because it's fun, their friends are there, and it's a socially acceptable activity. Guys, on the other hand, will usually only stick around if it's obvious that they're very good at it.

 

In other words, years of ballet training can turn out a lot of girls with no career potential, but the guys who stick it out to the end probably do have career potential.

 

But, even taking that into account, the competition for girls is a lot more fierce than boys. It is what it is.

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ceecee

I also think that it is more likely to be those with talent that do apply for schools whilst many girls still harbour the dream of being a "ballerina" and keep trying for schools even when it becomes unlikely that they will succeed.

 

ifnotwhynot, many of the girls who are being passed over for jobs/top training spots are every bit as talented as the boys receiving jobs/top training spots. Especially at these top tier schools/companies. All of them are the best their regional schools have to offer. They are the Claras & Sugar Plums.

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ceecee

slhogan, we were posting at the same time. Just wanted to respond to your post. I understand what you are saying, and yes, you are right that there are girls who take dance recreationally. Truly, though, we are not even including those girls in our numbers. We are talking about company auditions and top tier training school auditions. The recreational girls don't even come to those.

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