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Ballet Talk for Dancers

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pasdedeuxmama

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pasdedeuxmama

I just needed a place to share! My son started dance lessons this summer at his sister's dance school's summer program. I was able to observe class yesterday, and saw him dance a tarentella, among other things. He looked so happy! There's another boy in the class and several more at the school, which is nice. We only had one minor incident during the day, which is when his younger stepbrother started teasing him that he was a girl for dancing ballet. I thought he and I both handled it well though - him for not getting upset and me for not jumping in to defend him immediately! Between that and him not wanting me to share that he takes ballet, I'm frustrated at a world that makes him feel he needs to hide. I'm so proud of him! I think more people would support him than tease him. Should I encourage him to share?

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bluemountain

This is great, pasdedeuxmama!

 

I wouldn't push him to share, he will do it when he feels confident and comfortable. What I would do (and what we did with our son) is to make sure he knows how we appreciate his dancing, how proud we are of him doing his best in it. What helped the most though in growing his confidence is to have great male teachers who serve as the role models for him. He is looking up to them, watching them performing. With the peer pressure... we made sure he has enough time to do other activities he loves and can share with his classmates, so he seems to be well adjusted. I remember how two years ago a few of his friends were at our house for a play date and I heard my son's voice: By the way, guys, do you know that I also do ballet? And look what I can do... (there were splits and turns following). I was so nervous... The kids' reply was: Oh, cool, can I try? And that was it, no hiding anymore :).

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It is amazing how people's attitudes change about boys and dance. When they first start, friends and family try to get them to do other sports. Once they have a little bit of success, everyone is impressed. For my son, it was when he started dancing in the Nutcracker. Now everyone one is so supportive, it is like they have forgotten the first few years. I say let your son tell people when he is ready.

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pasdedeuxmama

Thank you! That's good advice. I will, indeed, let him take the step to disclose when he is ready. In the meantime, we'll continue to have a dialog about it when things come up. I guess I'm thinking that the issue may be forced at some point soon, as I suspect that his little stepbrother will let the cat out of the bag, and he's planning to perform in the Nutcracker this year, which a lot of local families attend. I realize that I'm afraid for him, which isn't the best message to be putting across, even if it isn't being sent consciously.

 

He will be taking a boys-only ballet class at our current studio this fall (taught by a man that the boys really look up to, I've heard) and there are a number of boys in the studio, so he's not isolated. His sister's new ballet studio also has a male teacher who teaches regular technique classes, and if he's really interested, I'll make sure he can attend that as well.

 

He's also a competitive soccer player and plays for a local travel team, which gives him a lot of 'cred' with the guys in the sports department. He's going to be doing Boy Scouts in the fall, and has found a really nice outdoorsy troop. He definitely has our family's full support. His grandfather sent him a personal email telling him that he thought it was really cool that he was trying something new and drove 2 hours today (and now 2 hours back in thunderstorms) to attend a second parent observation day at the summer program.

 

I like hearing that jamied's son found support after he'd had some success (and perhaps demonstrated that he was going to stick with it). For the people that haven't fallen into line yet, as they see that he's serious and that it's not really that scary, and perhaps isn't going to change him (well, only in a good way), I'm hoping that they'll be as supportive of him as they are of his sister.

 

I feel badly that I get to share pictures and videos and tales of his sister's fabulously fun 'dancing' summer, while he is also enjoying himself tremendously, but doesn't feel comfortable sharing that yet. I don't want him to feel left out or that I'm not proud of him, because I don't post his pix on facebook. I guess for now, I'll ask him who I can send those things to - like his grandparents - and let him bask in the glow of his smaller circle.

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hi pasdedeuxmama- like all parents of dancing boys we too went through all of this (DS is now 14). I think the situation evolves with time as the boy grows up. We found little resistance to the idea he is a dancer when he was younger (he started at 10) but we did several things. One was not focus on ballet in particular- he danced several genres and we kept any discussion general. Secondly we did not actively hide his activity but we encouraged him to feel in control of telling people. As a family we agreed that he did not owe everyone any information about this or anything else in his life. He did not actively tell his peers that he did ballet but they all knew he danced. That was cool and fine. We gave him some options to use if the idea of 'ballet' became problematic (like that his teacher insists on ballet as a background for lyrical or whatever). This may sound sneaky but every boy I know has been beaten up in later years (around 14-15) so we felt that this was necessary. Now that he is 14 he has no problems but he goes to a school where participation is encouraged and many boys have danced at some point. He still does not make a big deal of doing ballet, he has danced in front of his peers on two occasions but this was lyrical. He got lots of positive feedback from that. so I think it is a continuum between actively sharing and hiding information. I think our sons need to be pragmatic about this world and manage this information over the long term. At 10 ballet may be cute but at 16 it may be a reason to be beaten up. If the same kids hear about it in primary school they may remember it for years. Anyways that its our experience and so far we haven't had any problems. :cool2:


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bluemountain

We did the same thing, Thyme. For a while DS was telling everybody that he takes ballet to help him with ballroom dancing (that was the original reason for starting ballet anyway) :). When he with his partner got to carry US flag for the junior team matches, his school teachers showed that video (along with DS's ballroom dancing) in classrooms. The kids loved it :). We also don't emphasize ballet as his main interest, but it is getting hard to do because he does pirouettes whenever he can :).

But he is only 12 now, we will live and see what happens when he is 16.

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JacquelineInAus

That's lovely news, pasdedeuxmama! I love to hear about supportive families and happy dancing boys! I also share your frustration at the 'minefield' we sometimes need to navigate when discussing our ballet boys.

 

My son auditioned for a pre-pro school yesterday and one of the other parents asked if he does any sports, and did I know that ballet was good for sports, etc.

 

No, my son takes ballet lessons because he loves it. No other reason! :)

 

~ Jackie

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well at least you weren't asked if he is gay! I have had that a couple times but that is a whole other conversation! :shhh:

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And I hope for the day when we can all say, "I don't care whether he is gay or straight. I just want to raise a healthy, happy guy, and I'll let the Heavens/God/Allah/Budda/the Spaghetti Monster do the rest".

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Couldn't agree more Clara76. It all gets abit tedious doesn't it? :yucky:

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I remember when I thought men/boys looked "strange" in tights. Now for me it's normal, and I sometimes forget that most other people in the non-dance world are where I use to be. I try to be patient with them because I've been there.

 

So many of the people we know have changed their view of boys in ballet since DS started dancing. They see what a happy kid he is, and now a boy in tights isn't so unfamiliar to them. If more boys would be brave enough to try ballet, the general attitude would shift. Our family tends to have thick skin, which does help in our case.

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It has been a little different for my DS. He danced Hip Hop for many years and was well known by family and friends for that. He has only been dancing Ballet for 2 years. We were pretty tight lipped about it too until he got a scholarship to spend this summer in NYC at Ballet School. Of course we told everybody and plastered that all over Facebook. He is ok with people knowing now and is pretty proud of himself for wanting to be Professional Ballet Dancer. We are extremely supportive of his dream!

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pasdedeuxmama

I'll tell you what - I don't care if my son is straight, gay or purple, a football player or a ballet dancer, I'll be proud of him no matter what. No one has ever said anything to me, but I suspect that some of the resistance that I feel from some of the older family members and some of the men especially, is from a feeling that by encouraging him to dance, I will 'turn' him gay. Which is ludicrous. I am sometimes surprised by what I hear coming out of other people's mouths with respect to the idea of a boy ballet dancer, but I've honestly only been floored by one person. It was the first time someone really got angry with me for even considering letting him dance, and I think it was the idea that I would 'feminize' him as a single mom that put the person out more than anything. I'm pretty confident that I can handle anything that comes my way. What I would wish for is that my son can see how I handle questions and arguments about it, so that he has a role model and knows what to do. That will be hard for him to observe, if he's the one telling people first. On the other hand, perhaps it is just as important for him to find role models in the dance community itself and the boys and his teacher will be able to help him.

 

He's never said anything to me about wanting to be a professional dancer, the way his sister has. Thus far, I think he wants to invite time-space travel so that he can travel about like The Doctor or maybe be an engineer or an architect. Dance is just a really fun activity that he loves. He would really like to be able to jump like Barysnikov, he says. He compares points (feet) with his sister and me for fun (his is the best, though only narrowly :D). It's not yet a passion, just a fun thing that he does. I would say that he approaches it like a typical guy! I probably shouldn't get too worked up about why he doesn't want to tell or when he'll tell, or make too big a deal out of it.

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hi again pasdedeuxmama! Yes I think we/I as moms tend to over think this stuff. DS doesn't have a clue if he wants to be a professional dancer while the girls in the studio have their lives planned. The whole 'gay thing' is boring yet real and to be honest I think young people are not so hung up on this as us oldies. My dad for instance has never said anything obvious but I am sure he does his best to ignore DS's ballet activity. In my father's generation being gay was probably a fairly vague concept and associated with girlie interests. Much to me and my husband's surprise, to the best of our knowledge, no young person (ie DS's peers) have yet raised this with DS. I say 'yet' because there are a few years left of adolescence and from what I hear, it is around 15 and 16 when things get abit harder. Anyways we sail on defiantly!

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pasdedeuxmama

DS had his first - his very first - public performance last night! It was at a hospital a pretty far ways from our home, so no worries about an unfriendly audience. He reports that he had a little stage-fright right before he went on stage, but then he started and 'it was great fun'! He's on such a confident high about dance today. I asked him straight out what I had permission to share publicly and was told that I could share everything, because it was so fun and he didn't mind if anyone knew that. We talked about how that might mean that some of the kids at school might find out, and he didn't mind. Of course, he's 11.

 

His sister, myself and DS discussed that it would be his choice when to tell people and we would let him handle any questions about it (though I have no problem stepping in, if needed). I'm going to selectively share with the people that I know will be supportive and let him handle the rest.

 

Looking back over the summer, he said that he was very nervous the first time he walked into the dance studio and he was nervous for a while. Now he says he loves it and is so glad that he did it. He's really looking forward to class in the fall and is sad that the summer program is ending.

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