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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Gymnastics vs. Dance??


Boydancermom

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Boydancermom

I'm new to the dance world and my head is spinning! Our son has been a competitive gymnast for many years (and I was a judge and coach in a former life). He just turned 13. When he was younger, he loved to do Hip Hop but my husband didn't want him to take ballet (ughhhhh!!), so our son had this bias against ballet and dance.....not to mention all the bullying that he gets at school for being expressive and a gymnast (instead of a football/baseball player like his triplet sister - yes, the hormones got switched in utereo!).

 

At any rate, in an effort to get him into a school that is more in line with his expressive nature (and hopefully where he fits in), we convinced him to try out for our local amazing School of the Arts. So he would at least know something about it (although rumor was/is that this school likes to mold their dancers), I set up a few privates at a local dance institute run by two men (thankfully) prior to the audition (we are still waiting for the decision).

 

After just 6 weeks of private lessons, he cannot stop dancing! He dances for hours upstairs in our house (he made a room into his "studio"). His grades are going down and he doesn't seem to have much desire to go to gymnastics anymore (despite the fact that he was State Champion in 2 states in vault) and the State Meet is this week.

 

My question is: is this typical at the beginning of dancing? Is there a "honeymoon" period and does this typically fade?

 

What do we do about gymnastics? The team requires 16 hours a week so I don't know if he can do both.... Have any of your boys done both gymnastics and dance? Is it possible? The studio he goes to has a summer intensive that he will go to - but there is also a gymnastics camp during that time.

 

Thanks in advance for all your help - tips for a newbie mom to the male dance world will be appreciated.

 

Deb

 

 

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My son was a competitive gymnast before getting into ballet, but that was when he was much younger than your son (he just did L4 gymnastics).

 

12-14 is an age when a lot of kids transition out of their childhood activities (I bet about half of your son's teammates have dropped gymnastics over the past couple of years). So, it could be that his interest in gymnastics is waning, and if that's the case it's nice that he has a different activity to transition into.

 

Or, dance might just be an interesting diversion at this time in his life, to help him deal with the stress of competitive athletics and the bullying he recently experienced.

 

Either way, summer might be a good opportunity for him to back off gymnastics and explore more dance, as long as he is aware it might cause him to repeat a level in gymnastics if he falls behind.

 

One of the members of this board (I think her screen name is Jamied) is a competitive gymnastics coach with 15 year old twin boys, one of whom does competitive gymnastics and the other does pre-professional ballet. Stick around until she weighs in with her opinion...

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gcwhitewater

I was a competitive gymnast during the early years of my ballet training. At 12 I had to make the choice between the two in order to continue to excel in one or the other. Competing as a class 1, different class system back then, would require 20 hours of gym time and I was also in the studio 10 hours per week. The choice was difficult as my parents were coaches and running a women's elite level program at the time. (Stating that I "grew up" in a gym is not far from the truth :)) However, I had both of their support in my decision to pursue ballet. Although I was successful with both endeavors, my passion was with ballet. It was a NEED I had. Gymnastics was just something I did. My point of all this is he should make a choice in the near future between the two UNLESS ballet is a supplement for his other training. I would let him continue to enjoy his ballet and truly determine where his passion is. Both endeavors require too much time and dedication to pursue at a very high level successfully. I also believe both endeavors require a passion to be successful!

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I have twins, one is a gymnast and one is a dancer. They were both gymnasts because I am a coach and they went to work with me. It was so much easier then. Once my one son discovered dance it all changed. Both sports require a passion. I have seen many kids with talent stop progressing because the passion was no longer there. It is harder on the parents than on the kids. Let your son stop gymnastics after the season and dance. As long as he stays strong and flexible, it won't be too hard if he decides to return.

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gcwhitewater

Jamied, I must take issue with Ballet being described as a sport :o!!! Athletic YES...a sport NO!

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Boydancermom

Hello all,

 

What amazing responses....lots of experience on this board. From gymnastics coaches, parents of gymnasts and dancers to former gymnasts/professional dancers....wow!

 

Our son is a Level 8 (out of 10) gymnast and will likely repeat Level 8 next year. (he skipped Level 7 and needs more time with Level 8) He had a fantastic coach in the SF Bay Area (former Bulgarian National Coach) but he doesn't have a strong coach in here in SC. (his team and teammates are always the bottom of the barrel). He is not being pushed and I think that has a lot to do with him being lackluster with gymnastics (there are no good coaches in the area). He doesn't have that passion anymore - but when I mention dialing it back (e.g. taking some time off from the gym) as Jamie suggested he freaks out and doesn't want to do that. As some pointed out - 16 hours a week at the gym doesn't leave much studio time. He is just doing a one hour private dance lesson each week to get the foundation in ballet and then will do a summer intensive at his studio and then begin classes and continue with the private.

 

I'm hoping that time will tell which direction he heads. Luckily the gym and studio are only a mile away from each other. And next week we will find out if he gets into the dance program at the Charleston School of the Arts (where he really wants to go to) - that will give him 1.5 hours of dance Monday through Friday during the day.

 

His grades really went down the past 2 months of doing both gymnastics and dance (at the studio and at home - he dances all the time at home and watches videos on dance). I don't remember him being this passionate about gymnastics when he first started (but then again, he was 3).

 

I'm hoping that the decision is a natural one for him and not something that is forced. Time will tell.

 

And for what it's worth.....ballet seems as vigorous as gymnastics (but I suspect that the comment above was an inside joke..).

 

One last question: with four kids born within 20 months of each other, scholarships for college will definitely come in handy.... Anyone know what the scholarship opportunities are for men's dance vs. men's gymnastics? (I know that gymnastics is very low, with not many colleges having a team, and only about 12% of all Level 10 gymnasts going on to compete in college with any kind of scholarship). What about dance?

 

Deb

 

Thanks for the advice!

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gcwhitewater

I wasn't implying that ballet wasn't vigorous by any means. It most certainly is. It just isn't a sport...

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My son was a level 10 gymnast and had to make the agonizing choice between ballet and the gym at age fourteen. He simply could not keep up both demanding activities. The hardest part of the decision for him was letting go of the social aspect of being part of the team and disappointing his coach. He went to the coach and told him he needed to try a summer intensive to really give himself time to make a decision. Those four weeks were his first time away from the gym in many years and it helped him to know that dance was really whis passion and drive. Ultimately the only thing he needed from us, was to know we supported him no matter what. Best of luck to you and your son!

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DebinCharleston-

Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers!

 

I see you've received some excellent advice so far. I'd just like to add a few things. Fine Art forms- Opera, Ballet, Visual Art- choose the artist. Not necessarily the other way around. So there is a difference between participating in a sport and being a conduit for an art form.

 

Not everyone who participates in sports will become a "famous_____". But we still want them to "be on the team", right? We know that they will learn "teamwork", "discipline", and have a built-in network of "friends". Being in the Arts teaches the exact same things!

 

Ultimately, we want to raise healthy, happy, passionate, adults who have an appreciation for many things and can participate in a productive life. Most of the children who had experiences such as being on a gymnastic team, being in the Chess club, or learning what it takes to be an artist end up happy, productive adults- no matter their career choice.

 

While there are some Dance programs at the University level that do offer Dance scholarships, the thing I have been so impressed by is the sheer number of dancers I have observed gaining full-ride scholarships to all kinds of colleges in science, or math, or any number of really impressive subjects other than dance. This is simply because dancers are smart, usually well-organized, and they learn from a younger age how to keep all the b a l l s in the air!

 

The other thing I do feel a need to mention is that just as in sports, or in any walk of life, one will find human beings who may not fit into the nice neat little box society decides is where they belong, either by virtue of their skin, hair, appearance, or appendages. Thank Goodness for those who defy convention by choice or by nature, because without them, the tapestry of life would be so bland. :)

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Boydancermom

My son was a level 10 gymnast and had to make the agonizing choice between ballet and the gym at age fourteen. He simply could not keep up both demanding activities. The hardest part of the decision for him was letting go of the social aspect of being part of the team and disappointing his coach. He went to the coach and told him he needed to try a summer intensive to really give himself time to make a decision. Those four weeks were his first time away from the gym in many years and it helped him to know that dance was really whis passion and drive. Ultimately the only thing he needed from us, was to know we supported him no matter what. Best of luck to you and your son!

Jama,

 

I'm curious - how long ago did he make that decision? What SI did he attend? Our son is doing a week gymnastics camp in illinois this summer and a 3 week SI at his dance studio (not residential). He will miss one week of the SI for the gymnastics camp.

 

Very good advice and sounds like a similar situation. Our son also depends on the social interaction at his gym (probably too much - as he socializes too much at gym :ermm: Did your son develop the same social aspect in ballet? How old is he now and is he still doing ballet? Did he ever regret choosing ballet over gymnastics? Does he only focus on ballet (or other genres)?

 

Sorry to be full of questions - just want to know what we might expect going forward.

 

Deb

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Boydancermom

Not everyone who participates in sports will become a "famous_____". But we still want them to "be on the team", right? We know that they will learn "teamwork", "discipline", and have a built-in network of "friends". Being in the Arts teaches the exact same things!

 

 

While there are some Dance programs at the University level that do offer Dance scholarships, the thing I have been so impressed by is the sheer number of dancers I have observed gaining full-ride scholarships to all kinds of colleges in science, or math, or any number of really impressive subjects other than dance. This is simply because dancers are smart, usually well-organized, and they learn from a younger age how to keep all the b a l l s in the air!

 

The other thing I do feel a need to mention is that just as in sports, or in any walk of life, one will find human beings who may not fit into the nice neat little box society decides is where they belong, either by virtue of their skin, hair, appearance, or appendages. Thank Goodness for those who defy convention by choice or by nature, because without them, the tapestry of life would be so bland. :)

Very interesting! I never thought about it in those terms - so perhaps dance is choosing our son? All I know is that he is so happy when he comes out of a dance lesson and also after his School of the Arts audition (while most of the kids looked nervous). He is a very expressive kid so I suspect that he gives him an outlet for expressing emotions - unlike gymnasts. Perhaps it's even better than therapy??

 

Two of our four children definitely march to a much different drummer and I'm so proud of that! Our 13 year old son is expressive and loves gymnastics and now dance (and sadly gets bullied at school). Our 13 year old daughter (his triplet sister) is an avid athlete and plays on boys sports teams (tackle football, baseball, rugby). This was more embraced in our old home of San Francisco than our new home of Charleston, SC, though. I guess we just need to find our "tribe" here.

 

Deb

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We will be your online "tribe", DebinCharleston!!!!!!!!

 

And remember- sometimes it's good if one is not "accepted" to a particular group, especially when that "group" makes their whole living on making fun of those who have entire orchestral sections they march to!

 

I'll never forget my "induction" into a High School sorority........they came to my house, having of course already notified my parents that they were coming- and, get this- woke me up. Rule #1- Never wake a sleeping Clara, so anyway, then, they told me I could not change out of my nightgown. I, sleepily said, "I am NOT wearing this. If you're taking me out of my nice, warm bed, I'm wearing jeans!", and I proceeded to put on my pants. While my hands were otherwise occupied trying to put on clothing, one girl pulled out a big tub of some sort of face cream, opened it, took a handful, and attempted to smear it on my face. That's the last time she ever tried to haze anyone. I bet her hand still stings to this day........

 

Needless to say, I am not, nor was I, nor will I ever be a "sorority sister". :innocent:

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Boydancermom

 

Thanks Clara! I can imagine the scene with the face cream! Glad you figured out it wasn't for you.I think that's why I'm so excited about dance finding our son (I love that!) - he will finally not feel like an outsider. I'll never forget in elementary school - he was being called "gay" (all sorts of variations) and his therapist told him about a bill in California (AB ?) that prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation - he made copies of the bill and handed it out to students who called him gay. (not sure if he is gay or not - last week he kept saying how "hot" the girls were in his audition) - but at any rate - I still smile when I imagine him handing out copies of that law. It certainly empowered him. I suspect that laws like that don't exist in South Carolina.... :ermm: but you never know.... really crossing fingers that he makes it into the School of the Arts. It is like night and day vs. the school he is in now. His sister isn't even allowed to talk to her friends at lunch - talk about a prison!

:wallbash:

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Good for him taking that initiative. He sounds like a great kid.

I've got my fingers crossed for him to get into School of the Arts. I've heard good things about it. It will be wonderful when he is surrounded by like minded peers!!!

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Hi Deb,

My son told his coach that summer after his first residential SI, he was fourteen. Trying to do it all was very stressful as he always felt that he was letting someone down. He is now 21 and dancing professionally with a company. His love is ballet but he has experience in all types of dance and also has done musical theater. I don't think he found that social aspect of the gym in dance until he went away to a year round pre-pro school. I don't believe he has any regrets about his decision except maybe he could have made the transition earlier which would have given him more time to focus on his dance training. Again, feel free to ask any questions, I wish we had known someone else who had been through that decision at the time. It was very difficult!

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