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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Boys only class vs "Co-Ed" stream


Hembie

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I'm new to this board. I felt compelled to join as I'm looking for advice for son from people who have knowledge of ballet training. My 7 year old son has been attending the Associates program at a ballet school in Toronto for 2 years. He's been having a blast. This past year he was in Boys Level 1 and the administration gave him and us the choice to move him to the Co-ed stream (Really a classroom full of girls and 1 or 2 other boys) or move him up to Boys Level 2. Both options involved him dancing twice a week.

 

He is excited about dancing more often in fact he's decided to add on the optional Jazz class. This is not the issue. Both Boys class are a bit a catch all. The instructors are great but boys certainly vary in skill. I'd say my son is middle of the pack maybe. The co-ed stream is certainly more focused in technique as they can spend more time on technique vs keeping a room full of boys focused on the task at hand. All of the boys seems to love ballet but of course they are more easily distracted than their female counterparts.

 

I asked my son and he was firm. He really wants to stay in the all-boys class but he also says he wants to eventually attend the professional program. I understand that there is no way of knowing weather or not he would get into the professional program this early. However would i be hindering his ballet training if he's in the more laid back fun class or is it more important that he be with his male comrades and then he can relax and enjoy himself. He did say he would like to move to the co-ed stream after this upcoming year.

 

I should add initially I did not think this was a big decision but then more serious parents were all pulling their boys and moving them into the co-ed stream. I mentioned to my son there would be more than one boy in the co-ed class but he really wants it be all boys for this year. I don't want to be that parent pressuring him into a specific class but I don't want to set him up for failure either.

 

Long story short. When does not learning as much technique start to hold a dancer back? Does it even matter before they are 12?

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Personally I think it is more important for boys to feel comfortable in their class than be pushed training wise until much older. My son didn't start doing ballet seriously until he just turned 14. Before that he had a year or so of decent lessons but only up to 2-3 hrs a week, and the 2 years prior to that he did 1/2 an hour a week in a boys class which was completely fun with very little serious technique (if it means anything the boys only ever took RAD grade 1!).

 

He is now about to start a year at the Dutch National pre pro (his choice, he was offered a junior company place but wanted a bit more training). He's almost 18. I am fairly sure that if we'd pushed him to take ballet seriously or do a class he didn't like when he was younger he would have baulked and possibly give up, though we never did so I can't be sure!

 

Of course every child is different and you can only ever try it one way and hope you were right. But IMO boys have longer before they need to be serious, and may experience more prejudice and negativity socially, so being with other boys and being happy and confident about taking ballet is totally key....

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Yes I agree with CeliB. Since he was about 14, DS has had periods without all boy classes and periods with. Our aim was for his classes to be fun and have good quality training. He would never have lasted if he didnt enjoy himself.

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Thank you for your responses. You've made me feel much better about my decision to continue on with the boys. He's having fun. I never thought I'd have a boy who wants to dance so seeing as he's the one who has to dance I'll let him do as he pleases. I"m new to the dance world. I never danced growing up. I just got so much flack from family members who normally don't interest themselves in his activities and of course some of the other parents. I wasn't sure if I was doing the right thing.

 

End of the day he wants to dance because he thinks it's fun. So I'll leave it at that.

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Let him stay with the boys. Our studio does an all boys track and a co-ed track as well. The classes in the co-ed track are one level but 25-30 students. The boys track puts three levels in a class but there are only 10 of them so the one on one attention more than makes up for the wider level of abilities.

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Boy have DS and I run the gambit on this one. DS is 17 and off to his summer intensive at present. DS started dancing at age 4 with an all boys class at a rec studio. That was fine for awhile but he would get super frustrated with the boys in class because all they wanted to do was goof around and not work. At age 9, he was bitten by the nutcracker bug and wanted ballet classes. The boys only class didn't do that so he started with the girls ballet class once a week. Being exposed to the structure and the work ethic of the girls class was exactly what he craved and started dreading going to boys only class. We finished out the year there and then moved to a pre-pro ballet school where he was one of 4 boys. That was a good transition but after the first year, one boy quit, one went off to be Billy Elliot, and one treated my DS like a leper. 4 years followed of being the only boy with opportunities to dance with other guys during summer intensives, partnering at another studio, and working with the two dance companies in down. His training has been extremely diverse in nature and he has really benefited from it because he can dance/deal with any training situation without too much adjustment. This year he is at a place in his training where he HAS to be around other guys and be trained by a male teacher. He and his home dance teacher try to keep his dancing as masculine as possible but they both know they can't keep it all that way since his teacher is a woman and he is really the oldest boy she's had graduate from her studio. He absolutely thrives when he goes away for the summer and is surrounded by guys older and better than him.

 

So the moral of the story here is adjust his dance environment when you see the signs you need to. If he is happy to stay with his boys only class, let him stay there until you see he needs more.

 

To the people who are giving you flack about him dancing - tell them to mind their own business. That may sound harsh, but they really have no idea what they are talking about. All of their fears and stereotypes they talk about for guys in dance are completely unfounded. They are as legitimate of athletes as any other sport, maybe more so. My DS leads a very charmed life because of dance. He has been given opportunities to extensively travel and experience life he would have never been able to do at a very young age, had it not been for dance. He gets to hang out with beautiful girls all day long and do what he loves. How many people can say that?

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I should clarify. They are not giving me flack about DS dancing rather my decision to keep him in the boys class, in previous years they gave me flack for the dancing but now that they clearly see that he loves dancing they now seem to want to give advice on what I should do in regards to his classes. It is really nice to hear from experienced parents with older boys. I'm more confident than ever that we're moving along at the right pace.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I would agree that at age 7, it's all about where he feels comfortable and finds joy in dancing. I might encourage him to "visit" the more technical class for a week at the beginning of each year, just so he really knows (and isn't just imagining) the difference between the two, but if he opts to stay in the boys-only class, let him. ... If he wants to be serious about ballet 3-5 years from now, I think he'll automatically gravitate to the more focused class. But before age 10-12, it's most important that he *love* what he's doing. (Boys get a little more time to make that decision than girls do, because their bodies are slower to develop. I think it's actually a huge benefit for them!)

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