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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Middle school dance class and negative reactions


RRballetmom

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RRballetmom

Hello,

 

I am coming here today for some advise on my DS, a little background, DS is 12 yo and entering the 7th grade in the past he has done a couple pas de deux classes with his sister, and a tap class for a few months but has never officially wanted to start actual classes with dd at her ballet school. He was offered free classes and there are 2-3 other boys at the ballet school.

 

Spring of this year he was asked to choose his PE classes for 7th grade along with his electives. DS made advanced theater for 7th grade so he actually chose dance for his PE elective. I encouraged his decision, but also questioned it, why was he not willing to take classes with dd at a ballet school but willing to put himself in a middle school dance class (combo of jazz, tap, ballet) where he might run into some issues with teasing from the boys at school. I emailed the dance teacher and she informed me that she has only had 1 other boy in her 5 years of teaching at the school and he did great and as far as she knows was not teased. She said she would be happy to have DS. I talked to DS and asked him to talk to his 2 bff's about his decision and just see what there thoughts were on it. Both of his best friends said they didnn't want to dance but they would not tease him at all. So DS is definitely wanting to do this and says he does not care what people think that he wants to do this so that he can excel in advanced theater. I applaud him for this and I really don't want to try to talk him out of this decision. He is a very good looking, well liked boy by really everybody who meets him so he has never had to deal with teasing or bullies at all I am just a little scared that this might happen. We live in TX and most families who attend his middle school have that sports, macho type mentallity.

 

I was doing great with his decision up until July 4th, we were attending a bbq with friends and his bff's parents were there, we are somewhat friends with them as well. Somehow we got on the topic of how awkward middle schoolers can be (ds has been showing off and being a bit silly and obnoxious lately to his sister, we got on the subject of next school year and DS taking dance. The dad said that he talked to son about ds taking dance and asked what he thought about it? His ds (ds's bff) said that he told him he thought it was a bad decision but that he would support him and they would still be friends. His dad went on to say how he would not have allowed his DS to make this kind of decision and that he would have put his foot down and not let him take the dance class. I tried to explain to him that we did question him on his decision because middle school is a tough time with peers and that he really did not care about other's thoughts and that I completely support his decision. He just kept saying that he would never allow it and made me feel as thought I am setting ds up for a life of teasing or at least a middle school life of teasing. I have noticed this family not being very responsive to our boys hanging out together and now I wonder if this is the reason, if so it is really going to hurt ds, this is a friend he just loves to hang around with.

 

I don't know what to do, do I just let this all go and see what happens? Do I talk to a school counseler to get there thoughts or to see if he does get teased if he can change his mind during the school year?

 

Any advise is greatly appreciated.

 

Thank you

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I think you are worrying too much in advance. There are a lot of guys who do musical theater in school and need to know how to dance in order to do it. Will your son get teased - probably. I did musical theater when I was in middle school and all the guys who did musical theater did get teased by at least one person in the course of their involvement with musical theater. But the kids who were in band got teased too, so did the kids who were in the chess club, and the kids who were in Jr. ROTC, and kids who did all kids of other activities. If we only allowed our kids to choose their activities based upon whether we thought they might get teased there would be some pretty miserable kids in the world who hate their parents for controlling their lives. And guess what? There are plenty of guys who play sports who get teased too - because they aren't as good as someone thinks they should be. Kids will always find some reason to tease another kid, sadly.

 

My son was teased and bullied horribly all through school until he finally left regular school for a full time ballet school with lots of other guys who love ballet as much as he does and on-line academic school. Now if someone teases my son for doing ballet he tells them he gets to hang out all day with his hands all over beautiful women in leotards and tights and then asks them what they do - that typically shuts them up.

 

Personally, the only person I think needs to talk to a counselor is the father of your son's friend.

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pasdedeuxmama

I have had the exact same conversation, word for word, with the father of a soccer team mate of my DS. Did it change my support for my son's decision? Not one little bit. But it opened my eyes widely towards the attitudes of someone that I had previously enjoyed sharing company with. I was very disappointed that he had such antiquated opinions towards gender roles in activities.

 

My son has danced for 2 years. He has told exactly one friend, but others do know about it (usually because their sisters dance). The one friend he told went on an anti-homosexual rampage and they are no longer friends. Other friends are probably dismissive privately, but cool with it to his face. No one has ever made fun of him. That said, now that he's going into 8th grade, he's seriously curtailing his ballet activities in favor of other things.

 

I can't answer the question of what you should do. I live in a very liberal area and it's easy for me to challenge gender stereotypes, and my son is totally cool with that. But I always left the decision in my son's hands, with my advice. He has historically always handed the male friends' 'busting on' each other really well, and thought he could handle whatever people could dish out. He also knew he always had me 100% in his corner. So if he does do it, I hope that he knows you will always back him up.

 

I'm very sorry that your friend disappointed you. Doing something differently can bring out ugly things in people. I wish you and your DS all the best.

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pasdedeuxmama

 

Personally, the only person I think needs to talk to a counselor is the father of your son's friend.

 

Love this.

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Victoria Leigh

It is too bad that your son's best friend has a father with such such a closed and antiquated mind, but, that is his problem and not yours! You don't need people like that in your life. Hopefully, his son will not be in agreement with his parent's old ideas, but, if he is, then your son does not need him either. As finallykf stated so well, "If we only allowed our kids to choose their activities based upon whether we thought they might get teased there would be some pretty miserable kids in the world who hate their parents for controlling their lives". I applaud you for your decision, and your son for realizing that he really needs dance to become a versatile theatre performer! :clapping:

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RRballetmom

Thank you everyone for your kind words, it truely helps knowing I have somewhere to come and vent these feelings and get some really wonderful encouraging words.

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momtoemandel

My son's middle school experience has been positive. He didn't tell everyone he was a dancer from the get go, but over time different people found out. So far he's been lucky and not been subject to bullying. He does theatre as well, and people saw him dance because of that.

 

Really it is adults who react badly. I bet there would be so many more male dancers if it weren't for parents. Dancing is physically challenging, fun, rewarding, and gives them so much confidence. I don't understand how any parent could be afraid of that, but they are. They are.

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Yes my son had no problems in middle school as well. Our advice to him was that he didnt owe anyone information on his dance life. It wasnt a secret but it was up to him who he told etc etc. Everyone found out at the first school dance when he was up on the stage doing hip hop and a crowd of girls were cheering him on! He has never been shy about his dance life but has to date chosen to not heavily publicize his ballet interest. All the kids knew he was a 'dancer' and that gave him a lot of street cred.

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With any interest that goes against "popular" opinion, you have to ask yourself if you are going to allow other people to suppress your interests and rule your life choices, or are you going to live your life yourself. If your son wants to take dance, or skydive, or become a curling champion, who cares what other people's opinions are? Why worry about what people think?!?! Let him choose his own path! Everyone deserves a chance to figure out who they are and what they are passionate about without worrying about other people's static.<br /><br />My DS has been a dancer since he was 4 years old. Most of his friends have been totally cool about him being a dancer and the ones that weren't, well they really weren't worth wasting time on. It's really not the kids who are the problem, its the adults gassing on about a subject they know absolutely nothing about. My own brothers were extremely unsupportive of DS dancing until he was older and they could then see where dance has taken him. DS didn't get teased in school because he was a dancer, he got teased because he was different from everyone else. He didn't fit in because he was light years more mature and focused than his schoolmates because of dance. He had goals, obligations, and a work ethic they could not understand. While they were hanging out playing video games and getting into trouble, he was 3 hours into a 5 hour rehearsal. He is never happier when he is away at an intensive where is he surrounded by other male dancers. These are his people, his real friends, who understand what its like to live and breath something you are passionate about. Let your son be himself and see where that freedom takes him.

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  • 1 month later...
Boydancermom

Wow! I'm really surprised with your son's bff's father. He is uninformed and an idiot. I'm so sorry. Most kids get their opinions from their parents. Sad but true. I hope your son makes new friends. Our son was nervous making the move from gymnastics to dance and ballet last year (at the age of 13) - we haven't had any negative comment and I brag about him all the time to anyone that will listen - and we live in a fairly conservative Southern town.

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