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All men's vs. co-ed tech. classes during SI's

Ballet dragon

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DS (now 15) attended an SI last summer in which he had excellent co-ed ballet technique classes but no dedicated scheduled men's technique classes. The prior year, he had men's technique three days a week (co-ed with his level 2 days/week). From reading slhogan's posts about Houston Ballet, it appears that men take all of their technique classes with just men (no co-ed) at Houston.


Clearly there is variation among very good summer intensive programs. I wonder if others could comment on the pro's and con's of having co-ed vs men's technique, and how dancer age might influence those advantages and disadvantages. I recognize that good technique training is good technique training, but when do men really need their own class? Should there be some balance between co-ed and men's, or is exclusive men's technique better?


I'm specifically asking about ballet technique. Obviously partnering opportunities during SIs (which is addressed in other posts) is co-ed and important for men, and non-ballet classes are typically co-ed.


Thank you all.

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My son has attended 3 summer intensives-- Ballet Austin (age 13), Ballet West (14 and 15), and Houston Ballet (16). At all three he had a 1.5 hours morning men's technique class followed by a 1-2 hour men's variations/rep/coaching class. He rarely (if ever) took a tech class with women.


I have no idea if that's important or if it matters. I just assumed it was like that at all SI's. I'm curious to see what everyone thinks about it :)

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The men-only technique classes my son took at PNB were structured differently from the co-ed classes he's had at other summer intensives. The barre work did not differ that much, but the center combinations were geared toward the men. He loved having classes with just men.


However, some very reputable programs have co-ed technique classes, so I think a young male dancer can get great training in either situation. Most programs will have something separate for the guys like a variations class, even if the technique class is co-ed. My son would probably not be interested in a program where there is absolutely no class geared toward the guys.


Aside from PNB, Ballet West had all-male technique classes, but not at the two lower levels, two summers ago. Next Generation Ballet had all-male technique classes. The Kirov had all-male technique classes, but not for the youngest boys. English National Ballet School had co-ed technique but male variations.


A lot of summer intensives will advertise the fact that they have separate men's classes. ABT NY, if I recall the advertisement I read last week, offers all-male classes, though they don't promise this for the ABT programs outside of NY. In the past, I have also contacted programs to ask about classes offered for men.


I don't think the all-male technique classes are the only thing you should consider in looking for summer intensives. They are a big plus, but sometimes other criteria are more important.


Just my 2 cents.

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DS has access to male only technique classes twice a week during the dance year so while they would have been nice at his summer intensive, they were not necessary. My big complaint this past year at BalletMet was that on many occasions nothing was scheduled for the boys while the girls had pointe work.

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Chel - you just talked about my pet peeve - I understand that some studios (and summer intensives) don't have enough boys to provide it - but if they purport to provide boys scholarships - and then send them home or in the hallway when the girls do pointe - well, let's just say, it's not well thought out IMO

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The biggest reason my son would go away in the summers is so he could have class with just boys. Honestly, I don't think he would have chosen to go to a SI if they didn't offer at least 1 class a day that was just boys. Coming from a studio where he was the only boy, it was just as important for him mentally as it was physically to be in class with other guys. It gave him such joy to be around boys like him and dance like MEN. :party:

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In response to your question about age, I was told boys needed men only tech classes from adolescence (I suppose 13/14?). I assume as this is when they start developing more of a male body shape and musculature and need to ensure their developing muscles are moulded in a mens appropriate way. I think where it makes most difference is centre work- what is particularly missing in mixed classes is the big jumps and turns.

DS at Kirov (from age 13) has never been put in any mixed tech classes either in SIs (Ellison, Kirov, Royal Ballet School UK) or full time vocational school (Kirov, Dutch National).

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Both my dancers had SI experiences where there were combined classes, but also men's class at least a couple times a week or (better) daily. It was eye opening to see the rapid improvement in their dancing. Their technique was pretty sound to begin with, but their presentation of themselves changed quite a bit.


The oldest, 18, lives away and attends a large school where men's class is M-F, at least. There are occasional combined classes. There is men's coaching/rep/variations class of some sort in addition to that tech class most days. There is also very regular pas de deux and in the summer pas every day. My youngest, 15, is going away this year for the first time in a long time. He is definitely seeking daily men's class and hopefully daily pas. It is very likely he will be searching for a year round studio with this in place.


Year-round he has a male teacher for a large percent of his combined classes--there are three boys amidst the girls. But, even with this male teacher the class is geared toward the girls, with a few big jumps if there is time at the end. Actually two of his female teachers seem to be more mindful of time management and have tried to allow the boys more time at the end with coaching. The variations class is particularly frustrating as the gentlemen are last to run through their variation (again rushed at the end of class). What the boys do during pointe class is take an empty studio and practice turns (jumping is limited due to extremely low ceilings in the small studios) with the oldest boy (17) correcting the two 15 year-olds.


I wish my youngest had been able to go away last summer, comparing him to his age peers at his brother's school I can see he's behind a bit. It makes this summer all the more important to find the right place for him to be.


Ballet dragon, best wishes as your son auditions! Good technique is good technique, but men's class is more than that, there is a bravura that comes in a good men's class and some (hopefully) healthy competition. Men's coaching and variations are important, in my mind, as it's too easy for the gentlemen to be an afterthought once the girls run through theirs. It's sometimes entertaining that both my boys are well versed in Sleeping Beauty, Shades, and Kitri. I've been told that they may well use that information if they were to go into teaching. But I feel like they gain just as much by hearing the corrections for other young men on the men's variations and can tuck away those corrections for themselves.


Edited for typo.

Edited by tentative
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Thank you all for your words of wisdom. Your perspectives are interesting and insightful.


So, what I gained from your comments is to ask the following questions:

1. Does the SI have men's technique? How often? In replacement of regular (women's) technique or in addition to co-ed technique?

2. Does the SI have men's variation class, and how often?

3. What do the men do during pointe class?


I have enjoyed reading all of the SI reviews. I appreciate the specific questions about frequency and amount of technique, the question about whether rehearsals replace technique class, and the question about partnering.


I guess I never considered the value of men's specific technique class (and variations/coaching, etc.) because it is not specifically addressed on the template. Might I suggest that reviews from boys (and their parents) consider adding this information to the typical information that is provided?

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  • 1 month later...

My son went to PNB the last two summers, and the male only classes were one of the reasons he chose the school. I also like the fact that there were so many boys in the program the directors were able to split the boys into younger/older sections, so that the instruction is more age appropriate. My son was too young for partnering, so the only class he had with girls was a modern class once a week. The camaraderie was excellent. He has made friends for life!

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Our son went to Houston Ballet this past summer and most of his classes were with boys only.

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