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Ballet Talk for Dancers

DS feeling left out and teased


nynydancer

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Help I need some advice!

 

My DS - who is 13 and only dancing for about 7 months- came home upset because of locker room teasing from peers. He is small for his age, but muscular. He's progressing rapidly and receiving a lot of praise and encouragement from the faculty. A couple of the guys, actually one in particular, has called him short and fat (he is not fat), and criticizes his dancing and saying he is no good. It's really one boy, and the other just kind of goes along with it. They also exclude him. These three are the same age, but my DS is one level lower. They are the only boys their age at the school. They do take some classes together. They share the same locker room.

 

I know it can get dicey with the girls (I have one of those too), but I thought boys were better and would be more supportive of each other. Does this treatment sound unusual and should I talk to the teachers? My kid is not the kind to laugh it off - he hasn't learned how to do this yet. He is feeling like maybe it IS true that he is not good at ballet because this other kid says so. No matter the encouragement he is getting from his teachers!

 

Would you escalate to the teachers, or is this just normal locker room behavior and he needs to toughen up? I do think he needs to toughen up, but not sure how to handle.

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Well i think that at this age the adults need to take the lead. I dont think children should be left to sort themselves out. It is an excellent teaching opportunity for you too. I have never subscribed to the 'tough it out' approach either. Telling someone to do that doesnt work IMo. To me it leaves someone feeling uncared for. This is only my view of course but i think any toughening up ( developing other ways to understand etc) happens over time and with brain development.

 

So i dont know exactly what i would do (other than feel angry) but hopefully i would calm down and talk it through with my son. We have tried to problem solve together with him, listen to the whole story (including any role he has played in it) and explored different responses. This is the teaching i think. Ideally we reach a strategy we can all sign on to. We generally promise that the adults won't swoop in and embarass him further unless it is part of the plan. Good luck! As one wise woman said to me, embrace these situations and be glad it is happening to him now for the first time. At this age you can really shape his thinking. If it happened for the first time at an SI or when he has stopped talking/listening to you, he would be unprepared and vulnerable. So be glad you have been handed it! Apologies for any typos, i am on my ipad in an airport.

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Of all places, dance for boys should be their place of peace and acceptance. Heaven knows they don't get it anywhere else! I would talk to the person in charge about the lack of support your son has experienced among the boys. It helped my DS to know the teachers were on his side and helped keep the obnoxious behavior at the studio to a bearable level. Based on personal experience, it is unlikely the boys will warm up to yours due to the one making the comments. My DS moved from a dolly dinkle studio to a pre-pro studio when he was 10-11 years old. He had boys only classes at the old studio and a real camaraderie with his fellow guy dancers. The girls of his ballet class, however, did not want him in class which is one of many reasons I moved him. DS was excited to be going to the pre-pro studio with other guys his age who took ballet. The boys were friendly, initially, until DS began to progress very quickly in response to the great instruction. One boy, in particular, started to view DS as a threat and worked very hard to make DS feel completely excluded. It wasn't what he said to DS, it was what he said about him to the girls of the class and how he acted when DS was dancing. He would constantly make fun of DS and act like he was much too good to go across the floor with him during class. It escalated to social media bullying after nutcracker castings one year because the other boy was unhappy with how he was cast vs how DS was cast. In some ways, experiencing super supportive guys at SI's made coming home more difficult. The more success and the more progress DS made, the worse this kid acted until he finally left the studio. That was a happy day - let me tell you! It helped DS to know that dance was where he came to work, not where he came to socialize. It didn't matter what cattiness was going on outside of the dance room, it was the work inside that mattered most. This view shaped DS' work ethic so much that he was able to finish high school in 3 years. He is currently living the dance dream as a trainee and loving life. He is praised for his focus and his work dedication by his current dance teachers. The guys he dances with now are a great group of guys who are so encouraging to each other. The other kid? No idea if he is even dancing anymore.

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We have very few boys at our studio and they are all at different levels with the exception of my son (14) and one older boy (18). We are very lucky that all of our boys are very supportive of each other, but I think a lot of that has to do with them all being at different levels for the most part. DS had some issues at the age of 12. The girls were catty (to him and each other) and made him miserable. Finally the twins decided to talk to the teacher (Assistant AD) and she was able to let them know where they stood ability/technique/level wise. It also allowed her (teacher) to know what was going on and she was able to talk to the group and get them to channel their energies is a more positive fashion. I would have your son talk to the teachers to help him see where he is at and where he is going. With that knowledge behind him it might help him feel more confident. I know when my son knows where he is at and what he needs to work on he is much more confident with himself and his abilities. It has also helped him to ignore what people say.

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thanks everyone, soooo much! I think there is much wisdom in each of these responses, and I am very grateful. I really changed my thinking on this and I am glad I posted here. dinkalina, your story is so inspiring too! It's true, they SHOULD find acceptance with each at ballet school, tough as it is for boys to do ballet!

 

Okay based on your posts, I let his main teacher know what was going on via text. To my surprise she responded right away and asked me to call her. She was extremely supportive. She will coach my son on how to handle, because it's not a new phenomenon :rolleyes: and she's seen this before. She will also speak to the director. I also think this kid is really just being thoughtless and not really being intentionally cruel, and not realizing how sensitive DS is.

 

I think these boys really need to support each other!

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  • 2 weeks later...

I was surprised, but the teachers were great. They spoke to DS, were very supportive to him reassuring him his progress was fine and that he should listen to them and not a peer. One teacher even said the other boy was possibly jealous. I think they spoke to Mr bully because his attitude changed a lot. I think the kid did not realize how his comments were impacting DS.

 

I was surprised because I had heard that bullying with the girls at this school was not really dealt with, as there are a couple of notorious mean girls in the ranks at our school (one is a relative of faculty). One parent even warned me that it might actually hurt DS to complain. However it worked out well for us. I do think DS needs to get a thicker skin, but as someone who is still getting his bearings in the dance world, his confidence is still too easily rattled.

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nynydancer,

I am so happy to hear that it was handled in a positive fashion with a positive outcome. :)

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