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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Are boy compliments really true?


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My DS is 10 and for years has spoken about how he has no interest in ballet and always seen it as something his little sister does. At her ballet studio he’s been taking hip hop and theatre jazz. He’s made a lot of friends with girls in his class which I think has made him more open to different kinds of dance. He said he wanted to try other classes to see what he might like so we signed him up for different styles and levels like tap and ballet. The AD who taught one of the ballet classes he tried could not stop raving about him and his footwork and ability. He loved all the compliments, which of course made him even more interested in taking ballet, but I just figured she saw the potential for a boy student which is really rare at the studio and of course more money for classes. He tried a different class taught by a different teacher and that teacher sought me out to compliment him and recommend he try a higher level class with her. Since she’s not the studio owner I’m more inclined to think her opinion could be legitimate as she probably has no financial gain in encouraging him. At this studio I think there are about 3 boys altogether who are all about 8-12 so boys are very rare here. My son has done gymnastics for years and is strong and he loves the spotlight so he loves doing musical theater. I’m wondering what the chances are he is really gifted at ballet in the sense that he has the aptitude and potential for it and if it’s something I should encourage him to do. He’s interested in trying it out, because he loved being complimented and he’s excited about hanging out more with the girls, but unlike his sister he doesn’t love it. Or again is it just more likely that he’s a boy which makes him desirable? In which case I should just encourage him to keep taking whatever classes interest him. 

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I don’t think the compliments are just to pull him into ballet class, so let him enjoy them and feel inspired and encouraged.  At the same time, ten is very young, and the skills that a ten year old might have are no promise about the future.  They are skills he should enjoy and cultivate now, so don’t worry too much about what they mean.

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The compliments are most probably genuine. The hip hop and other classes he has taken would help develop good coordination. If he is interested in trying ballet it can't hurt, time will tell if it is going to be a serious interest.  I would also suggest taking him along to some boys ballet classes, workshops etc if they are available in your area as this often helps them maintain their interest in ballet over the years, especially if there are few boys at their studio. 

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Clara 76

Because of the gymnastics, jazz, and hip-hop classes, he is likely quite-coordinated, flexible, musical, and strong, which is likely why he is being complimented! He likely does have potential for ballet. 


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My DS was kinda similar. He didn't love love love it the way my DD did.  But it was so hard he was hooked because of the challenge--- aaaand the compliments indicated he could actually do some of it.  I figured boys express their love for ballet differently than girls, and then each individual is different too. In fact, after his very first class he came out scowling which for me meant he didn't like it and that was that.   But he did like it and liked it enough to soon after stop every other activity he was doing including some that were a big part of his life.  I was careful to never push him in any direction, but at 12.5 years I was like, if you want to do this, now or never, and so he did.

I am sure the compliments are legit with your DS and being a boy, they probably even more gushy and excited about him.  I think you can believe them, but I really think you need to let him lead the way.  I don't think there is anything wrong with wanting to do something because you are naturally good at it and get complimented-- this was my DS at first.  Ballet training gets very tough though and soon then there will be no more compliments-- just "better", "not as bad as before", "wasn't awful" to really super harsh harsh harsh critiques.  Your kid is still young but just be mindful it's not always gonna be like this. This was a bit of an adjustment for by DS who went from being coddled and fawned over to hard core training with tough teachers who rarely give compliments, if ever.

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Such a great question! DS is now 21 and the days of all that crazy complimenting are gone but I remember the feeling. Initially it was a heady rush. My son had never been great at anything and next thing we knew, he was being fawned over. Wild. For him this became a distinctly unhelpful thing. He grew to recoil from those teachers. I grew to see it as a red flag. There is something off about the fawning attention and the hype. I personally think your instinct to question it is correct. I don't mean that your son isn't talented but I would consider their motives. Our experience is that we sought out teachers who quickly moved on to teaching! DSs most important teacher rarely made those wild statements. He always focused on helpful corrections and sensible encouragement. Seems obvious but it was a cool shower after the hype.

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Thanks so much everyone! I love hearing about your son’s journey nynydancer which is so helpful! It’s good to know that boys can really look at ballet so differently from girls! That sounds exactly like how different my son is from my daughter. I would definitely never push my kids into anything so I do only want him to do it if it interests him. If he’s only showing interest because of all the compliments it’s a great reminder to know that at some point that will end and his actual interest would have to take over. I may point out that his teachers could be right that he has the aptitude for it but it still matters how much he wants to do it. 

Thank you so much Thyme for your perspective! I am ok with being grounded in reality and knowing people have motives! I don’t think either of my kids are dance prodigies so I would prefer for him to receive sensible encouragement and helpful corrections instead of this hype. Especially since the fawning could be the only reason he’s now interested which will wear off at some point and only motivation could take over. I would rather he decide if he actually likes it instead of falling for the attention!

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