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Beginner ballet boy - how to find more boys?!


YorkshirePudding
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Hello,

 

I have been lurking for a while, and learning lots from you all, so thank you in advance.

 

DS (7) has sidled into the dance world almost without us knowing it, having started off loving drama, added musical theatre, and has then been asking to do more and more dancing to go alongside that. Having done tap and modern for a while he finally asked if he could stay on after his other classes to join in with the girls ballet, and go early to musical theatre to do a limbering/conditioning class.

 

He has been the only boy in all his dance classes for the last year, which he has been fine with, but would clearly love to find some other boys to dance with. He is clearly conscious that some of his friends 'don't get it' - "I'll tell xxxx about dance class this week, but not xxxxxxx because he will be silly about it." We are up in Yorkshire, but his grandparents live near Tring and mentioned the Boys Kick Start programme there which he was beaming and bouncing about, but can't join for another year.

 

Are there any 'experience' type days aimed at boys, or any other places dancing boys are lurking that we haven't found?! Don't mind a bit of travel for an occasional one off, but clearly a regular thing would need to be northern. He is not sufficiently experienced to be hurled into anything requiring knowledge or technique in any depth so many of the Boys Days of Dance would be a bit much for now. He's not about to give up because of the lack of boys, and he gets on fine with the girls, who are lovely, but it would be nice to reinforce that he is not alone!

 

Anyone got a suggestion, or does he just go into 'dance zone' and ignore the social limitations?

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just wanted to say hi.  I've got a ballet boy who is now 8 and started ballet at 5.  He was the only boy until 18 months ago when another boy joined.  He also does LJB associates on a sunday and there are two other boys in his class.  He didn't care that he was the only boy when he was!  All he wants to do is dance.  Why don't you look for an associate scheme for when he is 8?

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HI Yorkshire Pudding, welcome out of the shadows! I have a ds , and in my opinion I wouldn't worry too much about him being the only boy at this early stage. I have found that the boys who decide to take ballet, take it very seriously, and much less like a hobby.

It might be worth calling Tring and asking if they would allow him to take part even though he is a little bit younger, they can only say no. All the boys I know have moved  into associate programs quickly after taking up ballet if they are serious. My son didn't start ballet until he was 9, he auditioned for RB JA'S 4 months later and got in. Within exactly 2 years he sucessfully auditioned for WL , Tring and Elmhurst and was offered yr7 at all three.

At 14 all his non dancing friends are extremely jealous of all the time he spends with beautiful ballet girls, especially as most are at a boys only grammar, not helped by DS telling them all about partnering work.

Look at the Royal Ballet web site as I seem to remember reading about an introduction to ballet for boys.

Also let him watch men dance, as they will if he is anything like my son make him sit up in his seat and announce that I'm going to do that one day, and he has.

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Hello YorkshirePudding and welcome! How lovely that your DS has discovered a love of ballet - as did Rio Ferdinand, he may like to know..

 

I think your DS is probably still a little too young for associate classes, which mostly seem to be for children aged 8 and above, but I may be wrong - or indeed he may be coming up to 8 and therefore at the right age. Do talk to his teacher about his enjoyment and possible wish to undertake additional training at dance days/workshops or at associate schemes, as she or he may well make suggestions about what they think would best suit him.

 

It might be worthwhile keeping an eye on The Hammond School (Chester) website for details of their associate classes and any further boys' days of dance suitable for your DS - they are holding one such day at the end of this month but for older boys. You could also keep an eye on the Cecchetti and RAD websites as both have associate schemes (Cecchetti northern scholars meet at KSD in Warrington and the RAD has- or had - some associate schemes) - I think they may have also provided boys' days of dance including in the north. You may of course want to have a look at Northern Ballet's website for details of their associate classes and of their non-audition classes as these are in Leeds. There is also the York Scholars associate scheme which is held in York on Saturdays (www.yorkshireballetscholarshipcentre.com) and also provide workshops and a summer school. Dependent on where you are and how far you're prepared to travel, the Scottish Ballet associate scheme and Ballet West's associate scheme may be worthwhile. And of course there is the Royal Ballet School's junior associate scheme which holds weekly classes in Leeds - the Royal Ballet School website is worth a look as they have also previously provided boys' dance days in the north. 

 

If I have missed out any possibilities, I apologise. It may simply be best to keep talking to your son's teacher and to keep an eye on all the websites for any possibilities coming up. Good luck! 

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We have a seven year old boy who's been dancing since five - he followed his mother in after she started beginners classes. Now, his teacher actually has five boys (two of them ours), so it's not as bad, and she has one adult beginner too (me!) which means there's an adult role model banging (more-or-less literally!) about. He doesn't take any nonsense from his friends about ballet being just for girls - he'll cheerfully take them to task.

 

Things that I think helped:

 

* The teacher put him in a class he possibly wasn't strictly quite old enough for because it meant there was another boy in the class. Not a problem as he's physically precocious anyway.

* Seeing men dancing, even on DVDs, TV, cinema showings. C (our son) can name a couple of the RBs male dancers and was a big fan of Acosta (who he saw live dancing Manon a two years ago). Follow a couple on social media, show him pictures they post - Steven McCrae is quite active and posts some good stuff for these purposes. Try and watch some of the more manly ballets with him too. 

 

* Meeting male dancers - our teacher does some teaching with a more established school and makes sure to introduce some of the older dancers to the kids when she can. One of the older guys has gone onto professional training in London now, used to dance with the Irish National Youth Ballet etc. One of the other boys he's met has gone on to Royal Ballet School. 

 

* Doing a weeks summer camp last summer with Ballet Ireland - this had a couple of boys involved and, importantly, male teachers.  Even being able to observe a boys associate class some time might be good for your son if there was one handy that would allow it.

 

* Obviously, some vigilance on contradicting any ideas that other kids - or adults - are putting in his head. We had resistance from grandmothers originally ("It'll make him gay!" Seriously.), though that's gone away now. Partly because I'm dancing, I think.

 

He's been invited into a pilot associates programme that the Irish National Youth Ballet are doing now (that's he's not strictly quite old enough for!), and that's got him totally hooked - asking to do extra classes etc. The biggest problem at the moment is getting him out of the INYB track suit top.  :rolleyes:

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Thank you everybody! Loads of great ideas to follow up.

 

I took him to watch the Northern ballet Nutcracker before Christmas and he was in awe of the men, and wanted to be one of the junior boys - so yes watching more is a great idea. Lucky me too! He also gasped out loud and said ' Mummy Mummy she really IS up on her tippy toes!' - I think he thought I had been making it up!

 

Nice to find other ballet boy families out there - and that CBeebies thing is really cute. My son wears glasses so I will show him that and he will identify with it immediately!

 

Thanks again and I will let you know how we get on.

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I teach a lot of boys and I have a younger brother who used to dance. If you don't mind a one off bit of travelling why don't you book him a lesson with a male teacher. Dance box in Milton Keynes is ran by 2 excellent male teachers and Daniel Jones former ENB I think has just started classes in Stoke. Graham Fletcher runs classes from Leicester and I'm sure other people can offer more male teachers.

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Hello Yorkshire pudding! My DS has been dancing since he was 4 (now 11) started with a small school, and as the only boy, and now at a larger school with about 10 of them! He's a JA at Northern Ballet in Leeds, they take them at 9, facilities and teaching are amazing. Worth keeping an eye out for Balletlorent who do audition children at 7. DS did Rapunzel with them and it was such a confidence builder. Good luck!

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My son recently started dancing after years of watching his sisters. He has chosen not to tell anyone at school, but he loves his lessons every week. Hammond are auditioning boys only for their associates. The closing date was this Friday 15th January but the audition date has been moved from January to February so they might accept a late entry.

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Thank you again! Dancingboy65 I have just looked up Balletlorent, which looks fantastic - just need them to bring their Snow White a bit closer to Leeds!

 

Yes, Northern Ballet JAs is probably the best route in due course -if he progresses both in terms of passion and technique! we will watch and wait, but thank you all for your very warm welcome, enthusiasm and words of advice. Much appreciated.

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Hi Yorkshire Pudding.  Not sure where in Yorkshire you are but both the CAT programme and the JA programme at Northern Ballet have a good number of boys.  They also do non audition ballet classes for all ages which have a mixture of boys and girls.  It might be worth taking in a class or too if you are near enough to Leeds.

One of my DD's greatest friends is a boy that she met at ballet class when they were both 3.  He was the only boy in a class full of girls, but his love of dance integrated him with the girls anyway, and when he was about 11 another boy joined the class so he had a bit of solidarity.

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Hi - my 10 year old DS (well....not sure he will be a DS in the true Forum DS down the line as he has aspirations of playing Rugby for England!) is the only boy in his now Grade 3 class (very proud of his recent merit in RAD grade 2).

I think he secretly wanted to start dance years ago (as forever dragged around whilst DD did classes) & suspect that secretly he'd actually like to do more such as an associate scheme but is embarrassed as a) doesn't want to appear to be 'copying' his sister & B) it has not been suggested by dance teachers.....quite probably correctly as it would be unlikely to get full family support (yes - the 'turn him gay' phrase has been uttered!!) & he is also a very tall lad & with frankly terrible feet (think he missed that crucial 'good toes naughty toes' as shown in that cute animation by starting later than most of the girls!) He felt able to start as a male friend from his school class did it & he joined a class with 4 boys. His friend left but my son stuck with it much to me surprise....then he got moved up to Grade 2 as he is a little older than the other boys. I was very worried as this meant he was the only boy.....but - he stuck with it & the girls (whilst there is the usual reticence to hand hold when required stuff typical of any mixed class of 8-10 year olds!) are generally very accepting & nice. Think it does help as there is one particularly beautiful green eyed girl...his first official crush I believe :)  

Our local dance school is lucky to have boys & has great success with several going on to RBs JA's & SA's, White Lodge & many doing arts/dance related degree courses

I know my son is spurred on too as he can see sports  transferrable skills....he needs speed, co-ordination, ability to jump high & transfer weight in rugby just as much as in ballet & seems quite confident to state he does both! It may well help that he is very tall for his age....I reckon many his age would be too scared to take him on & tease him for doing ballet as he could easily flatten them (though is actually a  gentle giant - bless!).

He is always keen to go watch too....though again other family members think this odd - sigh.

So, good luck, I think it is really important that we bring up sons & daughters to have respect for all sports & all art forms & to embrace the opportunity for them to try all forms & to find their niche!

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Just to add to what Taxi has said .. My DD age 11 is notorious for attempting to recruit boys into ballet.

 

Quite funny to read instagram chat with hip hop boys her age telling her she's cute and they want to dance with her and all that blarney and she will immediately say "oh yeah, come to ballet then we'll see!"

 

:)

Edited by annaliesey
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And after a conversation today I discover he hasn't told his friends in school about the INYB because they'll laugh at him. <sigh> Though more in a "It isn't worth the bother" sort of a way rather than anything else.

Edited by Colman
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Father of a dancing boy here. Good that other classes are being done as well as ballet. That combination and versatility is in great demand.

 

Musicality just as important as flexibility and everything else and different dance styles help. So does going to boys associate classes (he started doing these at about 9 years old).

 

Just enjoy the time and prepare the bank balance...

 

Other points from above posts:

Looking at hair - that will never end. Ballet dancers seem to have a certain relationship with mirrors... Any mirrors... In fact any surface with a reflection!

Some relations will never 'get it' e.g to me as my son is in upper school now - 'so, what's he going to do when he leaves school?' And one brother in law who just doesn't talk about it at all.

Telling friends - my son didn't until he was about 10/11 and then only to closest friends. In fact, he did ballet at a different class to the others as there were no girls from school going to that class.

Sport- classes did mean that he was good at sport. There were some issues when he used to be picked for junior school football without having to go to practice... I'm sure you can imagine! But there has to be a choice at some point. Going to vocational auditions with a black eye from Rugby was fun! (Him, not me...)

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???? ha! Yes I should make the most of the relative calm and economy shouldn't I?! I guess if he sticks with it opportunities will present themselves. And if he doesn't he will be stronger, fitter, more flexible, more musical and know more girls than otherwise!! And maybe have better hair too??????

 

Just picked him up from today's class - today's analysis delivered with huge grin ' Maaan, ballet's tough - I love it!'

 

On we roll... Lovely to hear from you all. X

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My (now 22 year old) son always used to say that ballet made him fitter, stronger, faster, could jump higher and meant he got to meet lots of "fit" girls.  But he went to full time vocational school at 11 so didn't have to hide it then - he was one of only 2 boys in the local dance school but went to RBS JAs where he met more ballet boys.  My younger son danced until he was about 13 - didn't actively hide it from friends, but didn't make a big thing of it, but we sought out some boys' classes for him at Tring - that was great - a couple of classes each half term with a full room of boys and a male teacher.  He's now 19 and not really the physical type, more into his studies (and gaming!)

 

Oh yes, and the eldest is still obsessed about his hair.

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Stirrups I regularly get the question 'what does she want to do when she leaves school?' from friends, relatives and colleagues. As dd is in her second year of sixth form and has been at vocational school since 11 I'm sort of hoping there might be a clue there.

 

Edited to add one of my work colleagues asked even though she is starring the musical theatre round this year with her own daughter.

Edited by Jane
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Hi Stirrups.....we empathise about the rugby black eye....my DS did his RAD ballet exam looking for all the world like he'd been hideously abused.....bruises all the way up his legs (shorts at Grade 2 so no hiding it!) ....all from a  particularly brutal rugby match 3 days earlier! 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi I'm new to forum too not doing Facebook and social media I recently found this a great place to read up on ballet as im leaning quick and fast.

Just found out my boy has a place at white lodge summer school today too yikes he's sooooo excited x

To reply to your post glad there's another new yorkshire ballet boy mum ive literally joined tonight !!

I have a ballet boy at Northern ballet on the CAT (center of advanced training) he was one of the junior boys you may have seen in nutcracker in leeds !! (He loved it)

Lots of boys at Northern ballet great atmosphere he went to an open day age 9 last jan

Loved it so left his Irish dance classes in manchester and jumped right in!!

Fab atmosphere purpose built building! live pianist in all classes!! my son loves to dance can't get enough.

We live I sheff not sure where in yorkshire you are but it's worth the travel can be over an hour in traffic although closer midweek straight from school and I double back to collect, but sooooo worth it.

Maybe look at associate classes if your son is only 8?then do the CAT open day next jan ready to join when your son is 10?? Depending on his birthday of course xxx

Good luck to your ballet boy xx

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Thank you! That's an amazing and inspirational story. How exciting for you and your DS and congratulations to him.

 

My DS has only just turned 7 so we a bit of time before associate programmes become relevant, which is good as it gives him time to find his dancing feet, so to speak, but less good in that associates ( if successful) do seem to be the way to find more boys.

 

I'm not sure he is of that calibre anyway, but he is enjoying himself so we shall see!

 

Welcome to the forum and lovely to have another Yorkshire DS on here! We are north of Leeds so not quite your neck of the woods but it sounds like all roads eventually lead to Northern Ballet so you never know we may eventually end up there?!??!?!

 

Best of luck and keep us posted how he is getting on.

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