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MCC Backs Boys Ballet


meadowblythe
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I'm surprised it's that high. Our school, which is amazingly high in boys by local standards, would have barely made 10% in the recent exam session, including a weird pre-primary class that is more or less randomly more boys than girls.

 

The importing steps from sports for boys smacks of painting dumbbells pink for girls, but that's probably me being a grumpy old git.

 

(And if you wanted to encourage more boys into ballet you'd do something about the fathers and relatives who don't want their sons doing sissy stuff that'll turn them gay ?. No idea how. Maybe lots of stories about dancers and their scantily clad wives and girlfriends in the tabloids.)

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I think it's an interesting idea. My youngest son is sporty, and he has a great deal of respect for, and interest in the physical side of dance, even if he doesn't fully appreciate the artistic side. He did want to start ballet a while back as he had identified a variety of physical skills that his sister possesses thanks to dance, that he would also like. Ultimately, we just couldn't find time in our already packed schedule for ballet, and he didn't want to drop anything else. But had he gone, I suspect he might have proved to be quite a good dancer. In the ideal world of course there should be no need for ploys like this to attract boys into dance, or girls into more stereotypically masculine pursuits come to that. But we are where we are, and if highlighting the crossover of skills between dance and various sports encourages youngsters to try new things,then I think it's a good thing.

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5 hours ago, Colman said:

I'm surprised it's that high. Our school, which is amazingly high in boys by local standards, would have barely made 10% in the recent exam session, including a weird pre-primary class that is more or less randomly more boys than girls.

 

The importing steps from sports for boys smacks of painting dumbbells pink for girls, but that's probably me being a grumpy old git.

 

(And if you wanted to encourage more boys into ballet you'd do something about the fathers and relatives who don't want their sons doing sissy stuff that'll turn them gay ?. No idea how. Maybe lots of stories about dancers and their scantily clad wives and girlfriends in the tabloids.)

as an aside to that it;s interesting that  despite the  swing against  tight fitting stuff  sportswear wise  post 'lin ford 's lunchbox' etc in the 1990s if you look at the  current  trends in sports  it;s amazing how manyof the cross fit and gym types are  wearing  leggings and a  close fitting  tshirt / top ...  never mind the slim cut of  trackies  now and the rise of skinny jeans for masc presenting folk ... 

as that is an other   thing  that seems to  contribute  to  some of the issues ...  

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Ds had the most amazing RAD boys only weekend in Birmingham with Iain Mackay and Robert Parker in 2011. They were wonderful role models. This looks to be a very welcome fundraising and publicity drive to boost the scheme.

 

I like the sound of the funds to help boys/men train as RAD teachers. Sadly, it doesn’t seem to be anything concrete yet, but I’ve sent ds a link to the RAD website in case he wants a plan B after university. He is so incredibly immersed in the dance/ballet scene there that I wouldn’t be surprised if he was interested.

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The teaching is a funny one isn't it?  I suspect my DS will go down the fitness/gym route later, although teaching (non dance) is in his blood, and he would be very good at it.

 

what are the particular challenges that male ballet teachers face?

 

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29 minutes ago, meadowblythe said:

 

The teaching is a funny one isn't it?  I suspect my DS will go down the fitness/gym route later, although teaching (non dance) is in his blood, and he would be very good at it.

 

what are the particular challenges that male ballet teachers face?

 

Other than being a male  in  overwhelming  female profession  and one where the students are  overwhelmingly  female ...  ?

look at  the societal prejudices against   men in Primary  school teaching, their near absence in EYFS ,  and the  persisting  stigma  surrounding  men in Nursing  (  most of the men in Nursing are  'Adult'  or ' Mental Health' qualified , Learning  Disabilities nurses are a small proprtion of the register but their  gender mix  apparently  somewhere  in the ball park of  Adult and Mental health )   there are comparitively  few  Masc presenting single registration Child Branch  Nurses  ( vs those who got  it as a second registration during the big push to get  Child branch Nurses into  all age settings such as A+E  or  peri-operative )  the numbers of Men in Health Visiting and midwifery is tiny ...  and that is   setting where the client base is 50 /50 

While  it's not as a much of an issue  issue for someone  who has a professional reputation as a performer  and is teaching at  higher  (skill) levels  ,
or perhaps not an  issue if  someone was a QTS and  teaching  dance in school alongside  PE   or Drama; I'm not sure how well a male  teacher would go down in the average  'after  school  activty' dance school ...  given that masc presenting  adult students get the occasional  sideways look from ( the small  number of )  the less clued up  parents  ...  

then there;s the presumption that a male teacher  cannot  teach  the higher  levels for female students  becasue  the traditionalists assert that  boys  don't (and shouldn't  unless playing Bottom in  Dream)  do pointe ... 
 

Edited by mph
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I do remember one of the EYB males saying he had to go en pointe to teach to advance 1/2 standard - I think - it may have been a long time ago.  Isn't it interesting that females can teach males to higher levels without comment?

 

Interestingly, I was thinking more of the practicalities of a male teaching presumably a largely female class, and the stigma had completely passed me by.  I was thinking more of issues around handling (for want of a better word) girls.   But that's as the parent of a dancer who has grown up in a very supportive village.  

 

I think we may be getting clues as to why so few male teachers!  Other than not enough taking ballet to a reasonable level to start with.

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Dd had a male teacher at local small village dance school before heading to voc school. He taught the earlier RAD grades, tap and some free style ballet classes for advanced students. 

Dd never had a teacher go en pointe so strange a male dancer felt he had to. 

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Some years ago at Dance Attic I had a male teacher - we were an advanced adult ballet class. He was amazing and also a fab pianist and accompanied us too, standing up whilst his feet/legs did the barre exercises, hands played and his eyes watched. I recall he was Chinese but sadly don't remember his name. I loved his classes. 

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As a pianist but not a dancer I am in total awe of this unknown teacher.  I can't even manage the pedals on the organ - musicalDD and I play it as a piano duet instead ....

 

The idea of dancing and playing the piano has just blown a few fuses in my little brain.

 

 

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I know!! It really struck me st the time too and I've obviously never forgotten him (just his name annoyingly). If anyone else took class on a Saturday morning in the early to mid 90's who also remembers him? He was a lovely dancer too...

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3 hours ago, mph said:


then there;s the presumption that a male teacher  cannot  teach  the higher  levels for female students  becasue  the traditionalists assert that  boys  don't (and shouldn't  unless playing Bottom in  Dream)  do pointe ... 
 

Male teachers don't need to teach higher level female students how to dance en pointe - they can already do that - but male teachers can certainly take class and coach variations, and female teachers frequently teach male variations. In fact my dd was at a recent masterclass where a man taught the class, and afterwards a woman did the variation coaching (including the male one). Some of my dd's favourite teachers are male. Sex/gender has no bearing on how good the teacher is.

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18 minutes ago, taxi4ballet said:

Male teachers don't need to teach higher level female students how to dance en pointe - they can already do that - but male teachers can certainly take class and coach variations, and female teachers frequently teach male variations. In fact my dd was at a recent masterclass where a man taught the class, and afterwards a woman did the variation coaching (including the male one). Some of my dd's favourite teachers are male. Sex/gender has no bearing on how good the teacher is.


once  again pointe missed   in such a topic ... 

we aren't talking about Masterclasses etc   ( see caveat in my earlier  post  about  those who teach at  the highest levels  ),

Put yourself in the position of someone running the typical urban / sub urban  studio of reasonable quality 

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I think there is a lot of prejudice against men in what might be considered children's settings, unless in the role of sports coaching. Men are very under represented in areas such as nursery nursing, primary school teaching, health visiting and children's nursing for instance. Our village  primary school is quite unusual I think in that the majority of the teachers are male, but I have heard ridiculous comments along the lines that there must be something "odd" about the (absolutely brilliant) reception teacher. Apparently some people think that it's not a proper job for a man!  I think that sadly many parents would be suspicious of a male teacher in the typical local ballet school where the majority of pupils are young girls. Unfortunately, whilst it seems to be generally seen as a good thing for girls to enter traditionally male fields, the same does not yet apply in reverse. I think that's a real shame. Everyone should be free to use their talents in the best way possible, regardless of their gender. Hopefully things will change in time.

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4 minutes ago, Pups_mum said:

I think there is a lot of prejudice against men in what might be considered children's settings, unless in the role of sports coaching. Men are very under represented in areas such as nursery nursing, primary school teaching, health visiting and children's nursing for instance. Our village  primary school is quite unusual I think in that the majority of the teachers are male, but I have heard ridiculous comments along the lines that there must be something "odd" about the (absolutely brilliant) reception teacher. Apparently some people think that it's not a proper job for a man!  I think that sadly many parents would be suspicious of a male teacher in the typical local ballet school where the majority of pupils are young girls. Unfortunately, whilst it seems to be generally seen as a good thing for girls to enter traditionally male fields, the same does not yet apply in reverse. I think that's a real shame. Everyone should be free to use their talents in the best way possible, regardless of their gender. Hopefully things will change in time.


Absolutely, and the prejudice in Nursing in embedded  through the physical health side of the profession  , men in Nursing are accused of being favoured in promotion ( rather than  not taking  career breaks  at   points that are career critical  but happen to fall  at common ages to  get married and  produce sproglets and /or    the self selection bias when applying for pre-reg ...  not many men in Nursing 'fell into it' ) and  ghettoising  certain clinical areas  ( e.g.  Emergency care , ICU and Perioperative )

there is a structural bias against men in 'children's settings' related to  the aspect of  child care being a 'mother'  thing  ... 
 

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24 minutes ago, taxi4ballet said:

Ah yes, mph. You miss the point also. 

 

Try putting yourself in the position of someone whose child has been doing ballet for 15 years. They might have a different viewpoint but it is equally valid.

I think the point that mph was making (though I am sure he will correct me if I am wrong) is that the difficulties that a male teacher might experience at "grass roots" level are quite different to what might be the norm in, say a vocational school or masterclass setting. The majority of posters here have children who are serious about their dance, whether they hope to make it their career or not, and I imagine that we would all be perfectly happy with teachers of any gender, provided they were good. But we are not really representative  of parents in the typical local dance school are we? I imagine that the majority of local teachers obtain most of their income from the large numbers of once or twice a week students rather than the relatively small number of "serious" students that a school may have at any given time. Whilst it's obviously not universal, I do think that given the choice, many, if not most, mothers would tend to favour a female teacher for their little girls starting ballet and would be suspicious of a man in that role. Personally I think that's illogical, but I have certainly observed this kind of attitude and I think it would make it harder for a man to establish himself as a grassroots ballet teacher than a woman of equal talent.

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My ds has had absolutely no problem when teaching in "typical urban/sub urban"  situations and is very popular with parents and students alike. He also works in a school (not dance!) and is one of several male members of staff.

 

All teachers have to be mindful of how to handle students and yes, a male Ballet teacher does need to be careful about physical corrections especially if teaching solo with no pianist or assistance. When training teachers of either sex I have always advised against avoiding being alone with any young students. 

 

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12 hours ago, Pups_mum said:

I think the point that mph was making (though I am sure he will correct me if I am wrong) is that the difficulties that a male teacher might experience at "grass roots" level are quite different to what might be the norm in, say a vocational school or masterclass setting. The majority of posters here have children who are serious about their dance, whether they hope to make it their career or not, and I imagine that we would all be perfectly happy with teachers of any gender, provided they were good. But we are not really representative  of parents in the typical local dance school are we? I imagine that the majority of local teachers obtain most of their income from the large numbers of once or twice a week students rather than the relatively small number of "serious" students that a school may have at any given time. Whilst it's obviously not universal, I do think that given the choice, many, if not most, mothers would tend to favour a female teacher for their little girls starting ballet and would be suspicious of a man in that role. Personally I think that's illogical, but I have certainly observed this kind of attitude and I think it would make it harder for a man to establish himself as a grassroots ballet teacher than a woman of equal talent.


Absolutely with regard to  teachers in dance   ( and  men in  those roles seen as 'pink collar'   e.g. primary/ EYFS  teaching ,  Nursing  etc ... )

and while not about  male teachers ,   some of the concerns about gender variant  students  whether  adults or  YP  expressed by teachers  are not  in terms of their  issues (if any) with the individuals  but  the reaction of  the more vocal  of the 'once or twice a week'  parents   who are quick to (try to)  impose their narrow  world view of  'suitable'  gender roles and  behaviours / presentations  on others   and the impact this may have  on the reputation of the school /studio ...  

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13 hours ago, hfbrew said:

My ds has had absolutely no problem when teaching in "typical urban/sub urban"  situations and is very popular with parents and students alike. He also works in a school (not dance!) and is one of several male members of staff.

 

All teachers have to be mindful of how to handle students and yes, a male Ballet teacher does need to be careful about physical corrections especially if teaching solo with no pianist or assistance. When training teachers of either sex I have always advised against avoiding being alone with any young students. 

 


wait until the first   ill founded  complaint  and the 'no smoke  without fire '  gossip  ... 

remember the great  british public in mobs  is  known for  hounding  paediatricians from their homes ... 

another thing to  consider is the  structural  discrimination that has been encouraged by  the second wave   feminists in  social work and education policy ...   such as  differential supervision  supervision requirements  based on the gender of  the adults  ...  e.g.  requiring mixed  gender groups of  YP  be suprvised by a team that includes at least one female  (  but  not the converse )   despite the fact that   women  are just as capable of being abusers ...   
 

Edited by mph
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Having been in education for over 30 years (not just Ballet) I am well aware of the issues hence my advice to all teachers which I stated in my original post. Current safeguarding policies apply to all regardless of gender. Discussions about "second wave feminists" and "differential supervision" should be moved to not dance. And yes, we do know that all genders are capable of abuse, again a different topic.

 

The OP asked about the particular challenges that male Ballet teachers face.  

 

So let's get back to that question having covered the rather obvious issues over safeguarding.

 

I would agree with others that Pointe work could be challenging for a male teacher just as I, as a female teacher find virtuosity challenging! 

 

It's great that there is this initiative to encourage more male teachers. Certainly I have found it a great way to encourage brothers of my pupils when they have seen ds in action. 

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12 minutes ago, hfbrew said:

<snip>

It's great that there is this initiative to encourage more male teachers. Certainly I have found it a great way to encourage brothers of my pupils when they have seen ds in action. 


 which is the same approach as we have seen in STEM  with the use of females  in STEM jobs  as role models and 'poster girls'  for  females in STEM. 

the biggest boundary to  boys / men dancing  is  a small strip of  metal or two...   the threshold to the building and the threshold to the studio ... 

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2 hours ago, mph said:




another thing to  consider is the  structural  discrimination that has been encouraged by  the second wave   feminists in  social work and education policy ...   such as  differential supervision  supervision requirements  based on the gender of  the adults  ...  e.g.  requiring mixed  gender groups of  YP  be suprvised by a team that includes at least one female  (  but  not the converse )   despite the fact that   women  are just as capable of being abusers ...   
 

 

Can you point me towards examples of this policy as it is not something I am aware of. I am only aware of policies that state both males and females must have an appropriate gender teacher in for example PE in schools but no bias towards female teachers.

Edited by Picturesinthefirelight
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