This is my son. He’s 3.5, almost 4.
He’s as rough and tumble as they come. He loves jumping, climbing, crashing, running, yelling, hitting, pouncing, pounding and basically being as 3.5-almost-4 as he can be.
We weren’t sure what would happen when we put him in his first ballet class. Would he like it? Would he be the only boy? If he was the only boy, would he mind, or even notice, that? Would he be able to calm down enough to actually take class and not drive his teacher to distraction?
We had so many questions and small little anxieties going into that first class.
But, the most miraculous thing happened.
For the 45 minutes our son was in the studio, he transformed before our eyes. He was attentive, engaged, excited, participatory, enthusiastic, and well-behaved. And for each consecutive class for the remainder of summer, he has remained so. It’s like he’s a different kid when he’s in the studio.
And this is the power of ballet and dance, my friends. Even at this young age, there is a certain discipline that can be found in the structure, uniform and repetitiveness of class. Those ballet boundaries become a safe place and students engage in ways they just do not at home or in the classroom. It’s a remarkable transformation. I’ve seen it as a teacher, but to know and observe it as a parent is a different-level of appreciation.
And it’s important to have those places in our lives where we access different parts of ourselves than what is accessed in the everyday. As an early childhood educator, I’d add that it’s equally important that at this age, since we learn through play at this point in our brain development, having a safe space to move creatively and play to music is literally imperative. We want smart kids, right? Let ‘em play then! And early childhood ballet classes are incredible spaces for this.
But, like in my son’s ballet class, it seems that only the girls’ parents got this message. He is THE ONLY boy in class! Where are all the little guys? How do we begin to attract more boys into ballet and dance? Especially here in the US? How do we begin to not just normalize ballet for boys, but prove that it’s an asset to any kids life-boy or girl?
We talk about it. Loudly. And we keep talking about it.
So that‘s what this week will be about: let’s talk boys and ballet! Check out my Facebook page for accompanying articles, but we’re really going to deep dive here too!
So then...to be continued!