#boysdancetoo - Part 2 Breaking down some old school thought patterns to build up some new ones...
Pictured here: My Son (3.5 years old); Ballet School: Center for Creative Arts (“COCA”); Class: Pre-Primary A
Old School Thought No. 1: Ballet is Easy.
New Thought: Ballet is actually quite challenging For Everyone.
Any boy or man who has taken a ballet class will be happy to tell you, as so many of my male students have said: that class kicked my a**. I have to smile and shrug a bit when they tell me this with a note of surprise in their voice. I tell my students All the Time: Ballet only looks Pretty. It’s actually an incredibly difficult total-body workout. Ballet is a combination of anaerobic and aerobic activity, depending on how intense your class is and/ or what is being covered in class.
For example, tonight, I gave a long barre and stopped to demonstrate and give corrections. For the dancers, this meant intense bursts of energy expended, then lots of downtime. Anaerobic. You know what else is considered anaerobic activity? Running sprints, heavy weight training and jumping. So, there's that.
But we also covered a variation tonight, and because the clock was short on time, I pushed the dancers to a) learn it fast and b) repeat it over and over to commit it to memory. For about 25 minutes, they did not stop. Pure cardio. Just teaching alone tonight from 4:30pm-8:30pm, I managed to wrack up 177 minutes of cardio according to my Fitbit! Can you imagine what the dancers must be sporting??? Ballet is NOT easy. It's a sport AND an art combined. And it's a daily challenge.
Old School Thought No. 2: Ballet is Girlie. Ballet is just for Girls.
New Thought: Ballet is actually for EVERYONE.
Okay, listen. There's historic precedence for this "ballet is for girls" thought. For a long, long time, ballet WAS just for and about the girls in the long (and later, short!) white tutus. If men appeared at all, it was as a stabilizing force for the girl in the tutu. But this changed along the way - in Europe first - then finally in America, when the likes of Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov hit the scene. Suddenly, there were men out there who shined just as brightly as the ladies and the thinking began to change about how we see the male danseur's function within a ballet. And with that change of thought, there was a small perception shift on boys starting ballet in their grade school years.
But it wasn't a big enough shift. Stigma, stereotypes and gender identification all came into play to keep boys from truly entering the studio, especially as little guys. And it's still happening to this day. Which is CRAZY, considering some of the most well-known male athletes have utilized ballet as a tool in their bag to beat the competition.
For example, Jean Claude Van Damme took ballet to bring strength, flexibility and mobility to his training routine as a martial artist. He has said that ballet "is an art, but it's also one of the most difficult sports." (Wikipedia).
Arnold Schwarznegger, arguably one of the best bodybuilders in the world, used ballet classes to further his chances in body-building, by increasing his flexibility and increasing his ability to remember choreography. (Dubai dance.com)
More recently, Steve McLendon of the New York Jets, who uses ballet to up his game on the football field has said of his ballet classes: "It's harder than anything else I do." (Pittsburgh Post Gazette) McLendon thinks ballet is tough...and he's a FOOTBALL PLAYER! If that's not a case that ballet is for everyone, I'm not sure what is!
Old School Thought No. 3: All boys who dance ballet are gay and/or ballet is for sissies.
New School of Thought: All boys who dance ballet are human beings with whatever sexuality they were born with and/or See Thought No. 2 above for starters.
I have so many responses to this one, I’m not sure where to even begin. I want to say: You’re problem with ballet has nothing to do with ballet in and of itself, then, right? You actually have some deep-rooted fear, anger and privilege-related issues with the concept that there are multiple ways in which to experience individual sexuality AND that issue and fear of yours has zilch to do with Ballet...you got that, right? And I want to say: Because listen, buddy, if your son (or daughter) winds up expressing himself (or herself) as anything along the LGBTQ spectrum, I can promise you that THAT was gonna happen with or without ballet. I want to say: Training in Ballet can only “make” you one thing...and that one thing is...(drumroll please)...a dancer. I want to say: And if while becoming a dancer your child picks up discipline, multi-tasking, ability to take correction, and loyalty, as well as athleticism, strength and teamwork, you’re gonna sit there and tell me those are bad things? Things you wish your kid wasn’t involved with? Try me again, bud. Try me again. Because THAT’S What ballet does give you.
And P.S.-Being gay IS NOT a disease that you can catch, osmosis-style at barre, you twisted corrosive small minded Nube. 🤬
And that‘s Just the Tip of the Iceberg on how I want to answer this one. #SassySouthernBalletMama has A LOT to say in response to these kinds of malignant one-liners.
And now I’m all riled up, so we will have to continue this tomorrow, Friends...Lord, give me patience...my Southern is all fired up...