How to Get Boys into Ballet
Here are some thoughts and ideas about how to get your boy into ballet in the first place. Before I start let me stress, I am no expert so these are just thoughts I have gathered over the years from my own experience of dance schools. If you have a daughter, then it is probable that ballet will be high up on your list of things they should, at least, try; and it is possible many of the Mums of those daughters remember being taken to ballet class themselves when they were young. However, it is very different for boys and the social stigmas I have spoken about before, always seem to rear their heads. I expect, if you are a Dad reading this, then ballet will be a long way down a list of activities you think your boy should be trying out. I have a theatrical background, and my wife danced professionally dancing, so it was more than likely my son might be introduced to ballet at some point, but, for most boys they will end up at football, rugby, boxing, karate, tennis, swimming or some other perceived ‘boy’ activity. Ballet is probably a long way down their list. But why not let them try it? Ballet is great exercise. It is also good for strength, discipline, concentration, co-ordination, focus, flexibility, mental attitude, and it can be great fun too, being with other children and forming strong relationships.
Of course, to get them involved you have to find a dance school. In our case my wife and I, at different times, were both taught by a wonderful lady Dance teacher, and, at the time of my wife deciding our daughter should attend her first ballet class, she was just starting a Baby Ballet class at her school. Therefore, it was probably fate or, at least, good fortune, that we ended up taking our daughter to that particular Baby Ballet class. You may not be so fortunate in your local area, although, if Mums, or Dads, have danced previously in the same area you may find your old dance school is a really good place to start.
If you are starting completely from scratch, then go online and search for ‘local dance schools’; there are usually quite a few because you don’t really need any major qualifications to open up a dance school. Ask Mums at the school gate, or via social media, if they know of anywhere; you will no doubt find a few that have children who do ballet. If you find a possible school, then check out social media and find the school on Facebook; most will have a page; or Instagram, or any other platform and see if you can find reviews of the school. There will normally be photos and/or videos of classes, past shows, ex-students etc. Once you have found a potential school, the next thing is to contact them and discuss whether they are taking new pupils at present. In our experience most will be extremely accommodating for boys as there are not as many of them. Don’t be afraid to ask questions apart from the obvious ones like the timetable for the potential lessons and the cost. Find out more about the Principal and/or the actual Ballet teacher; some schools get an ex-student or an older pupil of the school to do the younger one’s ballet, so it is a good idea to know who will be actually teaching your child. Find out the background of the school; things like if the Principal/Teachers have worked professionally although, be very aware, not all ex-professional dancers make good teachers and, conversely, not all those who have never worked professionally make bad teachers. Ask if it is possible to have a trial lesson to see if your boy will like it or not. At your first lesson you may need to be prepared for lots of things, especially if you have never been to a dance school before. As a parent if you are bringing a boy for the first time, you may encounter some Dance Mums who look at you as an intruder to their girl domain. Similarly, your boy may find the girls act strangely around a boy in their ballet class. My advice is to rise above it all and ignore any preconceptions about boys and ballet; the other Mums will soon accept you and your son if he keeps it up, and you need to encourage your son at every step, if you pardon the pun, and, if they enjoy it then do all you can to keep them doing it. I am going to do a whole video soon about dealing with this sort of thing, as Logan was exposed to lots of peer prejudice at his mainstream school and it can be tough for boys to deal with at a young age.
Whichever school you choose, not every school will fit all children, one child may enjoy the way a teacher teaches and others may not, so don’t be afraid to try other schools, if you feel unhappy. Of course, other factors, like proximity to the school, whether the timetable fits with other activities your son doe, and maybe the cost of the lessons, could also determine your choices but, whatever you do, give it a go for at least a month and see what happens. You might be surprised at the result.