I went to a full-time school until I was 16, so I would like Freddy to follow my dance shoes. Well, it is in his blood.
I promised myself to give my children the best start with the earliest training. Then when he was four, I sent him to his first dance school. He has begun in the pre-primary ballet, in a class of six girls. If this class was correct corps de ballet, that would be terrible – you need male dancers for the whole thing to work. There is hardly one pas de deux with just that one.
Yet so many dance schools are up and down in the country where the girls surpass the boys. Freddy loves to be the only boy at the moment and enjoys the female attention of what he thinks is a kind of little tutu that follows.
Since his inception, his confidence and his attitude grows bigger every week. And the smile on his face when he leaves his class says there is no doubt that he is enjoying himself.
But my decision to start Freddy on the ballet has also been met with some surprise, even in 2018.
The stereotype seems to be that "the boys do not do ballet". We went to a family party and a relative around Freddy's age was open open when she heard Freddy made a ballet, just like her.
It's Dads who drops their daughters to Freddys class, who looks shocked to have a boy join the class. My own mother accused me of pushing him into it for myself.
Ignorance has surprised me especially at a time when gender norms are discussed, discussed and dismissed so much, and gender neutrality seems to benefit from so many.
It's up to the point where Freddy does "dance classes" instead of ballet to avoid the uncomfortable conversation.
I will not deny that taking Freddy to the ballet has been wonderfully nostalgic to me, and it was really so that seeing him in his first grade was my happiest parenting to date. But he is four, he does not know how to choose what he likes. He has not tried anything, there is no context for such decisions about what is his favorite. Therefore he also makes rugby tours and swimming lessons on other days.
But even though Freddy draws the tights as fast as you can say demi plié, ballet is incredible training for sports – for his feet and for his balance. Rio Ferdinand makes a ballet. Our Olympics make a barre as part of the team's training to improve footwork, balance and agility.
But for me, I use sports stars as a justification – something I like to do all the time – is a proof of how the sport is celebrated while art is being pushed aside for the girls.
At the moment, 96% of male dancers still report that they have felt negativity from friends, families or strangers as a result of their decision to train in dance. It's not just Billy Elliot, but stigma continues to exist if there are "many boys" in your daughter's ballet class or not.
For now, I just point out that someone is still looking for a strong, masculine example of ballet in the direction of Sergei Polunin and his dance to Hosier Take Me To Church. It is athletic, disciplined and beautiful. That's what you find me whipping out for anyone who needs to convince. FINAL.
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