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Thread: Ballet: Why is it frequent for little girls but not little boys?

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    Junior Member melaniehiscock's Avatar
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    Default Ballet: Why is it frequent for little girls but not little boys?

    This is something that I'd like to hear peoples' thoughts on.

    Why do parents react to seeing their toddler or little girls' dancing for fun/to the radio by quickly enrolling them in ballet etc., but don't have this reaction when it comes to their sons?

    Pretty sexist as Patrick Swayze once famously pointed out.

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    Well idk about my sisters when they were little, but I like dance around to Kraanerg and Petrushka.

    My perspective is that it is a view inherited from 19th century ideals on what was "proper" for women. Quite in a similar vein was when orchestras first began allowing female members in orchestras they could only play instruments like the flute or the harp (more "feminine" whatever that's meant to mean) and most certainly not a brass or percussion instrument!

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    Junior Member melaniehiscock's Avatar
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    You're right, unfortunately ballet for children has become firmly associated with females, frills and pink glitter in the eyes of too many parents.

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    Also: ADVERTISEMENTS AND MARKETING are key factors in today's context.

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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    It is not just dance, but 'the fine arts' in general, and that includes for many, acting as well.

    "Not a profession for a real man," ergo, "nothing you would want your boy involved with."

    This is pretty much throughout the working and middle classes of western cultures, maybe with some lesser strength to the 'taboo' in Europe. It can vary in the wealthier upper classes -- either some pride that son or daughter chooses to go into the arts, or the same horror they are in for a career making less, probably, than their grandparents made, and some shame reflecting that all the upbringing in and around wealth did not inculcate the scion with any respect or ambition for achieving or maintaining the family wealth.

    Other real parental concerns have nothing to do with Johnny growing up to be a sissy, but instead, Johnny choosing to pursue a career with far less obvious or secure paths to regular employment at a decent pay rate.

    "Girls grow up to be women, and women get married." Another old saw and rationale. Your daughter the ballet dancer will snag a wealthy husband, who, if for no other reason, will see your lovely dancing daughter as a sort of trophy wife. (Ergo, she can choose an underpaid and dicey career, her eventual husband will take care of her:-)

    Too, many otherwise loving, great and caring parents have limited notions, set scenarios, of "what is success." Whenever their children choose to pursue anything outside of one of those limited conceptual formats, the parents despair. Too, some are just concerned for John and Jane's future financial security (maybe with the fear that John or Jane will be, well past their young adulthood, still living off of Mom and Dad <g>)

    Apologies, it is all ruthlessly sexist and as ruthlessly with an eye to the money -- but I am just reporting the facts.
    Last edited by PetrB; Apr-11-2014 at 08:49.

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    Do you know the british movie "I will dance" ? There you have got all the prejudices towards boys who like to dance. they are considered homosexual.

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    Sr. Moderator Taggart's Avatar
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    Trouble is, we've stopped doing "proper" dancing. Louis XIV was known for his balletic skills. An ability to cut a caper was not a sign of culinary skill, rather of good dancing. Even ballroom dancing has minimal step work and no real "figures". As for disco dancing .....

    As footwork diminished, so ballet became the preserve of the professionals and step work retreated into country dance (with figures) and folk display dancing - Irish step, clog, hornpipe, Highland dancing.

    It used to be the case that every PE teacher in Scotland was a qualified Scottish dancing teacher and could teach basic footwork and positions and apply them to the figures. So in Scotland, there was no need for simple ballet because country dancing covered the initial positions. Even there, however, you would find that most of the Highland dancers were women much as many gymnasts are female simply because the style favours elegance over strength.
    Music begins where words leave off. Music expresses the inexpressible.

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    It is a matter of culture, partially. I believe in Russia it's considered manly to be a (male) ballet dancer. Of course, it is an incredibly athletic thing to do!

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    Senior Member senza sordino's Avatar
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    In a good strong northern accent
    "no son of mine is gonna grow to be a fairy cake dancer!"

    I loved the movie Billy Elliot.

    I think it's sad that there aren't more boys dancing. Moreover, tell me a better place to meet girls?!

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    Senior Member mirepoix's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Taggart View Post
    <snip>

    It used to be the case that every PE teacher in Scotland was a qualified Scottish dancing teacher and could teach basic footwork and positions and apply them to the figures. So in Scotland, there was no need for simple ballet because country dancing covered the initial positions. Even there, however, you would find that most of the Highland dancers were women much as many gymnasts are female simply because the style favours elegance over strength.
    I remember those days well; every winter PE/phys ED classes given over to Scottish dancing. Two lines, one of boys and the other of girls, step forward and choose a partner. The stigma attached was so great that more than once I recall all of us boys preferring to receive the belt (tawse) than be seen to willingly participate.

    Yes, in places such as Russia the attitude is different. I worked and lived there for a number of years and witnessed the pride (and encouragement) shown by parents in the dancing, gymnastic or skating activities of their sons.

    And as an aside, most of the shirts or t-shirts I wear are pink. When that's coupled with my love of ballet it raises eyebrows here in the UK. But when knowledge of my amateur career as a welterweight is discovered (or a close look at my crumpled old face is taken) it often confuses tiny, narrow, frightened minds.

    e: and when I'm seen with my current companion."She's with him?!"
    Last edited by mirepoix; Apr-11-2014 at 17:09.
    Current status: not Photoshopping an arched back while blindfolded.

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    Junior Member melaniehiscock's Avatar
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    There's a similar problem with fairies in popular culture - they've become indelibly associated with girls and femininity and daintiness... quite different from their more gender neutral (and often malicious) origins.

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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by melaniehiscock View Post
    There's a similar problem with fairies in popular culture - they've become indelibly associated with girls and femininity and daintiness... quite different from their more gender neutral (and often malicious) origins.
    Steve Szilagyi's novel, Photographing Fairies, made into a wonderful film
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119893/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photographing_Fairies
    would quickly disabuse the contemporary mild and friendly version of these creatures :-)

    The import of the film is grim, dark, lugubrious and romantic, i.e. more truly in the Romantic Era sensibility than any contemporary notion of 'romantic.'

    Some of the current gloss on fairies is similar to different tones and trends in what was once called Spiritism, i.e. communicating with the dead via seances and a medium. In the late 1800's when it was a fresh craze, the dead were not happily in the ever beyond, but our dear departed were instead grieving and depressed things, filled with bitterness and gloomy admonitions for their survivors.

    Now, for those who dabble / practice / believe in all that, what our dear departed have to say is all forgiveness, sweetness and light. Both attitudes are but a fashion. Currently, all sweetness and light is the fashion, part of the superficial and highly saccharine (commercialized) take on sentiment.

    P.s. you are perpetuating a stereotype -- the tiara in the Avatar photo :-)
    Last edited by PetrB; Apr-12-2014 at 01:06.

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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    because its feminine.
    yes, there is masculine and feminine, even tho modern culture is trying to bury that.
    Vive la difference!!!!!
    When all else fails, listen to Thick as a Brick.

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    Junior Member melaniehiscock's Avatar
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    that's me in my avatar. sorry.

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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by melaniehiscock View Post
    You're right, unfortunately ballet for children has become firmly associated with females, frills and pink glitter in the eyes of too many parents.
    Quietly (because it ain't manly, ya know) many a pro football team are put through some rigors of ballet training. The flexibility it requires, as well as pinpoint lightning fast precision of movement, are a great boon to their capability to perform well.
    https://www.google.com/search?q=Football+team+takes+ballet+classes&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-USfficial&client=firefox-a&channel=sb

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