5 Tips For Male Ballet Dancers
Male ballet dancers are strong, dependable, and make great partners in class. In a female-dominated art form, it’s a breath of fresh air to have male students in class. Being a male dancer also presents its own set of challenges and rewards. Young men and boys can benefit from following these five tips for success.
1. Don’t be shy.
Male dancers have faced an unfair stigma for decades. Males are always encouraged to take ballet, even if it means they are in a classroom full of female students. It doesn’t matter! Female students welcome the addition. If you are a parent, and you don’t like the idea of putting your child in ballet, think of it this way: they are getting exercise, learning discipline, and building confidence. Who doesn’t want that for their child? If your son is tagging along to ballet class with his sister, let him watch. And if he expresses interest in joining class, let him! If you are a young male dancer and your peers tease you, don’t allow their judgmental attitudes to affect your determination.
2. Talk to your teacher.
It can be difficult for youths to open up to their teachers. Again, don’t be shy! If you have a technique question, ask your teacher if they can demonstrate the move. Your teacher wants to help you succeed. If you have questions or concerns, approach your teacher after class to ask for their advice. They will be happy to offer you direction.
3. Stay physically fit.
Ballet is not easy. Male dancers are trained to jump, leap, spin, and lift female peers. You will need to focus on three major areas: stamina, strength, and flexibility. Vary your fitness routine with weight training and cardio. Go for a jog, or hit the treadmill. Stretch everyday, and don’t miss class unless it’s because you’re sick. Also, eat a healthy, balanced diet; one that includes protein, complex carbohydrates, and fresh fruits and vegetables. Avoid sodas and sports drinks that are loaded with sugar. Instead, take a bottled water to class and mix with a packet of Emergen-C to help replenish your electrolytes.
4. Apply for scholarships.
Male dancers are a rare breed, so companies and schools are ready to throw money at you! They are desperate for male talent, so they welcome the interest. Decide which companies you would want to dance for, and apply to train there. Depending on who it is, you may receive a scholarship for a summer intensive, partial aid, or a full ride. It doesn’t guarantee that you will earn a spot in the company, but at least you wouldn’t have wasted money trying. Summer intensives, or workshops, are a great way to improve your technique and expand your horizons. Research your local dance schools, studios, and colleges for their summer schedule. If your goal is to pursue a professional career, consider attending an intensive at a major ballet company i.e. Boston Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet. Every major ballet company offers summer intensives, and these can be a stepping stone to larger transitions; they may invite you to stay for their year-round program. These programs also teach you independence and social skills. Students who travel every year to attend these programs often make friends in many places.
5. Build your resumé.
Look for opportunities to train and perform. For the first, consider training with multiple instructors. Sometimes schools and studios will host guest teachers, usually accomplished professionals, to teach master classes. Take advantage of these to beef up your resumé. Second, volunteer in community dance productions and events. This is a great way to network and build your experience.
Male dancers are always welcome in ballet class. If you’re thinking about trying a class, don’t be shy! Just wear a solid-colored t-shirt, athletic shorts, and black technique shoes, and you’re good to go. See you in class!
image credit: Mait Juriado
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