Battling the Ballet

My older son’s going through his ”I’m going to put on a dance show for you” phase.

I’m the asshole parent who immediately hounds him, “Okay, I’ll watch. BUT – I need to see a beginning, middle and end. We need a storyline, here, kiddo. Also? No more than three songs.”

Because Daddy’s got other stuff to do.

Oh, and performance standards.

No. I’m not exaggerating any of that. Way to take the fun out of everything, Dad. But these dance “recitals” are an unwatchable combination of a bad drag show and, well…I think I can stop there. Just bad drag.

Whenever we ask if he wants to take dance, he says, “Daddy, I’m already a great dancer.”

Yeah, no.

Until this year, we didn’t push it. No need to over-schedule in first grade.

But I heard about an excellent dance studio that gives free ballet lessons to boys. And because I’m a cheap SOB, I was all about that.

But then, approaching the audition time, I started to go down my normal cerebral rabbit hole of doubts and questions:

Wait! This could be a disaster! I’m forcing my kid to audition for something he doesn’t realize think he wants (yet) and he’s currently excited about potential ballet lessons, but he’s gonna get there and it’ll be all boys and then he’ll be like, “I don’t wantto dance with boys! I want to have a tutu and dance with the girls!”

And then I think, “ohmigod, what if we get this? Ballet is such a conformist culture that he will be forced to wear a white t-shirt and black sweat pants and then I’ll be forcing him to do something he doesn’t want to do because he doesn’t want to wear the clothing? And yet why does he need to conform in ballet? How archaic. This is ridiculous. Why can’t he wear a tutu? Of all the places, ballet should be super welcoming of gender fluidity. And yet, it’s not at all, is it?”

And then I think, “Shit, if we say, ‘yes, he’s a boy but he’s going to break your centuries-old tradition of the dress code” and what if they say, “Well, then if he’s a she you’re going to pay,”  and then I’ll be like, “Wait, what? Hell no!” and then I expose myself to be really just in it for the free lessons.”

But also? Why does it need to be so gendered? They recruit boys because what they need is the partner…a big kid who’ll be able to lift the smaller dancer.

And my kid will definitely be that one – the tall one. So regardless of whatever the hell he wears, he will still be the partner. So why the hell does it matter what he wears? Ugh. The ballet heritage of centuries could stand to change, for sure.

And YET…perhaps this is the time that my kid does notget to color outside the lines. Being able to conform, from time to time, and playing by someone else’s rules is a secret to life, as well. My kiddo’s lucky to express himself with unending unicorns and rainbows and creative movement every day of his life. Perhaps the rules, rigidity and tradition of classical ballet will be an enriching aspect of his already-wonderful life.


So he passed the auditions and got into the fancy ballet school. The audition consisted of lifting each leg to the side and then around to the front, then skipping across the studio.

And that was it.

And he got it. Like – the skipping andthe coveted spot in the dance studio.

This studio accepts fresh kids (boys) with zero experience because they can mold the tiny dancers.

Later, he declared that he didn’t want to take dance, anymore.

Eye roll.

My partner responded with the most classic of all reflexive parental arguments, “Do you realize how many kids would love to be in your shoes? You got into the this wonderful ballet school.”

“And I don’t even want it,” he said with impeccable comedic timing.

We have yet to discuss a dress code with him.

In retrospect, I think changing the ballet world is not a battle I feel like waging.

This is the time my kid shouldconform.

Wish me luck.



  1. We all need to learn which battles are worth waging, don’t we? Otherwise we become annoyingly oppositional ass-pains. I like your conclusion in this entry.


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