Wait – Is this for Me or Them?

(Disclaimer: this is a long overdue follow-up to my ballet missive from a few weeks ago…reading that first will make a helluva lot more sense.)

And then I think, “Wait. I don’t even want my kid to be a ballerina/o. I’m just a cheap SOB who wants free lessons at the most prestigious ballet schools in the country!”

(Also, it’s fun to take lessons in the same building as Julliard.)

But still – ballet teaches total conformity. No one may stand out, you’re a member of a corps-de-ballet and complete anonymity is the name of the game.

I have even experienced that in certain Broadway shows – when you’re part of an ensemble, there might occasionally be time for showing acting expression. But in big dance numbers, wrists need to be uniformly flexed, arms inconspicuously stretched, and jumps need to be measurably consistent.

The ensemble often is not a place to stand out – and certainly not in ballet.

In my tiger dad moments, I obsess over wanting my children to be leaders, take risks, defend themselves and forge their own paths. Meanwhile, ballet demands rigidity and tradition in which everyone does exactly the same thing. Hell, it seems to be ballet dancers don’t even get to smile.

Sure, there are those that stand out from the pack and become the principal dancers. But what percentage of dancers become those types? And even then, principals or ensemble are trained never to talk back to their leaders and wordlessly agree to extend themselves to employ the director’s vision, no matter how uncomfortable or taxing the choreography and no matter how abusive the language coming from the leader.

So I’ve been conflicted about the ballet journey from the get-go. I know my oldest loves to dance. But her kind of dance is bouncing and twirling and kicking high like a showgirl and “ticking” (I know – I had to look it up, too) or vogueing as in my (now closed) show, Head Over Heels. It’s not exactly doing pliés for forty-five minutes or repeating 1st, 2nd and 3rd positions for another twenty.

And thusfar in her experience with bougie ballet, my oldest complains about her feet hurting.

Are her shoes too tight? Or is she bored with an hour’s worth of the very basics?

Thusfar, my preoccupation that she won’t like the uniform has yet to bear fruit. She has to wear black pants and white shirts with the other boys because, well…biological birth.

Surprisingly, that hasn’t bothered her too much.

But still…I’m not sure this is about me or about her.

But I don’t even WANT to encourage my kid pursuing ballet as a career goal. I’ve seen too much heartbreak on that end.

So why are we even doing this fancy-pants ballet? Image. And economy. I mean, come on, free ballet lessons at Lincoln Center? Who wouldn’t grand jetée at that?

Still…trying to figure it out…

One comment

  1. I hear ya. And I don’t think it will really help if I say ‘Try not to think about it too much…’

    But as an ex-ballet-dancing little girl myself, now almost 53, I still LOVE to dance, and definitely do NOT follow rules- just make sure you dance crazy with the kids in the living room- keep it FUN!


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