When we hear the word ballet, most of us think of girls in pink tutus and women dancing on their toes. Let’s put a stop to that misconception now, and highlight one of the most important parts of classical ballet as an art – the male dancer. What would a pas de deux (partner dance, or ‘step of two’) be without the role of the male dancer? And have you seen the solos of Dorian Plasse and Mingyang Xie? They demonstrate absolute artistry, strength and passion by male dancers (scroll down to watch them).
Benefits of ballet – for boys!
So let’s break it down. Since ballet is for boys, too, what benefits can boys reap from attending ballet classes as they grow up? Here are a few examples.
Crossover activities: Ballet increases strength, flexibility and endurance. This can be helpful with other activities and sports, as well as being a great way to prevent injury.
Unleash the artist inside: Ballet, like other dance forms, allows students to express sides of themselves that they might not otherwise be able to show. For some, it might be an artistic streak they are just waiting to awaken, and for others, it may be a boost in confidence that they need. Dance is a great wait to channel emotions – something which boys are traditionally not taught to do.
Instilling values and skills for life: Ballet is renowned for its discipline, but it will also instil a good work ethic, resilience, perseverance, commitment, team work, creativity and self motivation in boys.
To hear from two male dancers of the vocational Swedish Royal Ballet School on how ballet training affects them, watch the clip below.
My Son Dances – What Next?
So, if your son does ballet, how could he use the skills he gains through dance in his future?
There are many possibilities for potential careers for boys in ballet, both within the arts and outside. The first, and most obvious (but not easiest one), is to become a professional dancer in ballet or another dance genre. This will take dedication, time and perseverance. Take a look at this video of the Canadian National Ballet School’s students and boys classes to get another glimpse into the vocational ballet world.
What about boys dancing in India?
Many former male TLFCB students have successful careers in the arts, for example:
- TLFCB alumni Rahul Pradeep (5 years with TLFCB) attended full time vocational school Ballet West in Scotland (link), as well as the Royal Scottish Conservatoire to further his studies. He currently performs in London, UK.
- Anand Dhanakoti (10 years with TLFCB) attended the Contemporary Dance School Hamburg (link) for three years, and is now performing and teaching around Europe. He remains based in Hamburg, but plans to return to India to start a dance school of his own.
What if we’re not thinking of a career in professional dance?
Careers that include dance are not limited to a life of performing. There are many other options, such as choreography, musical composition, arts administration, stage technician, dance teacher, and dance therapist, to name a few. More on these different areas of dance in coming blogs!
Where can we go to see some amazing male dancers to inspire our son?
It’s not difficult to find talented dancers, especially in our world of almost unlimited internet access. Below is a starting point to begin your search for inspiration.
The Prix de Lausanne competition is an annual ballet competition held in Lausanne, France. Winners of the competition are awarded with scholarships and places at prestigious ballet schools and often continue into well-known ballet companies. The competition always features amazing male ballet dancers. There are many other competitions like this – some based in Asia, many in America and Europe. Watch two of this year’s Prix de Lausanne winners and be inspired:
- One of the iconic, trailblazing male ballet dancers of our time – a legend
- Started his professional ballet career at the Kirov Ballet in 1967 (present Maryiinsky) in Leningrad (present St Petersburg)
- Danced with American Ballet Theatre and New York City Ballet and became Artistic Director of the American Ballet Theatre
- Winner of the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Turning Point in 1977
- Launched the Baryshnikov Centre of Arts in 2005
- From Havana, Cuba, and studied at the Cuban National Ballet School
- Danced with many companies including the English National Ballet, National Ballet of Cuba, Houston Ballet and American Ballet Theatre
- Member of the Royal Ballet in London from 1998 to 2015
- Currently Director of the Birmingham Royal Ballet, UK
- Prix de Lausanne Gold winner in 1990, among many other awards
- From Russia where he studied for 6 years at Perm State Choreographic College
- Won a scholarship at Prix de Lausanne in 2006 and went to study at the Royal Ballet School
- Danced with the English National Ballet as First Artist, First Soloist and Principal dancer
- Joined the Royal Ballet 2014, where he still dances
- Is a Permanent Guest Artist in the National Ballet of Japan, and had made guest appearances with Paris Opera Ballet, Mariinsky Ballet and American Ballet Theatre