Girls v boys? A ballet tale

Both my daughters do ballet – one attends classes, the other will do soon but just now is happy putting on a tutu and pretending to be her big sister. It’s such a “girl” thing to do, isn’t it? There certainly aren’t any boys in #1 daughter’s class and I’m the only regular “ballet dad”. That’s a shame really.

I grew up in a female household – my parents divorced when I was a baby and my gran was a regular carer for me so I had little or no male input in my formative years. But I still grew up doing “boy” things – Star Wars, football etc 

I wouldn’t change that – it was fun but I really wish I’d had access to the ballet classes that #1 daughter goes to now. But why? What has ballet got to do with “boys”? Everything really.

First of all, ballet is two art forms for the price of one – she is learning about dance and music formally and informally. I try and point out relevant music and other media to her all the time. It’s culturally massive and she soaks it all up. We are lucky having a free broadcaster who supports music and dance in the children’s schedule so in among the ponies and heroes we have free access to proms and nutcrackers. There is also a huge amount of free resource available online.

Secondly, she’s learning to be disciplined in a group environment. This is important- she is just like me in that she is easily distracted. This was never picked up as an issue as a child and I never had the chance to hone these skills. The chance is there in ballet – her class are a good team who help each other out while having a strong leader. It’s a massive challenge for my daughter but she is improving every week.

Finally (although not really finally, I just don’t have the scope here to expand further!) she is learning the importance of repetitive practice. I always struggled to internalise the importance of this but it is key to everything. Boring repetitive training builds muscle and mental memory so that you can get things done instinctively and via reflex rather than having to think everything through all the time. It’s a vital skill to learn in any field but it’s so visibly THERE in ballet she is having to get to grips with it early.

Via ballet my daughter is developing physically, mentally and culturally – what parent wouldn’t want that for their child irrespective of gender. I really enjoy attending the classes as an observer – they all enjoy it, you can see their skills developing and I learn new things myself. Ballet is for everyone.

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