Parenting and home schooling

Boys don’t wear tutus

I’m pretty sure that every time we mention that our kids are doing ballet, we’re making some heads spin. Ballet has been around for many centuries, but until now, people still have a misconception that this dance form is exclusive only to girls and that boys who take on ballet must all be gays.

But that is so not true! Ballet is a form of theatre that portrays life, and in life, there are different people from different walks, personalities, cultures and beliefs. There are male dancers because each one of them can characteristically play these roles in a story. There is room in ballet for everyone!
male-ballet

I’m pretty proud of my kids that they go unfazed by the shocked expressions on people’s faces and I witnessed this too. One time, a 12-year old kid from Pablo’s Hip Hop class couldn’t hide his disbelief when he learned that the boys dance ballet.

“But that’s for girls!!!!” He said. Then he started looking around and motioning to other kids to share his shock. My kids were smiling the whole time he was doing this and just waited for the kid to get over it.  (I’ve got cool kids!)

They tried to educate him on it and I have to tell you, the boy was starting to understand before we parted ways that day, but the next day, he was singing the same song, this time, with additional lyrics…”my mom says it’s only for girls!”

Sad, isn’t it? I’ll just leave it at that.

 

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A post shared by Pablo Palacpac (@pablopalacpac)

Curious about ballet for boys or ballet in general?

I know that some people are curious about what it’s like for boys in ballet. Are the dynamics the same as with the girls? And so forth. So I decided to answer a few questions on it…..

How did your boys start dancing ballet? Did they express their intention to learn it?

No, my boys had very little knowledge of ballet until they were introduced to it. Their appreciation and love for ballet grew over time.

My boys were interested in performing in professional musicals and dance is a part of that. Pablo has been attending hip hop classes but I thought there’d be more to pick up if he also trains in ballet. So I told him about it and thought I might as well let his younger brothers join him too.

That’s the thing about dance. If you look hard enough, you’ll be able to distinguish between the good dancers from the trained ones. Training brings out the best in every dancer and ballet is dance’s strongest foundation. It addresses form, lines, and technique that no other dance will, and it can supplement any form of dancing. – Boys in Ballet, April 2018

Judah quit a year later, but Lukas continued on.

Pablo, on the other hand, was originally in it for theatre purposes, but he loves it now and sees himself doing both in his future. Besides, the study of movement comes in handy for his animations.

Are ballet classes expensive?

It’s not cheap. The class rates are affordable, but there are costumes to pay for and cab fares and all that, especially during recital season, so that may be a bit heavy on the pocket depending on your financial status.

But it has its perks depending on what ballet school you go to. Before the lockdown, the boys used to get free tickets for ballet shows at the CCP. And most ballet schools hold auditions for scholarships, so that can be an option for you.

Are they strict in ballet?

Not really. But I can sense that they now pay a bit more attention to Pablo in classes because he’s getting older (he’s turning 16), so I think they’re concerned that he establishes the proper foundations and develop into a great dancer before his limbs become less flexible because of age. Time is of essence when it comes to ballet.

Discipline, though, is very important and it is taught to the students. Can you imagine if one of the dancers is late for opening night? Or when another comes to rehearsals drunk or hasn’t slept all night?

Do they need to starve themselves to maintain a certain weight?

Haha, you should see my boys eat! On our end, the boys are blessed with naturally skinny built so maintaining weight and size has not really crossed our minds at this point.

But as a family, we are more health-conscious nowadays so I warn the boys to adapt healthy eating habits that will benefit them even when they’re no longer as active as they are now.

I read somewhere that dancers need to maintain the right weight for their height and built. Not too slim, not too heavy…just the healthy size, which is a reasonable expectation, in my opinion.

 

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A post shared by Pablo Palacpac (@pablopalacpac)

Do boys wear tutus and use pointe shoes?

No. Tutus and pointe shoes are for girls. Although there are a couple of instances when we’ve seen some men wear tutus and use pointes as part of the roles in the shows, such as the men who played the “ugly stepsisters” in Philippine Ballet Theatre’s Cinderella and one with the role of an “actor” who had to don on a wig and a dress to pretend to be a woman in a play in Ballet Philippines’ Midsummer Night’s Dream.

I would think that if Billy Elliott is made into a ballet show, Billy’s best friend, Michale Caffrey, may wear a tutu sometime in the show.

So the point is, the dancers wear the costumes their roles call for, but in general, men don’t wear tutus nor use pointe shoes.

 

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A post shared by Pablo Palacpac (@pablopalacpac)

Do boys have to learn the same steps as girls?

Most of it, yes. But men need to be strong enough to lift women and execute more powerful leaps and jumps. It’s a really athletic discipline.

Ideally, male students attend classes with fellow male students and with a male teacher. They only have classes with girls when they’re learning pas de deux. They already have that in Russia, US and Canada – from what we’ve gathered, but we don’t have that here yet, so the boys have to attend classes with girls. They just have to take advantage of classes where they have male teachers. Maybe one day, one of my children can put up a school or a foundation for Filipino male ballet dancers.

Do your boys get teased a lot for dancing ballet?

To be honest, no, not really. The boys are blessed to have been surrounded by artists and people who are open to diverse interests all their lives.

Sadly, we have met some boys who were not able to handle the pressure from their classmates and peers and quit. Teasing is quite common in traditional school environments and neighbourhoods.

Virtual ballet training

This year is my kids’ 4th year in ballet. Because of the pandemic, all the classes are done via Zoom. Unlike other workshops, ballet isn’t something they can just rest out and wait until the virus season blows over. While dancers are encouraged to take breaks to give their bodies time to rest and recover from all the rigorous training and dancing,  stopping too long can take toll on their techniques. Of course, they can get back at it again any time, but it will take a bit of hard work to regain what’s been lost.

The boys are now training with CCP Dance Workshop since the pandemic struck. All summer, they’ve been training almost everyday except Sundays and Mondays, with Pablo taking both Classical and Modern Ballet classes. Pablo moved up to Level 3 this summer, while Lukas is in Level 1. They’re currently preparing for their Summer Virtual Showcase on July 4.

We’re not sure yet what’s going to happen after that. We’re assuming that they will be resuming their regular school year after the showcase.

If you are interested to enrol your children in ballet at the CCP Dance Workshop, you can click this link to sign up: https://forms.gle/c9d83Kr66toUEkNS8 or call the registrar at (0945) 807 1016.