Teaching Tips

Starting an All-Boys Ballet Class? Follow These 3 Tips

Miss Shona's all-boys ballet class. Photo courtesy of Roebuck

Attracting boys to dance class always seems to be a hot topic among teachers and studio owners. And for good reason—from gender stereotypes to simple disinterest, there are many factors that can make parents hesitant to enroll their boys into a dance program.

Shona Roebuck, owner of Miss Shona's Performing Arts Center in Maplewood, New Jersey, decided to offer a boys' class this summer (based on a parent's suggestion), in hopes that it would be successful.

"I had an amazing mom whose son had been taking ballet class. Her older son was taking a ballet class at a different studio, and he was getting picked on. Naturally, she didn't want that experience to happen again, so she asked me if I'd consider offering an all-boys ballet class," says Roebuck.

Roebuck, know as "Miss Shona" to her students, added the class as a part of the 5-week summer session for four- to six-year-old boys. The class generated a lot of interest fast, from good ole word-of-mouth marketing.

Photo courtesy of Roebuck

The trial proved to be successful and she's adding the class to her fall schedule. Since she primarily teaches and trains girls, teaching an all-boys class was exciting, but there were challenges she had to navigate. If you're considering offering an all-boys class, here are three suggestions to consider.

Photo courtesy of Roebuck

Make It Fun

Roebuck has found that dance class, in general, is a different experience for boys. "It requires a different classroom management because boys learn differently than girls," she says. The boys responded best to having a good time. Enjoy the silly quirkiness that young boys bring to the classroom and have many different exercises prepared to keep their attention from wandering.

Show a Photo or Video For Inspiration

Starting the class with a visual gives the boys something to relate to. Many boys don't even know male dancers exist. Roebuck found that showing a picture or YouTube video of a male dancer and reminding them throughout class, (i.e. "Let's dance like Justin," or "Remember how high Justin jumped in the video") kept the boys more interested.

Embrace the Differences

In addition to the all-boys class, one of her students was enrolled in a coed class. "In the all-boys class he was being silly and more carefree," she says. "In the girls' class he would try the same behavior, but the girls wouldn't care." The boys' tendency to be more rambunctious sans girls, combined with their rapidly growing and changing attention spans at this age, proved to be an obstacle. She suggests making the class more physical.

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