Back-to-school can be a nerve-racking time for male dance students—especially as they approach middle or high school—and for their parents. Fears of bullying, isolation and low self-esteem are valid worry points, and, as parents, we want to do our best to help our kids feel supported and loved—especially in uncertain times. For a first-person account from a boy whose mom did a lot of the right stuff, we spoke with Alex Clayton, a professional modern dancer who grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, and is now a third-year member of Paul Taylor Dance Company:
Jenny Ouellette is a former dancer, current dance mom and writer based in Charleston, South Carolina.
Q: My family is moving to a new area in a different state, and we won't know anyone there. How can I find a good studio for my serious dancer?
Sprained ankles, sore feet, pulled muscles. Dance injuries are, unfortunately, going to happen. While some minor bumps and bruises can be resolved at home with rest, ice, compression and elevation, other more serious aches or pains may warrant a trip to a doctor. But can your primary care doc help or do you need a sports medicine physician?
Q: In this period of economic uncertainty, my family is looking at our budget from every angle. Summer enrollment at the dance studio is now—but no one is sure when we'll actually be able to head into the studio. I want to support small businesses like our dance studio, but I also can't help but wonder: Are virtual classes worth it?
Q: My teen says she wants to quit dance, but I'm not so sure she should. She's very talented, and I think she's just tired. Plus, we've paid for the semester and recital. Help!
Watching through the studio windows—or even from the sidelines in a Mommy and Me class—can surely make parents wonder what exactly our little tykes are getting out of weekly ballet lessons. After all, they're repeating the same things class after class. Are they bored? Are they progressing? Why are they doing that again?
Q: My tween is begging me to go to a faraway summer intensive, claiming "all my friends are going." How do I know if she's ready?
A: It can feel like a rite of passage for serious dancers to attend an intensive at a major ballet school. They dance all day and often explore the area's surroundings or attend performances on weekends. But living away from home, having a roommate and living the "dorm life" can be a challenge.