"The Dance Belt Talk"

It may be an inevitable right of passage from childhood to adolescence when a young male dancer needs his first dance belt, but that doesn't make the "dance belt talk" any easier.  The last thing any boy wants to discuss with an adult is the changes that are going on in his newly pubescent body.  And for an adult who is not the dancer's parent, while the talk may be necessary, it has potential to be completely misunderstood.

As an instructor, I'd much rather discuss pliés, pirouettes, and épaulement than penis placement with an 11 year-old.  I'm sure the feeling is mutual.  But, as the resident male teacher, traditionally it has been my responsibility to host the talk.  

I wrote Doctor Dancebelt's Guide as one tool for the computer literate, Google searching younger generation to learn about the ins and outs of dance belts without the necessity for a dance teacher to give the talk.

For Dance studios: Be proactive even if your studio doesn't currently enroll any boys.  Not specifying what boys are to wear perpetrates the stereotype that boys don’t do ballet.  Dress codes need to address the issue directly by requiring dance belts. If the dress code clearly states that all boys are required to wear one starting at age 11, it sets a standard not related to an individual's sexual maturity, but rather introduces dance belts as just another piece of required equipment.  Wearing one becomes a "big boy" milestone that is expected and anticipated by the dancer.

If dance belts came with an instruction manual, "the talk" might be avoided entirely.  But the technique for wearing one isn't natural, instinctive, or something most fathers (and no mothers) are competent to advise their boy about.  Even at schools with lots of boy dancers, newbie dance belt wearers can't expect to get timely accurate guidance from their peers in the dressing room.  A link from the school dress code to Doctor Dancebelt's Guide will answer many of your young male dancers' questions.

For Teachers:  Because of the potential to be accused of anything up to and including sexual harassment, the talk should be carefully choreographed.  Involve the boy's parents.  Educate them on the necessity of wearing a dance belt and give guidance which one is best for their son.  Point them to this website, especially the Fitting Younger Boys page!

They may take it from there with no further involvement on your part, or they may decide a teacher is the best person to talk to their young dancer.

Approach it as a normal dance studio conversation.  But make sure a parent or other adult is in the room with you, even though the boy might be more comfortable talking about his genitals without his mother listening in.  Keep it short, point the boy to Dr. Dancebelt's Guide, and assure him that wearing a dance belt is just part of the act, something every male dancer has to deal with.  Good luck!

For Parents:  Generally, the older a boy is when he's told to wear a dance belt, the more resistance he will express.  So, if your boy is 8 or older when he starts ballet, it's easiest to get him started wearing a dance belt when you buy the rest of his dance gear.  If he's been taking class without a dance belt, approach it as a milestone to maturity.  Get him one for his 11th birthday, wrapped up just like he hopes his new car keys will be when he turns 16.  Direct him to the "how to wear one" page in Dr. Dancebelt's Guide.  Expect him to complain about wearing it at first, but let him know it's a necessary and required part of his ballet equipment, to be worn for every class.  Your odds of becoming a grandparent someday just went up.





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