My Son Went to a Dance Intensive and All He Got Was This Lousy Ego.

 Dance intensives: Do they give your male dancer big skills or big heads?


When I was a competitive gymnast, I used to go to gymnastics camps.  Think ballet intensives but upside down and with more broken bones.  They were the most fun for the natural talents with no fear but nerve racking for the gymnasts that had their neurons interacting correctly at age 13 (hand raised).  Wait a minute.  You want me to swing around this barlet go of the barflip and then catch the bar again?  I asked as the Russian instructor who, in a strong accent, told me to do a release move called a Jaeger. I thought he was out of his mind.



I did the skill.  I swung around that bar, spotted the bar before letting go, flipped once, lost site of the bar then fell flat on my stomach.  Oh, and I fell into a foam pit so the gasp is not necessary.  This is one of the half dozen skills I had no business experimenting with but did them anyway because intimidating coaches from outside the USA said I was a wimp if I didnt.  Ill do anything for a Russian coach to stop saying Weeemp at me.  As much as I was terrified to do these skills at the camp, I didnt hesitate to brag to my family and then to my home gym coaches about all the new skills I could do.  Oh really? Show me.  Ugh.  I wasnt the only one bragging, so all of us would take turns either backing out of the challenge or falling on our heads.  Im not sure how much has changed since I was attending these camps in the 90s but I venture to say, not much.  The camps were a problem for the gymnastics schools.  We all had heightened egos when we got back and a few bad habits to boot.  The coaches hated it.  They already lost a week of training us and then it took 2 more for them to pull us back to earth.  I imagine there might be some similarities with dance intensives, especially with the boys.  At gymnastics camps there are probably 60 boys attending each one and we are separated the entire time from the girls.  What about dance intensives?  The ones that have enough boys I know designate some classes for just the male dancers but they mix up the girls and the boys well.  Are they favored?  Are they asked to do things they are not ready for?  Do they come back with a false sense of self and show-off at the studio?  Are they all of a sudden bored with their usual training and choreography?


  • Gabrielle

    Au contraire, when it comes to ego.
    My son attends 2 intensives per year. One is just for boys, and attracts the best from all over the country. At that intensive he is taught skills beyond what is covered at his regular studio, but he is also very much reminded that there are boys as good as, and better than him.
    The other intensive is run by his regular studio (as per RAD requirements). He is taught the RAD syllabus as is ever student, no matter what their gender. No ego issues yet – although this may change as he ages and moves into partnered work in the future.

  • Bonnie

    I find it funny that there are usually only a handful of boys at the workshops and intensives, but most of the instructors are male. I guess thers hope our boys have a good chance of really making a career out of this. Thats all my 13 yr old wants out of life :) Thank you for your sight. and blog

  • chel

    I am still amazed by the number of girls who are a ticked that there are boys at their studio or there intensive. My son is 11. In character class he was partnered with a young lady who insisted on running to the hand sanitizer station every time she had to hold hands with my son. I stopped counting by the 8th visit during a one hour session of parent observation day. The staff was wonderful, but the disrespect the students showed each other stunned me.

  • Katrina Helm

    My son is now almost 15, we go to a convention or intensive once a year in the fall (usually in Orlando) none of the ones he has attended have had enough boys to have a dedicated class but when they separate into groups to go across the floor the girls are split into 2 groups & the boys have their own. Often my son get called to demonstrate or go on stage, this really helped him to come out of his shell but I don’t think it gave him a huge ego (thankfully). So yes, the guys are favored, but I believe it’s in an effort to encourage them. I’ve never seen him exposed to anything that he wasn’t ready for, but I think that’s why the classes are separated by age. Finally, yes, sometimes he seems bored with the classes and choreography when he returns, but thankfully his teachers use that oppertunity to step it up too.

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