What I Won’t Tell You About My Ballet Dancing Son

When you ask him about sports, he’ll raise his blue eyes to mine and press his lips together. I’ll nod to assure him it’s safe, he’s okay, this isn’t the school lunch table where the kids can taunt.

“I dance,” he’ll say. “Ballet. This year I’m doing hip hop and tap and jazz, too, but ballet is my favorite.”

Try as you might, progressive thinker that you are, modern and open-minded for all the decades you carry, your eyebrows will move up a quarter of an inch.

Oh!” You’ll tilt your head and hopefully you’ll smile. For a heartbeat you’ll spin through a lexicon of words and phrases, seeking the correct positive acknowledgment.

And I’ll hold my breath as your eyes meet mine over his shaggy blonde head of hair, a wordless prayer as we wait for the moment of reaction. What does one say to a seven year old boy who is built for carrying a football but wears ballet shoes?

Boy Ballet

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9 Responses to What I Won’t Tell You About My Ballet Dancing Son

  1. Colleen May 30, 2017 at 10:44 pm #

    My son loves to dance and always has. He is 6’5″ and slender and very handsome. He took ballet in college and always thought it was the best place to meet girls. He is married now, and a business man, but he still puts on his ballet shoes and takes them for a whirl. If you love dance then dance!

  2. Stephanie February 3, 2015 at 9:27 am #

    I just came across this and had to tell you how much I love it. I am a mama of a little girl who is also trying desperately not to let the world tell her what she “should” like or be. Thank you for the reminder that we are their biggest advocates! Keep encouraging him to chase the dreams that God placed in his heart!!

  3. Chelsea May 26, 2014 at 10:59 pm #

    I just read this for the first time, and I’m in love. Truly and deeply touched. This story speaks volumes to me and to my sad spirit that has so died recently in the church. Everyone has a stigma, boys and girls alike. We could use more boys like your courageous little guy,and more mom’s and dad’s like you, loving and accepting in everything.

  4. Brad March 7, 2014 at 1:47 pm #

    I found your blog from discovering this story on A Deeper Story and I have to say, I’m disappointed I didn’t stumble upon this blog before now. I’m currently lost in your archives, but it’s this particular story that got my attention. I’m so proud of you for the way you’re proud of him. Not all boys grow up playing sports, but that doesn’t make them any less of a man in the end. Thanks for sharing!


  5. John February 19, 2014 at 9:51 pm #

    Dear Ashleigh
    I am presently working on an article dealing with why it is so hard for boys to take up ballet. Thank you for writing this blog. I would be very grateful if we could enter into a email correspondence about this. I really believe that the only way this toxic stigma can be overcome is to get more boys into ballet. But in order to do that is to deal with .the attitudes of adults. I trust you can see my email address.

    Yours sincerely

  6. MominTX September 30, 2013 at 9:04 pm #

    Love it! My son has been dancing since he was six and is still going strong at fourteen. Here is a link to a great ballet site with a forum for Parents of Boys. It is a great resource for all things ballet. I hope he sticks with it! We need as many boys in ballet as we can get.


  7. Lucy September 18, 2013 at 11:48 am #

    It seems so strange that people would even care to me. My daughter has always had boys in her dance classes. Right now, out of ten pupils, three are boys. I wish people would understand that this is 2013, that he is a little child, and that really, none of it matters anyway.

  8. Kiersti September 1, 2013 at 2:06 am #

    This is beautiful…reminds me of that line from Chariots of Fire, “When I run, I feel His pleasure.” My sister has commented on relating to that when she dances, and it sounds like your son does too! And as one from a dance and theater family, we always rejoice at hearing of any boys who discover the joy of song and dance. They are far too scarce! :) (I can’t help thinking more boys would like it if they just tried it–and weren’t steered away from it by cultural stereotypes.) Thanks for sharing, Ashleigh!

  9. Amber August 25, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

    This is beautiful. My son has been dancing since he went to see Sleeping Beauty for a field trip when he was 8. He came home more excited that I had ever seen him about anything and he wanted to learn how to jump, leap, turn, and move like the men he saw on that stage. Most people don’t understand why my son wants to do this. He is old enough now that he smirks and asks them if they’ve seen the girls he dances with, but that is just his way of not telling them that he would rather dance than anything. Mostly he pities the people who can’t understand, because he knows there is nothing in their life that fills their spirit the way that dancing fills his.
    Good luck to your little guy! May he find many good male influences who “get” why he is there, because they are who will make the difference when the rest of the world assumes he is being proactive in his plans for the NFL. :)

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