A Boy’s Dream, by Deon Hattingh

Ballet Is Not For Boys

I can remember back when I was a little boy, I saw this beautiful print of the Dying Swan painting in my aunt’s living room. I was mesmerized. It was then that I fell in love with ballet.

I started walking on my toes everywhere I went. When asked why I would reply:” I am practising for the ballet.”

In the hall of the primary school is where ballet lessons were given. After school, I would stand still at the doorway and would yearn to take part in it.

But my parents wouldn’t let me do ballet because I was a boy and “only f****ts do ballet”.

My wildest dreams

I then started teaching myself ballet. I would watch movies and download photos from the internet and copy what I saw. No doubt I did it incorrectly, but my desire to dance was great.

It was only at age 15 when the local ballet teacher came to pick up her children at the high school. Desperately I walked up to her and begged her if I could come for only one class. Just so I can get an inkling of what it would feel like.

My wildest dreams were realized. After the class, she said that she saw potential and said I could come for lessons without cost.

I had to work in my aunt’s music shop to buy my first pair of tights

The following year I started lessons. But I needed tights and shoes. My father pointed his finger in my face and yelled:” I won’t take out a cent for your ballet.” Which crushed my spirit.

I had to work in my aunt’s music shop to buy my first pair of tights. But what about shoes? I begged and begged my father to purchase them for my birthday. Since he was going to spend money on me in any case. Why not buy me shoes? He reluctantly agreed. 

I had never felt so happy. I dreamt of becoming a professional. Not realizing the reality because even though my precious ballet teacher gave me all she had, it was not enough. I needed to be in a professional school.

But I will never forget her gift. She gave me the foundation that now as an adult I am building upon.

I try not to resent my parents

I try not to resent my parents and perhaps forgive them. But some days I find it so hard to do.

Because even though I never became professional. I still wish I was at least good. Perhaps if I started younger. My parents knew my biggest heart’s desire from a very young age. But they didn’t even try to satiate it.

Money was always a problem in our house. But there was money for things my parents loved, like recorder lessons. My parents were always supportive of my love of music. Ballet lessons would have cost the same as the recorder lessons. I don’t even play the recorder anymore, but I still dance ballet. And I still desire to be great at it.

But even if there was no money. Why didn’t they take me to an audition? Perhaps I could have gotten a scholarship? It is difficult not to think about what could have been. I truly believe that I could’ve been great if I had the right support and opportunities.

Somedays, when I am at the Russian School of Ballet, I feel so alive and happy. Other times I feel so frustrated because no matter how hard I try, I just can’t get some movements right.

Lucky kids with supportive parents

A lot of the time I feel sad and guttered because seeing how some of the parents are so dedicated towards their children’s passion for ballet. Waiting for hours for them to be done with class/rehearsal. Driving so far for them just so they can pursue their love for ballet. Sometimes it is hard to watch. I must hold back my tears with an effort.

I remember one time I had a dance competition on a Saturday morning. I politely asked my mom to take me to the competition, which was held at a local church. She yelled at me:” You are so selfish; you didn’t think your mom wanted to sleep late for once!” She dropped me off and furiously drove away so much so that the tires spun.

She didn’t even come to watch. And once more, I was all alone, watching other parents be there for their children. Making sure their children’s costumes are correct. Doing their hair. Doing their makeup.

I tried to hide away in the corner of the church hall. Hoping no one would notice my sadness. Strangers and acquaintances had to cheer me on. I tried to enjoy that day so much.

But I felt abandoned and sad. The only time I felt happy that day was when I was dancing ballet.

To quote a beautiful song: “…I was happy, I was pretty, at the ballet…”

Start your dance journey with us