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Posts Tagged ‘boys’

Photo: Sean Scheidt
Boys in Baltimore are being given an unexpected opportunity and are giving back to the school that makes it possible.

Something unusual is happening in Baltimore. Boys offered free ballet are loving it.

Gabriella Souza reports at Baltimore Magazine, “The audience seated in folding chairs stares curiously at the dancers in front of them. Perhaps, the performers aren’t what these families and elderly couples think of when they hear the word ‘ballet.’ After all, there are no tutus or pink-ribboned shoes in sight. Instead, seven boys of varying heights, ages, and races stand before them on the carpeting, barefooted and wearing khakis and bold-colored T-shirts. …

“ ‘What are we in for?’ the audience seems to be wondering this day in April. When the boys begin to move, it all makes sense. Their motions are controlled, graceful, and musical, and their bodies appear weightless as they fly through the air or lift high up onto their toes. Their artistry combines strength, vivacity, and masculinity. …

“The dancers are part of the Estelle Dennis/Peabody Dance Training Program for Boys, which gives young men ages 9 to 18 tuition-free admission to Peabody Dance, the after-school dance training program that is part of the community school affiliated with the lauded Peabody Institute. …

“In 2009, as a way to attract boys to the program, advisers and instructors decided a scholarship program could encourage families who couldn’t afford training, or who otherwise might be hesitant. The small proportion of boys to girls in ballet has been noted nationally, and though statistics on the subject are hard to find, for years teachers have reported that they often only have a single boy in their classes, if any.

“ ‘There has always been this underlying thought from fathers — and mothers, too — that they didn’t raise their boys to be ballet dancers. It still exists to some degree, but much less,’ says Barbara Weisberger, who is Peabody Dance’s artistic adviser. ‘This program is helping to remove that stigma, because these boys are wonderful talents. They’re a joy to watch.’ …

“Barbara Weisberger still remembers the first auditions she oversaw for the Estelle Dennis program in May 2009. Walking into The Mount Royal School and Roland Park Elementary/Middle School that day, she drew her breath in amazement as she saw dozens of boys, 60 total, who were black and white and of all ages, waiting to show her what they could do.

“Though most of them were hip-hop dancers, it didn’t matter to Weisberger — their enthusiasm was contagious — and it didn’t seem to matter to the boys that she was showing them a completely different style of dance. They were just excited to move. ‘They enjoyed themselves so much. They were so musical, they were such fun.’ …

“ ‘There’s a different, masculine culture that they’ve brought,’ says [Melissa Stafford, Peabody Dance director and department chair], who became director and department chair in 2013. … ‘When you step out for a five-minute rehearsal break, you’ll come back to the boys doing three pirouettes and trying to outdo each other in a friendly, competitive way. That camaraderie they have with the other guys has changed the energy of the school.’ More here.

No question that ballet is demanding and athletic enough to satisfy many boys. Case in point: this football player’s comment, “Ballet is harder than anything else I do”!

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Recently, Kara Baskin wrote for the Boston Globe about a couple of young environmental philanthropists.

Arlington (Mass.) siblings Will Gladstone (age 12) and Matthew (age 9) “run the Blue Feet Foundation, which manufactures bright blue socks with bird logos to support the endangered blue-footed booby, a threatened species found in the Galapagos Islands.

“Proceeds benefit the Galapagos Conservancy, and the brothers have raised $18,000 since launching a few months ago.

“The idea began in science class at the Fessenden School in West Newton last year. …

“The brothers started a logo contest among pals. Dad Peter Gladstone helped the pair create a final design on logo site 99designs.com and located a manufacturer to to produce the cotton footwear. …

” ‘We put a thank you card in each package, write out the label, and talk about what this will go to. We ask for photos of them wearing the socks,’ Will says. …

“Will also plans to expand his business a bit, perhaps shifting to red socks for Valentine’s Day. (Yes, there is also a red-footed booby.) …

” ‘My brother says, “If we go out of business, I hope it’s because we save the birds.” ‘ ”

Read more at the Blue Feet Foundation, here. There’s a cute photo of three generations of one family wearing the blue socks in memory of their trip to the Galapagos Islands.

6/21/17. I have to add this this heavenly surreal animation I just saw, Mr Blue-Footed Booby: https://slipperyedge.com/2017/06/08/mr-blue-footed-booby/.

Photo: chutupandtakemykarma
The Galapagos bird the blue-footed booby is endangered

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The article by Astrid Zweynert and Ros Russell begins, “Boys campaigning for girls’ education is not common in most parts of the world, but in India’s Rajasthan state, they are at the heart of a drive to get more girls into schools.

Educate Girls trains young people to go into villages to find girls who are not in the classroom in a country where more than 3 million girls are out of school.

“Some 60 percent of Educate Girls’ 4,500 volunteers are boys, founder and executive director Safeena Husain told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

” ‘Having these boys as champions for the girls is absolutely at the core of what we’re trying to achieve,’ Husain said in an interview as she was awarded the $1.25 million Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, the largest prize of its kind. …

“In Rajasthan, 40 percent of girls leave school before reaching fifth grade, often because their parents do not see education as necessary for their daughter because she is going to get married or stay at home to do housework, Husain said. …

“Educate Girls’ approach to is to define hotspots where many girls are out of school, often in remote rural or tribal areas, and then deploy its volunteers to bring them back into the classroom, said Husain.”

There’s plenty of research showing that when girls are educated, the standard of living in a country goes up. Educated girls “are less likely to get married at an early age or to die in childbirth, they are likely to have healthier children and more likely to find work and earn more money.”

More at the Christian Science Monitor, here.

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Do you ever read Kevin Lewis’s Sunday Globe column, “Uncommon Knowledge”? He covers new research in the social sciences. Thanks to him, I learned about this study on helping minority boys get engaged in education.

“A disproportionate number of students struggling academically are minorities, ” he writes. “Can we do better?

“In what they claim is the first credible study of the effect of an ethnically grounded education, researchers at Stanford analyzed the effect of a ninth-grade course offered in several San Francisco public schools covering ‘themes of social justice, discrimination, stereotypes, and social movements from US history spanning the late 18th century until the 1970s’ and requiring students ‘to design and implement service-learning projects based on their study of their local community.’…

“The researchers found that taking the course ‘increased attendance by 21 percentage points, GPA by 1.4 grade points, and credits earned by 23 credits (or roughly four courses).’ They call the results ‘surprisingly large effects,’ which were concentrated among boys.”

The paper, by Thomas S. Dee, and Emily Penner, is The Causal Effects of Cultural Relevance: Evidence from an Ethnic Studies Curriculum.” It was posted at the National Bureau of Economic Research in January.

More here.

Photo: Stanford University
Teacher David Ko instructs an ethnic studies class at Washington High School in San Francisco. A Stanford study found students benefit from such courses. Here, Ko is explaining an assignment about the role of advertising in reinforcing cultural stereotypes.

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Photo: Diana Martin, Chatham Daily News
Benjamin Alexander studies at Canada’s National Ballet School

I loved the movie Billy Elliott, about an English boy who is drawn to the fun and beauty of ballet after his mother’s death casts a deep pall over the family. His macho dad and brother, coal miners toughing out a bitter strike during the austere Thatcher years, are appalled and even hostile. But it’s hardly a spoiler to say that art wins the day.

Recently I read an article about contemporary Billy Elliots and was intrigued. They all seemed very matter-of-fact about their interest.

Isabel Teotonio in the Toronto Star writes, “This year, Canada’s National Ballet School (NBS) has the highest percentage of boys in its entry-level Grade 6 class in its history: 65 per cent. …

“The phenomenon isn’t confined to NBS. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, dance was the 10th most popular ‘sport’ for boys aged 5 to 14 in 2012, with participation rates rising in recent years.

“And in the United Kingdom, an August survey of 1,000 children aged 2 to 12, done by retailer Mothercare and charity Save the Children, found more boys (8 per cent) than girls (5 per cent) wanted to become a dancer. In order of preference, the top jobs for boys were doctor, soccer player, dancer and teacher. For girls: doctor, teacher, soccer player and dancer.” More.

As I was poking around the web for more, I found this WordPress blog listing programs for boys. The blogger led me in turn to a nice story by Ellwood Shreve in the Chatham Daily News, here, about an enthusiastic NBS student, above.

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