After we returned from our month in Minnesota, one of N.'s last events of the summer was a program we called "ballet camp" (its technical name is a "ballet intensive"). He spent 5 days dancing from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (with a short lunch break). He's taken four semesters of a once-a-week ballet class and he has enjoyed it a lot. I have no illusions that N. is going to become a professional dancer. But I thought this intensive would help him get more out of the weekly class he takes during the school year. Ballet has been his sport, his organized physical activity. I had been suggesting it since he was five because I love ballet and knew that the community ballet program at my university was supposed to be very good, with an emphasis on love of movement and solid technique, rather than shows and costumes as at some dance studios. I always thought it would be cool to be a boy in ballet, but for a long time N. was uninterested in trying it. Then when he was seven he became friends with a boy in our neighborhood who had been taking ballet class since age five, and N. decided he wanted to join him.
The classes N. takes have the great luxury of live piano accompaniment. Sometimes I think N. pays more attention to the pianist, who improvises all the pieces he plays, than he does to the ballet teacher. The musical aspect of dance is probably N.'s favorite part of the activity, and I think experiencing the relationship between music and movement is great for his musical development.
Anyway, the one-week intensive class developed in N. a much greater awareness of the details of ballet technique, and it fired his ambition to master those details in order to be able to partner with girls who are better dancers. It is amazing what intensive learning can do! Just as in our homeschool studies where we try to emphasize depth over breadth, this immersion in ballet opened up N.'s understanding of what he might accomplish in this art.