When I was four years old, my mother took me to a ballet class and I really enjoyed it. I stuck with it for years but as I got older, I began getting teased by the kids on the street and at school. By the age of eleven I decided to give it up, in spite of the fact I'd just reached grade 4 and was really proud of myself. I gave it up for several reasons; it's not cool, I’d found new hobbies and beyond grade 4 it gets really hard and really intense. I don't go to ballet any more but I still get teased for it occasionally and still get called 'Billy' by a handful of kids. This often leads to the tiresome 'why did he call you Billy' conversation. Even some of the girls think it's a bit weird when they learn that I used to do ballet, and all have to ask if I wore a tutu. “Nooo.” I groan. “Boys wear shorts and a T-shirt, like Billy Elliot did.”
My mother understood my reasons for wanting to quit, but told me that I shouldn't worry about what other people say. It wasn't just because I was being teased that I decided to quit my twice weekly ballet classes. It was taking up too much of my time and I felt like I was just growing out of it. Plus, taking it beyond Grade 4 is something only prospective professionals tend to do... and my waning interest no longer justified the time, effort or expense of continuing. I'd also found new interests that I enjoyed more, such as playing cricket, making model kids, going karting and playing video games.
One afternoon at school, Miss York, my English teacher asked if I'd stay behind after class. Initially I thought that I must be in trouble for something, so waited nervously whilst the other kids filtered out. Miss York is also the school's Head of Drama. She tells me that she's looking for cast members for the big play that's performed at the end of the academic year, and asks if I do ballet. “No.” I reply. “Not any more.” I added, informing her that I gave it up a year-and-a-half ago.