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Tag Archives: Nina Amir/My Son Can Dance

By Nina Amir
March 31, 2016


This past November 2015, my son, Julian Amir Lacey, premiered in the lead role of the three-part ballet, Manon, produced by SemperOper Ballett in Dresden, Germany. This famous ballet was choreographed by Kenneth MacMillan, and the MacMillan Foundation chose Julian to perform the principle part in two of six performances.

Julian danced the role of Des Grieux, and partnered Sarah Hay, who played Manon. Hay recently starred in the Starz limited-series Flesh and Bone, was nominated for a Golden Globe and won a Satellite Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film.

Manon was Julian’s largest and hardest role to date. However, it was not just technically difficult but artistically and dramatically challenging as well. Many male dancers wait their whole career to perform this particular role, and he did it to rave reviews at the age of 21.

I asked Julian to share what dancing this role was like for him. I hope parents and aspiring young male dancers will find his experience useful.


  • How did you feel and what did you think or feel when the MacMillan Foundation selected you to dance the role of Des Grieux?
  • Why is the role of Des Grieux difficult—not just technically but emotionally and dramatically or artistically?
  • Did you struggle with self doubt at any point, and how did you overcome it?
  • What did it feel like to perform in your first three-part ballet?
  • Do you have any tips for boys who have to get through similar stressful situations when they find themselves in a difficult role?
  • What did you learn from the experience that you can use going forward—or that others can learn from as well?



Read Julian’s response here:


Copyright 2016 Nina Amir

Posts tagged  Nina Amir / My Son Can Dance


By Nina Amir
February 29, 2016


Young men who choose to dance have many opportunities and reasons to audition. They audition for summer intensives, for positions in companies, and for specific roles. When the time comes to audition for companies, hopefully, they’ve gotten some experience so they can put their best foot forward.

When Julian danced at Teen Dance Company (now the Conservatory for Contemporary Dance Arts in San Jose), he had the opportunity to learn to audition. The artistic director brought in many choreographers every year. Each time a new piece a choreographer created a piece, the dancers would audition for parts. This experience came in handy when he began auditioning for summer intensives and then for ballet companies.

Whether or not you—if you are a dancin’ boy—or your son—if you are a dancin’ boy’s parent–has ever auditioned before, there are some things you need to know about auditioning for dance companies.

To get a bit more perspective on the audition process, I asked Aaron S. Watkin, artistic director at SemperOper Ballett in Dresden, Germany and Nikolai Kabaniaev, director of the boys program at City Ballet School in San Francisco, CA, to comment on the subject. Julian currently dances at SemperOper Ballett and studied at City Ballet School from age 16 to 17.

Read more:



Audition Season

Cattle-Call vs. Private Auditions

Do Your Research

Audition Tips


© 2016 · Nina Amir

Note: Nina Amir is author of My Son can Dance. For years she has written about her son Julian’s experience as a boy dancer. Julian is now a professional dancer with the Semperoper Ballett.


Boys and Ballet posts tagged Nina Amir/Mysoncandance.  


By Nina Amir
January 1, 2016

Julian Amir LaceyLittle dancin’ boys want to do what big dancin’ boys do. They want to dance with the girls—to partner. But how much partnering should your young dancer do and at what age? Knowing the answer to this question can make the difference between a long career or one that never begins. – Nina Amir


    Topics:  Why Young Boys Shouldn’t Lift—But Should Partner

    Early Partnering Problems

    How to Avoid Partnering Problems

    Focus Your Son’s Attention on Partnering Essentials

    The Sign Your Son is Doing Too Much Too Soon


Read more:




By Nina Amir
My Son Can Dance

In every dancin’ boy’s life (and girl’s life) there comes a point when it’s time to say goodbye to the current studio. It’s never easy, but the change must be made if your son is going to progress.

How do you know if that time has arrived? Here are a few signs to watch for.

10 signs to watch for:


Ms. Amir concludes with an important point: Last, and I make this point separately to stress it, if the studio does not help your son dance like a man and treat him like a boy, not like one of the girls, take him out of class. Boys should not be dressed in pink tights and leotards. They should not be given girly costumes on competition teams (or forced to wear makeup if they hate it), and they should not be told to dance in the same way a girl dances. The female ballet, jazz and tap teachers should know how to help the boys dance like boys. If they don’t know how to do this, find a studio that has teachers that do, or find one with male teachers.  At a minimum, take your son out of those classes and find a private instructor who can do this for your dancin’ boy.

We agree whole heartily; read our post: Boys Rule

Read other posts tagged Nina Amir/Mysoncandance

By Nina Amir
My Son Can
June 22, 2014


I can’t recall how often I’ve been asked by a young male dancer how he could overcome the fear and awkwardness of showing up in class or on stage in tights and a dance belt, but it’s been more than just a few times. My response is pretty much always the same. So, I thought I would publish my last emailed answer to a dancin’ boy who said he didn’t mind wearing this apparel to private dance lessons but would not dare do so in group classes. More


Nina Amir
February 24, 2014

In December 2013, while [my son] Julian was still an apprentice, I interviewed him about his first four months or so in Germany and with SemperOper Ballet. I thought it would help other dancin’ boys make decisions about going abroad to dance if they could hear from Julian what his experience was like. I also thought Julian might have some advice to offer on how to succeed as an apprentice.

We’ve recently updated the post to make it current to his experience after a full year as an apprentice and from his perspective as a full company member now. Here are his answers.

Read the entire post:

Related Post by Nina Amir: 5 Questions to Ask Before Sending Your Dancin’ Boy to Europe

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By Nina Amir
January 29, 2014

I’ve gotten several questions in the past two years about the School of American Ballet’s summer program as well as about the year-round residential program. Parents and boys are wondering if the program is rigorous enough compared to others, like American Ballet Theater (ABT). They also want to know if the residential program is a good choice. Hopefully my response comes early enough for those of you still making summer intensive decision for 2014. If not, it will help many of you in forthcoming years.

Read about Julian’s experience at SAB:

© Copyright 2013 Nina Amir

Nina Amir is the auther of My Son Can Dance. We are big fans of her blog.


By Nina Amir
June 19 & June 27, 2013


My husband and I firmly believe that one of the things that makes Julian such a good dancer is the variety of dance training he received but, in particular, the years of contemporary dance training coupled with his classical ballet training. This also makes him a more marketable dancer. Of course, a dancer most have an innate ability “to move” as well. However, in addition to the variety of places he received classical ballet training, we credit Teen Dance Company with giving him a sound foundation in contemporary dance as well as an introduction to modern dance. That program has now been taken over by its artistic director, Mark Foehringer, and renamed as Conservatory for Contemporary Dance Arts (CCDA) and continues to provide the same great training to teen dancers in the San Francisco Bay area.

I had the chance recently to speak with Mark about many topics of interest to young male dancers and their parents. I thought that conversation would be worth sharing.


Mark Foehringer on Preparing a Dancin’ Boy for the Professional Dance World (Part 1)

Mark Foehringer on Preparing a Dancin’ Boy for the Professional Dance World (Part 2)


Mark Foehringer is an internationally active choreographer and dance educator who has directed his San Francisco based contemporary dance organization, Mark Foehringer Dance Project|SF(MFDP|SF), since 1996. Foehringer choreographed and taught throughout the US and abroad, working with organizations that include: Rambert School of Contemporary Dance in London, Ballet Nacional del Peru, Ballet San Marcos of Lima and Cisne Negro Dance Company of Brazil. Outside of Northern California and the San Francisco Bay Area, Foehringer’s company has been seen in Aruba 1997, NYC 1999, 2000, 2005 and 2012, Peru 2007,2008 and 2012 as part of the US Public Diplomacy Program.

In 2013, Foehringer launched Conservatory for Contemporary Dance Arts, a training and mentoring program for dancers ages 14-21. CCDA has as its primary focus the preparation of dancers for university dance programs or professional dance opportunities.



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