Am I Ready for Pointe Work?

Am I Ready for Pointe?

Every budding ballerina longs to hear those six simple words, “You are ready for pointe shoes.”

Pointe shoes have a “je ne sais quoi” about them, a symbol of persistence, diligence, passion, and determination.

Eager dancers don’t mind the fact that pointe work is often painful and at times extremely frustrating. The lure of the pointe shoe is irresistible.

How can I tell when I am ready?

There are numerous factors that go into determining when a student is ready for pointe work; there isn’t one formula that works for everyone. Pointe readiness is as individual as a fingerprint. Here are some general guidelines that experienced teachers look for:

·         Age- at least 12 years old

·         How many years the student has been taking ballet

·         How many ballet classes the student is taking per week

·         Posture

·         Strength and flexibility of the feet

·         Previous injuries

·         Maturity of the student

·         How attentive the student is in class

·         Ability of the student to take and apply corrections in a timely manner

Safety First!

Allegra Dance Greenwich requires that most dancers are at least twelve years old before being considered for pointe shoes – this is all due to bone ossification. Bone ossi…what? In lay man’s terms, the bones in the foot aren’t 100% hardened until about age 13 (depending on the person, of course). Pointe work may commence for short periods of time, about 10-15 minutes at the barre only, when the bones are 75% hardened, which is usually about age 12. (Please note that everyone develops at their own rate, so some students may be ready before age 12 and others much later). We look at each student individually.

At Allegra, after a student is considered ready to commence pointe work, they begin a pre-pointe class which focuses on resistance band and foot strengthening exercises which get the foot ready for pointe work.(Please see the Pre-Pointe Blog for more in depth information).

Level III

Generally speaking students should be in Level III before they are considered for pointe work. Please note that being in Level III does not automatically guarantee that a student is ready for pointe work. Level III usually means that the student has had between three to five years of ballet.

Posture and Strength of Feet

Posture encompasses a great deal of key elements. Here are a few of the requirements:

·         Maintains turnout from the hips while dancing at the barre, in center and across the floor.

·         Holds core at the barre and in the center floor.

·         Demonstrates awareness of proper foot alignment – not sickling or rolling over the arches.  

·         Pointes the foot while dancing.

·         Uses plié while dancing.

·         Is able to perform releves on demi pointe without tiring and while maintaining proper foot alignment.

·         Can balance on one foot maintaining the turnout, correct foot alignment

·         Stretching the knee from plié releve, pique, springing or stepping onto demi pointe on two feet and one foot.

·         Previous injuries have healed and/ or being managed by student and health care professional.

Maturity of the Student

Work ethic and attitude play an enormous role in pointe readiness. Students must be dedicated and focused during class – this includes wearing the appropriate attire to each class, coming prepared, working on and applying corrections, warming up before class, and displaying appropriate classroom behavior. Students are required to maintain a minimum of two ballet classes per week.

A few “pointes”…

·         Pointe work is not the “end result” of a specific number of years in ballet, a strong desire to dance en pointe, or even being a certain age

·         It is not a right, and it is not for everyone

·         Pointe work is a challenge that students must be physically and emotionally ready to tackle

·         Pointe work builds upon the foundation of ballet technique; if a student is deficient in a particular core area, this will be amplified by pointe work.

·         Pointe work can be extremely rewarding

My teacher tells me I am not ready, what should I do?

You should trust your teacher. Understand that your individual situation has been taken into account and a path specific to your needs will be carved out. If you are unclear about why you were not promoted to pointe or pre-pointe, speak one on one with your teacher. Take what they say into consideration and work to meet your individual goals.

Promotion to pre-pointe and pointe is a serious step, and should not be treated lightly by students, parents or teachers. Going en pointe before you are truly prepared and physically ready can not only be extremely frustrating, but can cause lifelong injury. Be wary of teachers or schools who say “yes” to everyone and who put students en pointe simply because it is “their turn.”

My teacher tells me I am ready for pointe, what next?

Congratulations! Your hard work has paid off? Now, what can you expect? Click here to read more on pre-pointe.