Nothing compares to that magical moment when your teacher says you’re ready for your first pair of pointe shoes. You need a strong technical foundation before beginning pointe world. Ever wonder why getting promoted to pointe shoes take so long? Pointe work can be dangerous and detrimental to your feet if you start to early, so don’t get discouraged, this is not a decision that your teacher takes lightly.
Age and Training Schedule
Your teacher has to determine that you’re at the right stage of physical development. Long foot bones start developing and hardening between 8-14 years of age, and it’s crucial that you don’t start pointe work when your bones are still developing and are still too soft. Many teachers say that starting pointe before the age of 11 or 12 is very unsafe. By the age of 12 your bones are still growing and fusing. Age isn’t the only factor. In order to achieve the appropriate amount of strength needed to stand on your toes, you will need a few years of training under your belt and commitment to several ballet classes per week.
In some cases, teachers ask that students have two years or more of training before that can register for a special pointe preparation class. Students should have a strong foundation of classical ballet before pointe work is added to it.
Many studios offer pointe prep classes to help students build strength in their feet, ankles and legs. Usually, class combinations involve a lot of demi point work and releve, as well as resistance-band exercises. If for some reason your studio doesn’t offer preparations classes, feel free to ask your teacher for exercises that you can do at home to strengthen your legs, feet and ankles.
Dancers need great core strength to lift up and out of their pointe shoes. (Being able to balance on demi-pointe is a good indicator). Don’t forget the turnout muscles as well, if you are struggling to control your turnout on flat ballet shoes, it will be even harder to control when you are on pointe shoes.
Teachers look for proper alignment, which requires a certain amount of natural flexibility in the foot and ankle. Dancers with a limited range of motion in their ankles often struggle to rise into the shoe platform. Dancers with stiffer feet may need more preparation time to improve their range of motion.
Only when all of these factors are in place, and your teacher believes you are ready, will you be ready for the wonderful world of pointe. Continue to strengthen your body and exercise some patience as well. Your body will thank you.
Brought to you by: Angie Stone, Prima Dance Academy, Studio# 905.425.2828 www.primadanceacademy.ca