Pointe work is an extension of the skills and techniques learned in classical ballet. Without proper technique, an attempt at dancing en pointe can cause injury. Children with growing feet should not dance en pointe unless under the strict supervision of an instructor, nor should anyone lacking adequate strength and training. Other considerations for pointe work are a stage of maturity, body structure, and age. The introduction to pointe work must be gradual. Dancers should train for several years in soft slippers before they wear pointe shoes.
Pointe instructors at TDCC are very focused on our dancers and their safety. The proper training and care of our students take priority over a dancer’s desire for pointe shoes. All dancers with the technique, strength, discipline and work ethic will be promoted to beginning pointe at the time that is right for them individually. Those students will begin with Preparatory Pointe for one year and then will be evaluated for Pointe class. Students must take two ballet technique classes per week in order to gain/maintain the necessary strength to facilitate pointe technique.
Intermediate ballet dancers are invited to begin pointe training after an evaluation of foot anatomy, ankle strength, and technique from the Pointe Program Director, Tia. If a dancer thinks she may be ready to begin pointe, please contact TDC to schedule a private pointe evaluation. For safety and strength, a dancer enrolled in any pointe class (preparatory-advanced) must be concurrently enrolled in two ballet classes. Pointe classes will complement and further classical training while enforcing technique learned on demi-pointe. Advanced pointe dancers will have the opportunity to participate in monthly master class partnering seminars. It is also suggested pointe dancers commit to further weekly conditioning. TDC offers a conditioning class designed for intermediate and advanced dancers titled “Body Power: Int./Advanced Dance Conditioning and Flexibility.”
How to get on Pointe
How do you know when you’re ready for pointe shoes?
Dancing on pointe, or on “toe”, requires tremendous strength of the legs and feet. TDC has strict requirements for starting pointe work so the dancer is physically protected from injury. The following are requirements that must be met before considering a pointe promotion:
-TDC instructors take into consideration the age of the dancer as well as the dancer’s ability. However, because the growth of the foot is nearly complete at age 11 or 12, we tend to promote and introduce pointe work at that time. Dancers under the age of 11 will be asked to consult their primary care physician or orthopedic surgeon prior to admission to the class. For the safety of the child, it is very important they do not attempt to dance on pointe shoes if an instructor advises you to wait, as it is easy to become injured.
-You cannot begin ballet training in pointe shoes. In order to be able to dance on pointe, a dancer must have had time to achieve the form, strength, and alignment needed to make a successful transition into pointe work. Proper technique is required to be able to properly rise on the toes without risks of injury.
-In order to maintain proper technique and flexibility needed for pointe work, it is imperative to practice ballet formally at least 2 times per week. The pointe portion of the class should follow the regular ballet class, ensuring the feet and ankles are thoroughly warmed up.
-All dancers will be formally evaluated by the team of ballet instructors at TDC to determine if they are physically ready to meet the demands of pointe work. We are looking for correct body position and alignment, sufficient turnout, strength and balance, ankle strength, ankle flexibility, and mastery of basic ballet techniques.
-Pointe work is hard work. Beginning pointe classes will be more demanding on your body, especially your feet. You must also care for them properly to keep them in good condition. Furthermore, are you ready to devote at least three hours per week to ballet classes? Choosing to dance on pointe is a decision that should be taken seriously. How do I prepare and ready myself for pointe?
-Focus on the application of corrections from your TDC instructors. Be sure you have a clear understanding of “where and how” the body should be placed at the barre and in center.
-Work through the feet. Practice in and out of class releve’ and eleve’ to strengthen the ankle with the weight of the body-centered over the second toe. Be sure the ankles are not rolling back to the little toe, known as “sickling”.
-Purchase a Theraband through Zearly’s and have your teacher explain the appropriate strengthening as well as stretching exercises. They should be done at least 4 times a week (a daily routine is recommended). Please also follow the video: