Lake Shore Dance

Your Local Dance Studio for Children - Serving Ozaukee, Washington, and Surrounding Counties 


Preparing for Pointe Dancing

Posted on April 27, 2018 at 3:15 PM

Written by Brittany Miller:

Close your eyes and think back to the first time you watch the ballet. Tall beautiful ballerinas gracefully lifted over men’s heads and lightly placed on to the very tips of their toes as they magically seem to float away on stage. Pointe shoes are every young ballerina’s dream, but what does it take to get there and how much training does your dancer need to have?

First, knowing the history and mechanics of a pointe shoe are crucial in understanding the importance of your dancer being ready. Pointe is an extension of ballet in which the ballerina wears a specially designed and fitted shoe that allows them to dance on the very tips of their toes. It makes an already elegant and graceful style of movement more ethereal and delicate by adding lightness and length to the ballerina. In 1832 Marie Taglinoi is credited as being the first ballerina to dance en pointe. Pointe shoes have come a long way since her first pair of shoes which were nothing more than satin slippers darned to help hold their shape. The shoe offered no support so dancers had to rely on their feet and ankle strength for support. Now pointe shoes are made out of new lighter materials that keep the dancer safer and prolong the life of the shoe but the physical readiness has not changed.

What age is considered appropriate for pre-pointe?

Dancers ages 11 and older are when your child’s ballet teacher may start to begin talking about pointe shoes with them. This is a great go to age as most dancer will have danced for a few year previously allowing them to have the necessary repetition, vocabulary skills, and technique needed to make pointe an extension of their ballet class. In addition to maturity and experience, your dancer must also be physically ready. Your child’s dance teacher will ask for them to get okay by a physician or physical therapist before they can participate. This is to make sure the dancer’s foot is more than 75% grown and will be capable of handling their entire body weight on their toes.

Why does my dancer have to take pre-pointe? Can’t they go right into it?

Pointe shoes are very uncomfortable the first few times a dancer puts them on. Pre-pointe shoes are a great way for dancers to get use to the feeling of a pointe shoe without risk of injury due to low ankle or foot strength. In pre-pointe your dancer will learn vocabulary skills, exercises to strengthen the foot and ankle, how to physically work the foot in the shoes, and take a test to make sure the dancer is fully ready for pointe.

Why does my dancer need to take a test to tell if they are ready for pointe?

Taking the pre-pointe test tell your dancer’s teacher everything they need to know about your dancer. If your dancer studied we can see that your dancer has a great maturity level and can be trusted en pointe. There is also a physical portion of the exam where the dance teacher can see if the dancer can physically handle the incredibly hard work it takes to be en pointe. If your dancer does not pass the physical portion or exam this does not mean your dancer can never go en pointe, it means your dance teacher cares enough to make sure your dancer doesn’t get injured and will do everything to make sure they are safe.

Should my dancer take pointe?

First talk with your dancer and their instructor to see if they are willing and ready. Next as a parent make sure you are ready for the financial responsibility of shoes. Pointe shoes cost $60- over $100 per pair and a dancer can wear them out every month or once a year. You will also need to get your dancer new shoes if they grow. The correct shoe fit can make all the difference in the world to a dancer.

Excellence Through Repetition

Posted on April 9, 2018 at 3:40 PM

By: Brittany Bearer

“It’s like riding a bicycle!” We’ve all heard the phrase, but what does it really mean and how does it relate to your dancer? Riding a bicycle is just another phrase for the term, muscle memory, describing a once difficult skill that has now become second nature. The muscles’ themselves have no literal memory, so the term muscle memory is a misnomer, and should really be called the subconscious memory. The subconscious memory stores information in the brain that is readily accessible by the non-conscious mind, and that turns into the involuntary muscle movement we all know such as walking or going up and down steps and the key to it is repetition.

Repetition is important whether your study for a test, driving a car, or twirling across the room. Repeating the same movements consistently every week allows your young aspiring dancer’s mind and body to master and repeat the same quality of movement. The more consistent the repetition the faster they can learn and apply corrections.

Repetition is also important as your dancers learns more choreography in preparation for performance.  When your dancer rehearses multiple times a week, this allows the dancer to master the choreography and frees the mind to work on other important aspects of their dancing such as stage entrances and exits, emotional performance quality, props, and dancing in large groups.

As your dancer gets older you may ask why it is necessary for my child to continue training so multiple days a week? It is important to understand that your dancer is still growing and learning new, more complicated steps and patternings everyday and expecting them to pick up the movement without repetition can set a student up for failure. Old habits from our everyday lives or learning the newest, most popular dance move they saw online, can disrupt our technique and training, so it takes a lot of repetition to change and why you hear your child’s dance teacher say, “again” so many times!

Take advice for pro-tennis star Billie Jean King when she said, “champions keep playing till they get it right!”