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.