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Pointe - Beginners
How Long Until Pointe? Questions Answered. (karma: 4)
By mooshrimp Comments: 1700, member since Sat Mar 31, 2007
On Sun Apr 27, 2008 12:19 PM
Edited by mooshrimp (176314) on 2008-04-27 13:03:23
Made sticky by Theresa (28613) on 2008-04-28 15:27:55

There seem to be a lot of posts about when a student can go en pointe and why a person isn't yet en pointe. While these questions can only be answered by a teacher or trained professional, here are some things I've observed and heard from teachers. A special thanks to The Ballet Companion by Eliza Gaynor Minden and The Pointe Shoe Book as well as the many ballet teachers I have had over the past two years.

These are the most important aspects of ballet that must be understood before going en pointe.

1. Technique and strength. The important criteria that teachers want met before pointe:

-The strength to hold turnout consistently while dancing.

-The strength to hold all aspects of the upper body correctly. That includes stomach, ribcage, spine, neck, head, hips and shoulders.

-The ability to be pulled up, especially in the knees. There is a difference between knowing what pulling up is and a real full grasp of the concept and the way it feels. A teacher can tell the difference.

2. Commitment, attitude, and maturity.

-The dancer needs show a proper respect for the art of ballet and responsibility of pointe. Respect that pointe will NOT be learned overnight, requires hard work, and that it can be dangerous.

-The dancer must be hardworking. She should be enthusiastic about class and dance. She should show up to class in proper attire, neat and tidy, ready to learn and work her hardest.

-The dancer must be committed to learning ballet. The dancer should take at LEAST three 1.5 hour classes a week, and these classes must be ballet. Jazz, tap, modern etc... don't count towards this. While there are exceptions to this, the dancer should have taken ballet at least a year or two.

3. Health and physique.

-The dancer must be in proper health to handle the stress of pointework. That means not very overweight, and, equally important not UNDERWEIGHT. She shouldn't just be coming back from injury or sickness.

-She should possess a great deal of stamina. A dancer who struggles to make it through a full class is not ready.

4. Age.

-The average age for most dancers is between the ages of 10 and 12, with 12 being most common. Starting earlier doesn't mean a dancer is better than her peers and starting later doesn't reflect on the dancing abilities of the student.

5. Feet.

-Not everyone has feet suited to pointework. A person with exceptionally flat feet and stiff ankles will struggle dangerously to get over her boxes and should not do pointe work. Even if that dancer is exceptional and strong, pointe could be very dangerous. Banana feet is not a requirement either. Just the ability to get at least a straight line from the shins through the toes when pointing without struggling.

-The dancer should have no problem holding a HIGH, strong demi-pointe when balancing on one leg.

Here are some things you can do to help you improve in ballet faster, especially in the areas required for pointe.

1. Get a notebook and write down all your corrections from class. Better yet, write down ALL corrections for EVERYONE. Look over them before your classes and pick out the most important to work on. Over a few weeks you should see a few that appear over and over. Focus on those.

2. Do lots relevés. Do them on both legs, one leg, with one leg in coupé, with one leg in passé, with one leg in arabesque, with one leg in seconde, just do them at home a LOT.

3. Practice balancing on a high demi-pointe. As high as you can. Remember height is controlled a lot by your feet, but you must REALLY pull up! Think of a little wave of pulling up moving through your body. Pull up through your arches, your ankles, your knees, your hips, your core, your chest, your neck and your head. Practice holding those long balances on one leg. Do it while you're brushing your teeth and everywhere else.

4. Sit-ups. And lots of them. Helps build a stronger core.

5. Be polite. Often this is overlooked by many students, but a polite well behaved student shows the maturity required of pointe work. Respect the etiquette. Curtsy to your teacher and to the pianist (if there is one) at the end of class before clapping even if no one else does. Make sure you are always prompt and on time.

6. Respect your dress code. Keep your bun neat and tidy. Remember to take off your watch and other jewelry before class.

7. Always try the combinations and keep dancing. When you get lost don't just stand there, keep dancing SOMETHING. If you get discouraged by a hard combination, try even harder. Don't go to the back and sit it out or barely try. A good attitude is important. This is always impressive to teachers.

8. Ask about pointe. This is mostly important for late starters. Don't go up to your teacher and say, when can I go en pointe? There are only two scenarios when you should ask. If you are a late starter taking adult classes say something like, I was hoping that one day I could learn pointe. Is there anything in particular I should improve on in order to get there? The other scenario is if other girls in your class start pointe and you don't. It's perfectly reasonable to ask if there are specific things you should improve on so you can learn pointe with the rest of the class. Also don't ask more than once.

Dancers must remember that pointework is a privilege not a right. They should also remember that pointework, while it is an important marker, is not the end of ballet training! Pointe shoes won't magically make you a better dancer. Your ballet training will still continue the same way. Pointe can also be fun and challenging and is something to get excited about. Just not too carried away...

77 Replies to How Long Until Pointe? Questions Answered.

re: How Long Until Pointe? Questions Answered.
By Live4Dance344member has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 211, member since Mon Apr 21, 2008
On Mon Apr 28, 2008 04:24 PM
Thanks your helped alot!
re: How Long Until Pointe? Questions Answered.
By iDance4Jesus129member has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 237, member since Fri Mar 31, 2006
On Mon Apr 28, 2008 10:01 PM
These are excellent points! I'll be sure to remember them and print them out for my notebook. Thanks!
re: How Long Until Pointe? Questions Answered.
By Tasha74member has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 503, member since Wed Mar 29, 2006
On Tue Apr 29, 2008 02:52 PM
This is a really great thread. Thanks so much!
re: How Long Until Pointe? Questions Answered.
By cballet Comments: 46, member since Fri Mar 21, 2008
On Wed Apr 30, 2008 07:55 PM
great post! thanks :)
re: How Long Until Pointe? Questions Answered.
By BallerinaWanabee Comments: 135, member since Wed Mar 12, 2008
On Sat May 03, 2008 12:57 PM
Wow, I couldn't have said it better myself
=]

great job
re: How Long Until Pointe? Questions Answered.
By behappy_dancemember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 662, member since Sun May 11, 2008
On Wed Jun 18, 2008 08:04 AM
This was a great post! The only thing I don't agree with is that the dancer should take at least three 1.5 hour ballet classes. I'm in the oldest non- company class and this is the only class offered for our age group. Also, the classes are only an hour long. However, I have been dancing for about nine or ten years; doing ballet every year. Overall, it was great and very helpful to many people. Good job!
re: How Long Until Pointe? Questions Answered.
By pointe92member has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 807, member since Fri May 25, 2007
On Wed Jun 18, 2008 01:39 PM
finally! a post worth while :)
re: How Long Until Pointe? Questions Answered.
By miraclefrmheavnmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 2068, member since Mon Jun 02, 2008
On Thu Jun 19, 2008 10:15 PM
Edited by begstretcher2008 (197101) on 2008-06-19 23:20:42
Mooshrimp,

I love your posts. I do have one minor thing though... well three minor things actually. From what I can remember when I started pointe many, many, many years ago (and I have been away since I was 17), was that I have never held a high demi pointe on one leg, and I have always been overweight, but yet I was approved to go up on pointe and I did pretty good with it. The only thing that I got freaked about was the slipping on the floor thing. And I only took ballet once a week for an hour. (My teacher was a very good teacher and I loved her classes so much. She's been long retired and I would jump at the chance to go back to her studio again, however, I know this is not possible. I miss her so much).

So, I wouldn't exactly say you had to hold a high demi pointe or not be overweight. Um, but like I said this was many many years ago and maybe things have changed over the years that I might not be knowing.

Please let me know. Otherwise, I think this is an excellent post. Thank you very much for your knowledge. *HUGS*

Sincerely,

begstretcher2008
re: How Long Until Pointe? Questions Answered.
By emilyloves2dance Comments: 101, member since Mon Nov 26, 2007
On Fri Jun 20, 2008 04:16 AM
Great post!!
I found it very helpful. : )
Karma for you!
re: How Long Until Pointe? Questions Answered.
By breathe_ballet Comments: 23, member since Wed Jul 02, 2008
On Wed Jul 02, 2008 04:12 PM
This was extremely helpful. I am a beginning ballet dancer and pointe is a dream that I wish to attain at some point and it helps to know what it takes to get there. Thank you a lot!
re: How Long Until Pointe? Questions Answered.
By mooshrimp Comments: 1700, member since Sat Mar 31, 2007
On Wed Jul 02, 2008 08:15 PM
Hi guys thanks for reading! As for the above, I'd like to remind everyone this isn't a required list so much as just some helpful things to work on. These are important, but teachers don't all just walk around with checklists! These are ALL the things I have ever heard teachers say, so just keep them in mind if you're wanting to start pointe. Good luck guys!
re: How Long Until Pointe? Questions Answered.
By gaelicheartPremium member Comments: 22, member since Wed Jul 23, 2008
On Fri Jul 25, 2008 05:44 AM
Thanks for such a great post. I especially agree with the sit ups. I used to only do them half heartily until I decided to really get in shape this past spring and I've noticed a huge difference in my control. I recommend ab work for all dancers.
re: How Long Until Pointe? Questions Answered.
By TwinkleStar7 Comments: 27, member since Wed Jul 05, 2006
On Sun Aug 03, 2008 10:25 PM
Thanks! I think I might be starting ballet soon, but it is never too early to get pointers and tips for the future. Absercises here I come!!
re: How Long Until Pointe? Questions Answered.
By Sulli_Ballet Comments: 96, member since Sat Jul 19, 2008
On Mon Aug 04, 2008 06:05 PM
Hi! Thanks for the excellent and informative post! I haven't done much thinking about pointe (New Dancer!!!) but a few of the ladies in my class practice pointe and I admire them...some day!
re: How Long Until Pointe? Questions Answered.
By savannaballerina Comments: 66, member since Fri Aug 22, 2008
On Fri Aug 22, 2008 10:23 AM
Just to add on another pointer:

Ask your studio director/or teachers if you one day could have some guest teachers to come in and help you if you're just starting out en pointe. Every year at my dance studio, we have a ballet intensive for 2 weeks. For 4 hours each day, we had guest teachers from around the country come in and give us lessons. We had teachers like Tara Foy, Keith Clifton, Julie Gervais, Melissa Penn, and Laurie Konyak. They were amazing! I have only been en pointe for a few months, but they have really helped us to improve A LOT!!!!!
re: How Long Until Pointe? Questions Answered.
By hail2dance Comments: 18, member since Sun May 13, 2007
On Thu Sep 11, 2008 05:12 PM
Thanks that was really informative all the girls at my syudio should read this.
re: How Long Until Pointe? Questions Answered.
By caitasaur Comments: 14, member since Sat Sep 27, 2008
On Wed Oct 01, 2008 05:11 PM
There is a lot of people that should read this. Very informative.
re: How Long Until Pointe? Questions Answered.
By tinydancer304member has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 210, member since Thu Sep 04, 2008
On Sat Nov 22, 2008 04:47 PM
wow! this is great info! and all very true!
re: How Long Until Pointe? Questions Answered.
By emydivah Comments: 92, member since Wed May 02, 2007
On Sun Nov 30, 2008 05:24 PM
If I have all of that and I am 12 and have had 5yrs of Ballet training and my teachers compliment me on all those things what would your opinion be on why I am not en pointe?
re: How Long Until Pointe? Questions Answered.
By LaLucia Comments: 1, member since Sat Dec 20, 2008
On Sat Dec 20, 2008 09:57 PM
Thank you for this! Really, it helped me a lot, since I've only took a few ballet classes this year (mostly because I wanted to improve my jazz tecnique, but I ended up liking ballet more and more).

I'm 18 years old, and I had never had any training concerning dancing before. (In my defense, during my training this year I can say that I learn fast, and that I take it very seriously).

Anyway, lately I've been wondering if - with proper training and precautions - it could be possible for me to go on pointe - EVER!.

Thank you again, for all the info!

:)

Lucia.
re: How Long Until Pointe? Questions Answered.
By Cliffbella Comments: 146, member since Tue Dec 16, 2008
On Fri Jan 02, 2009 08:24 PM
Thank you! I'm a teen beginner and appreciate your thread! :)
re: How Long Until Pointe? Questions Answered.
By Bella_rina1993 Comments: 23, member since Sun Nov 19, 2006
On Sat Jan 03, 2009 01:54 AM
Edited by Bella_rina1993 (170441) on 2009-01-03 02:03:44 I wanted to talk about the youtube video as well and forgot to give the link at first
Well done mooshrimp! This is really good :)
Lisa Howell, a dance physiotherapist based in Sydney, Australia has a lot of information about this topic, so I would recommend visiting her website at theballetblog.com and have a look at the articles and videos she has made. I've learned so much from her website and I've been dancing en pointe for over 4 years! Her book 'The Perfect Pointe Book' is brilliant, and I would thoroughly recommend purchasing it if you are about to go onto pointe, because it will help you tremendously with your feet, legs and turnout! She has also written a book for parents as well, and it is free on her website! :)
Oh and another thing she says is that it is quite dangerous to start pointe work when you're really young because you can permanently damage you growth plates, and possibly not be able to do pointework when you're older.
Here is the URL her video, ¨What is the best age to start en pointe?¨ www.youtube.com . . .
You should definitely watch it, if you haven't done so already, and watch some of her other videos. They are all really really good and helpful and professional!
re: How Long Until Pointe? Questions Answered.
By lyraleperformer Comments: 29, member since Thu Jun 05, 2008
On Sat Jan 10, 2009 09:36 PM
thanks for all the tips at the bottom!
just there is one that i don't seem to be [mentally] capable of.
ASKING YOUR TEACHER ABOUT POINTE. my main teacher i know would just tell me not to ask dumb questions or just tear me apart, my other teacher i'll have to try that with. i know that even if i did get the guts to ask her (i have to admit i can be pretty shy at all the wrong times, even though i perform great on stage with no stagefright) i think i would choke.
thanks though.
more tips pleasr :)
re: How Long Until Pointe? Questions Answered.
By justdancee26 Comments: 6, member since Fri Jan 16, 2009
On Sun Jan 18, 2009 03:22 PM
this is such a great post! i haven't been dancing very long but have been dying to get en ponte! This was extremely helpful :)
thanks again so much!
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