Forum: Ballet / Ballet - Adult Dancers

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Adult Beginners & Pointe
By monkee_fugg
On Wed Feb 11, 2009 10:29 PM

I just turned 24, and just started ballet
I would LOVE to go on en pointe, but I know I have to be patient

I'm wondering if any of you adult beginners have gone en pointe
how long did it take?

Do you think starting ballet older makes it easier/quicker to learn and advance (given that one already possesses considerable strength and flexibility)?

I ask because I remember what ballet classes were like for me when I was 5 years old. I feel like I know so much more and am much better at ballet after only a few classes now than I was back then.

Are teachers less inhibited in allowing adults to go en pointe than they are with young dancers?

Thanks

57 Replies to Adult Beginners & Pointe

re: Adult Beginners & Pointe
By chalkbutt
On Thu Feb 12, 2009 05:38 AM
I started ballet two years ago at age 27 and have been on pointe for a year now. My teacher moved me up from the beginner's class after six months. My gymnastics backround definetely helped, as my ankles were already strong and really flexible.
Most of the adults ( those who have not danced through their childhood) in my school ( not in the States) take at least 1,5 to 2 years of classes before beginner pointe. Teachers here let all the adults at a certain class level do point, no-one checks if your feet and ankles are suitable or not, but everything is done at the barre for a long time, so there really isn't that much danger of people hurting themselves.

Some students don't want to do pointe or find it too difficult, so some teachers don't teach point and some alternate between jumps and beats or about 20 minutes of point at the end of the class.

I think in a certain way learning ballet is easier as an adult (well, your brain no longer is 5 years old for starters) but there are certain limitations that your body has, that can no longer be changed towards becoming more suitable for ballet.
re: Adult Beginners & Pointe
By Balletx2
On Thu Feb 12, 2009 07:43 AM
I took class for about five years before I went en pointe, but my classes were once a week and very recreational. I probably could have started sooner, but there are no other adults at that level at the studio. When my teacher approached me about the possibility of starting pointe work, it was something that I never thought I would do. There are certain things that make it harder for an adult. For me, the toughest thing is that no adults except the occasional beginner takes classes at my studio. Therefore, when I stepped up the classes I was taking to 2-3 a week, I had to join classes of kids. Right now I'm actually in my daughter's class. LOL

The other drawback is the limitations of an adult body. Adults aren't generally as flexible, and we don't recover from injury and strain as quickly as the youngsters. That being said, I think that adults in class have a bit of an advantage mentally. Remember, these are generalizations and don't apply to ALL dancers. I just see my own progress as compared to girls about 9-10 who are working toward pointe work one day. I think adults have a greater understanding of our bodies and the physical limitations of them. Sometimes it is harder for the younger ones to isolate certain muscle groups, but I find that adults who are better in tune with their bodies find this much easier.

I know for me, I never take for granted the chance I have been given as an adult. I never complain about the pain or other downers because this has brought such a joy to my life. I think that kids and adults alike can appreciate dance, but sometimes adults just have a different appreciation.
re: Adult Beginners & Pointe
By sugarfairy_member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Thu Feb 12, 2009 08:35 AM
I started dancing at the age of 21, now I'm 22 and en pointe. It took me 6 months of daily strengthening to get en pointe, but I love it!!
re: Adult Beginners & Pointe
By Verena
On Thu Feb 12, 2009 10:17 AM
I started at the age of 4 and quit and the age of 12...couldn't stand my teachers' physical and psychological methods anymore...I restarted ballet last October and was put on pointes a month ago. But I am considered to be very flexible and with strong feet + in my country they put kids on pinte pretty early.
re: Adult Beginners & Pointe
By mooshrimp
On Thu Feb 12, 2009 11:38 AM
Edited by mooshrimp (176314) on 2009-02-12 11:40:16
I'm wondering if any of you adult beginners have gone en pointe
how long did it take?
I started at 17 and I went en pointe about 8 months later, but I probably shouldn't have been allowed to that soon! I'm glad I got to experience it sooner rather than later though (I was impatient too :)). I've been dancing for almost three years now, en pointe nearly 2.

Do you think starting ballet older makes it easier/quicker to learn and advance (given that one already possesses considerable strength and flexibility)?
Yes. It makes it easier in that mentally you can pick on things much faster and you have a much better awareness of your body. When a teacher gives you a correction generally you can actually use that correction whereas a 10 year old might not be able to for awhile. Also, you are in a much better position and age to build muscle. Generally the muscles needed for ballet and pointe can't fully develop until late teens. As an adult you will be able to develop these muscles in a much shorter time period than someone in their early teens. However, you won't be able to develop the proper muscles until you know how to work them, which takes quite awhile.

Are teachers less inhibited in allowing adults to go en pointe than they are with young dancers?
Definitely. Adult dancers are generally much more aware of safety precautions than teens (even older teens) and won't be so careless or dangerous in pointe shoes. Also the bones in the feet are fully formed meaning less of a chance of severe permanent injury to the foot.
re: Adult Beginners & Pointe
By SpunkyPopcorn
On Thu Feb 12, 2009 12:09 PM
I'm not en pointe yet, but I'm 24 and started taking classes this past August (well, actually I started private lessons in August and classes started in September). I'm only taking 2 classes a week, plus private lessons (once a week), so I'm not sure how long it'll be before I get permission to go en pointe. Especially since I'm working from square one, completely (I haven't taken any classes since I was 10, haven't been in any sports, and the extent of my exercise routine has been walking and some biking and minor hiking. Yikes!)!

I'm trying really hard to be patient (and I'm still haven't fun along the way, even though I get really frustrated with myself really easily), and I know it's going to take a lot of time to get up to par, but I still can't help wishing there was a status bar of sorts that shows you how far you're along (you know, like sometimes when you take online assessments or quizzes and after each set of questions, it'll show a bar at the top and color in what % you're at out of 100...).

Okay, enough rambling. In short: I'm in the same boat as you! Good luck and have fun just learning and try not to focus too much on "the goal" and just enjoy getting there! :)
re: Adult Beginners & Pointe
By monkee_fugg
On Thu Feb 12, 2009 01:57 PM
Thank You all for the great replies!!
That is pretty much what I expected.

Adults learn & pick things up more quickly, and can take correction far better than children.
I'm so happy & excited to hear some of you beginners have gone en pointe so soon. I feel like all I need to do pick up the technique and improve my balance, and I'll be there--which doesn't seem too difficult, given that I LOVE ballet!

The only thing that I worry about and that sort of saddens me is that starting dance at 24, I doubt that I can develop a 'dancer's body.'
I am quite athletic, have great muscles, and am amazingly flexible, and all.. but I feel like i'm not as svelte as a dancer 'ought' to be. I'm 5'8 and a size 6 right now.
I used to be a size 4, but that's when I wasn't eating properly.
Everyone says I'm thin, but I'm not happy with my weight.
I want to lose weight, but I remember that when I was my thinnest, I still thought I was fat.
I would love to feel like a 'real' ballet dancer some day, and going en pointe is part of that. But I just don't feel like I will ever be able to feel like a 'real dancer' b/c I won't have the 'dancer's body.'

Sorry to be turning this into a body-image post, but I'm just wondering how weight and body-type factors into going en pointe as an adult, whose bone structure and figure is basically set.
re: Adult Beginners & Pointe
By balletrocks50
On Thu Feb 12, 2009 05:22 PM
I started ballet at 42 and at 46 years old started pointe once a week at the barre for 30 minutes after an intermed/adv class. That was 3 + years ago. Now I take 5 hours of pointe class a week in addition to technique (an additional 4 hours for a total of 9 hours per week) and I just turned 50.

I didn't dance as a child so I can't comment on if it is easier to learn as a youngster but I can say that it is probably easier to focus, be more disciplined, take critism and direction as an adult. As a child or teen student, it is easier to attend dance often given that your parents are presumably paying for class and driving you there. As an adult who is paying for their own classes, it isn't easy to find and attend an adult pointe class while still working, being a mom and wife, let alone find a teacher who encourages adults on pointe.

So in terms of what you can expect at your age, well, it certainly isn't too late. The bigger issue is can you devote the time and money to develop the skills, flexibility and strength to learn pointe without injury or lots of frustration.

Regarding teachers attitude toward adults starting pointe, my experience has been that they discourage it, especially if you are older. Most dance experts agree that adult dancers wanting to learn pointe need to have taken a couple years of ballet and should be currently taking a minimum of 3 classes a week. This isn't easy to do since adult dancers usually have jobs and financial limitation that make it difficult for them to devote time to ballet. The adults who start in my class who are not dancing at least 3 times a week, usually give up on pointe because they get frustrated that they are unable to do things due to lack of strength and stamina.

Plus there is the cost of the shoes. Plan on spending $70 minimum for shoes, elastics and ribbon per pair and be prepared to see those shoe become dead and useless in less than a month if you are doing pointe alot.

Not trying to discourage you but I believe teachers realize that most adult ballet students don't care to devote the time and money for such an endeavor so they tend not to push it. If your goal is to get on pointe, let you teacher know but be prepared to do lots of preparation if not a few years of ballet classes before your teacher invites you to start pointe.
re: Adult Beginners & Pointe
By wembley
On Fri Feb 13, 2009 06:32 PM
I started ballet as an adult (at nearly 29), and have done pointe off and on (interrupted by a broken toe (non-ballet related), moving and stopping ballet for 18 months due to work commitments).

The main issues I have found are that as an adult I am much slower to build up muscle strength and gain flexibility.
re: Adult Beginners & Pointe
By TutuU222
On Fri Feb 13, 2009 10:22 PM
I LOVE teaching adult beginners pointe. As long as they are taking several classes a week, are serious and committed to the class, and have the strength and flexibility, there's nothing wrong with going on pointe at any age as far as I'm concerned. We don't usually put it on the schedule, but several years ago when I was teaching the adult classes, a few of the students expressed an interest to go on pointe. Since their ballet class was at the end of the day, we just tacked on a half hour pointe class at the end. They loved it! For some it was a life-long dream come true and I was so pleased that I could be a part of that.

Adult beginners and adult beginners on pointe are some of my favorite classes to teach because they WANT to be there so much. They really want to learn and they ask intelligent questions. If you are interested, ask your teacher. In most cases, we don't give it any thought unless our students express an interest and ask us. It's just something we don't usually think about for the adults -- we just assume they are not interested. Plus, it does take a certain number of students to make the class worthwhile to run (to cover overhead, etc.), so some studios are reluctant to run them because adults are sometimes very inconsistent with their attendance. So eventually, when you are ready, and you get a group of other adults who are interested, it certainly doesn't hurt to ask.

In the beginning, it's only exercises at the barre anyway. As dancers progress at their own speed, some can do some of the exercises center floor if they choose, while the weaker ones remain happily at the barre for as long as they are comfortable.
re: Adult Beginners & Pointe
By balletrocks50
On Sat Feb 14, 2009 10:14 AM
TutuU222 wrote:



In the beginning, it's only exercises at the barre anyway. As dancers progress at their own speed, some can do some of the exercises center floor if they choose, while the weaker ones remain happily at the barre for as long as they are comfortable.



So true, TutuU222! I noticed that in my class where some are just happy to wear the shoes and not at all happy about stepping away from the barre! ;)
re: Adult Beginners & Pointe
By wembley
On Sat Feb 14, 2009 05:22 PM
My teacher has to practically drag me away from the barre! On my own, I won't let go and move into the centre until I am 100% sure that I can do something, whereas with the kids in my pointe class, she is sending them back to the barre because they keep trying things in the centre that they aren't ready for yet!
re: Adult Beginners & Pointe
By SpunkyPopcorn
On Sat Feb 14, 2009 07:23 PM
I'm the same way! I LOVE the barre (I feel like I'm really working my muscles and such when I'm there because I concentrate more on engaging my muscles and what my legs, feet, core, arms, etc. are doing, rather than just trying to keep my balance!), probably because it's something to hold on to and keep me from falling on my face.

The class I take on Saturday mornings is a mix of ages (but mostly geared towards 9-year-olds and up, though now we have more adults than kids!) and we were given a short lecture about how we might be sick of the barre and want to do things in the center, but we need the barre to get to that point, etc., etc., and here I am thinking, "No! I love my barre!" Granted, I know I have to get off it sometime so I can built better strength...but still!
re: Adult Beginners & Pointe
By odile53
On Sun Feb 15, 2009 09:56 PM
It all depends: In my school the same rules apply to adults as well as young adolescents for pointe. Minimum one year recent ballet experience, or approval from the teacher, which entails such things as sixteen perfectly executed releves in center, no wobbles, ability to hold retire for twenty seconds in eleve without wobbling, and a few other parameters. Proper technique must be maintained, and that is my teacher's focus. Three classes (1 1/2 hours each) plus the pointe class itself are minimum attendance requirements for first year pointe students, all ages. Subsequent years can do any or all classes en pointe as desired.

There are a couple of other rules as well for middle aged adults: No diabetics (foot injuries are too risky for them) and anyone over the age of forty must have a bone density scan done annually (no dancers with osteoporosis are allowed to do pointe because of the heightened risk of fractures.) The adults, because of delayed recovery from injury, must wear darned, moleskinned, or suede tipped pointe shoes, no exceptions, even the former pros and semi-pros. It seems that locally, a woman in her sixties fell executing a pirouette, fractured her hip, and required surgical repair. BTW--she is a former soloist from a ballet company in the south someplace, I forget where right now, and she certainly knows how to turn. An accident can happen to anyone, I don't think these restrictions are too draconian for people in an age group whose bodies are by definition losing some youthful strength, flexibility, and resilience. Those of us who are interested enough to pursue pointe have no real problem maintaining and meeting the standards.
re: Adult Beginners & Pointe
By alatariel
On Mon Feb 16, 2009 05:43 AM
hi
that all sounds very encouraging, I just started ballet (22years) and I would really love to go en pointe if I could. Any excersises I could do to help my ankels?? Im also an irish dancer, would this help? I mean I reckon my ankles are a bit more flexible than people who don't dance, so what do I have to do to get on pointe as soon as possible?? (safely of course)
re: Adult Beginners & Pointe
By twinkletoes84member has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Thu Feb 19, 2009 10:39 AM
hey im 24 and i'm so excited because i have just bought my first pairs of pointes today!!! i started ballet when was 19 and the stopped for about 2 years and then picked it up again. I love my new pointe shoes and going up en pointe feels strangely natural! when you're an adult you can figure out what your limits are more easily and are more aware of what its hould feel like. ;which helps. I did figure skating for around ten years and my first thought when i put pointe shoes on was ... it feels strangely like my feet are in my skates again.

have fun!!
re: Adult Beginners & Pointe
By BallerinaKitri
On Thu Feb 19, 2009 10:59 AM
I'm 21 and started again 2 years ago. After one year I was en pointe. But I was en pointe before in an age of 12 to 15. Maybe it wasn't so new ;.)

I don't think that starting ballet older makes it easier or quicker, I can only rembemer that I had to wait until I'm 12 when I was a child, what really was hard, because I always dreamed of being en pointe. I think, when you start again as an adult you WANT to do it, which is not so sure for children.
re: Adult Beginners & Pointe
By amelia_ozmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:33 AM
Odile53, I just wanted to say thanks for posting your school's rules. One of the schools I go to runs only adult classes, mostly ballet, and they've had so many women either in class en pointe already or enquiring about going en pointe that they are going to start regular pointe classes. I teach the beginner adults and attend classes sometimes en pointe so they've asked me what I think - I will have to pass those suggestions on. I love that adults have the opportunity to do something so fun and hard, it's not merely the realm of dedicated teens and professionals.

monkee_fug: I began jazz at 22, ballet at 24 (having never done it before), and pointe at 26. Now I am 30 and teach adult and kids ballet, jazz and tap (I studied a teaching certificate last year). I don't do as much pointe now because I had an injury and haven't had as much time, but I will be doing dedicated pointe classes this year. I have been in two school shows en pointe - nerve-racking (more than usual) but so much fun. Sadly, pointe does interfere with tap technique! But, if I can do it, there's hope for everyone!

Amelia :D
re: Adult Beginners & Pointe
By dancingsuzi
On Sun Feb 22, 2009 02:00 AM
This is a great thread and very interesting. I danced for several years in my youth but never got as far as pointe as i stupidly gave up the ballet even though my teacher wanted me to audition for the royal ballet school.....Grrrr!

Anyway I have returned to ballet now in my 30's and would love to go on pointe but never thought that would ever be possible. I know that at my current studio that won't happen as we only have one adult ballet class available so there isn't the intensity of training, however we are hopefully moving over to Perth, Oz this year where there are more opportunities for adult ballet training, so maybe just maybe I might get the opportunity.

However even if I don't I am still enjoying my ballet classes as they are
re: Adult Beginners & Pointe
By balletjunkie
On Wed Mar 04, 2009 01:20 AM
Never too late!
It will require strong technique with careful proper training with consistancy. Look for a teacher that is particular about training safely with proper alignment! You can train and train for years and still have improper technique that will not bring you closer to being on pointe, so be careful when choosing your instructor is the way to follow our path to being on pointe!
Good Luck and happy dancing. Enjoy the journey to get there!
re: Adult Beginners & Pointe
By elliemaydance
On Tue Mar 10, 2009 07:14 AM
I am so excited at the thought of being told I'm ready to go en pointe. It wont be for at least a year I'm sure, but I can't wait. Well done to all those adult beginners who have managed it, its truly an awesome achievement.
re: Adult Beginners & Pointe
By zebraobsession
On Tue Mar 10, 2009 02:30 PM
hey amelia_oz! I was curious, how did you get your teaching certificate? Like what program did you go through?
re: Adult Beginners & Pointe
By BalletTragic
On Tue Mar 24, 2009 05:23 PM
dancingsuzi wrote:

we are hopefully moving over to Perth, Oz this year where there are more opportunities for adult ballet training, so maybe just maybe I might get the opportunity.

Hi dancingsuzi - I live in Perth, and take classes at four different studios, with two different teachers. One teacher's class is not particularly suitable for doing pointe work (although it's a great class for other reasons), as much of it is stretching and floor barre. However, the other teacher tries to make her classes suitable for those who wish to do pointe work, although they are not specifically designed for that. I tend to do barre and simpler centre work on pointe at those classes, and change into technique shoes for the majority of centre work. I also take a private all pointe class with this teacher, which I share with one other student.

So if you come to Perth, I'm sure you will find opportunities to undertake pointe work if that's what you want to do. PM me if you want specific details of the classes mentioned above.
Cheers
re: Adult Beginners & Pointe
By ballerinaKSmember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Tue Mar 24, 2009 06:31 PM
Hi all,

I have learnt pointe for half year. At the beginning, I was really scared to stay away from the barre. One of my teachers put both we, the beginners and the advanced/pro in the same class. We, the beginners often stay at the barre while the advanced/pro move to the centre after 1/2 exercise at the barre.

I actually quite enjoy this approach and sometimes, my teacher encourages us to stay at the barre but let go the hands on the barre.

Now, I have started to do pose in arabesque in centre, pose turns, pirouettes, etc.

Adults generally do absorb the instruction faster than the children, but I agree that our body doesn't recover that quick as compared to the younger ones. I am just 28, but I wish I could have my 22-body back. LOL!

:)
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