Preparing for Pointe

Right now I have the awesome opportunity to teach pre-pointe at a local dance studio in my area! This brings me great joy. I've got between 5 and 7 girls, all of them really excited, some of them more ready than others, but all pretty dedicated. I won't be talking about them on this blog, but I might mention "a student" and "a problem" and "tendencies." It's just for their privacy.

However, I'll be posting some tutorials about muscle strengthening, posture, alignment, Pilates, cross training, and other things that are designed to prepare girls for pointe work. You are more than welcome to check them out!

When am I ready for pointe?

This is a very complicated question to answer, because everyone's body is different, and there is not set time or age or position you have to be able to hit before you can go en pointe.
But here are the basics:

1. You should be strong enough to balance in a releve in first position for a good minute. Without the barre. Your releve should be high up on your arches, forward with your weight over your big toes (no sickling) and not wobbly.

2. Your turnout should be stable: you should be able to do a tendu or grand battement or rond de jambe combination without your standing leg slowly slipping into a parallel position.

3. You should have reasonable abdominal and back strength. If you can do 60 crunches, or an Abs Series in Pilates, you'll probably be okay.

How old is too old, or how young is too young?

You don't have to be really young. I got en pointe when I was fourteen. I knew some people who got on much older than that. I knew some who got on at six or seven. Age doesn't make much of a difference. So don't worry about how old you are. It's all about your body. Ballanchine was famous for saying (something along these lines:) that ballet training doesn't need to start seriously until the age of eight or ten, and pointe doesn't need to start until about twelve. Getting en pointe is great, but you should be able to do something once you get up there.

Will my feet keep me from dancing en pointe? My scoliosis?  My bad turnout?

1. Flat feet make pointe hard. They don't keep you from being able to dance, they just make your life more difficult. I have flat feet. But I can do things other people have a lot of trouble with, like toe hops and promenades, very easily.

2. Scoliosis makes ballet in general difficult. There are some ways you just can't move. I've known some professional dancers who had to deal with their scoliosis, and they made it work. You have to learn what you can and can't do, and then learn to work with it. It may mean sacrificing certain roles because you can't do a certain step the way a choreographer wants you to do it. But it doesn't mean you can't dance at all.

3. Turning out is a movement, not a position. Although good turnout helps, it's not the position of being turned out that helps you dance, it's the action of turning out. It's the muscular flexion and engagement that helps you keep your balance and lift your legs higher etc. I have barely 100 degree turnout. But actually using the turnout muscles is what helps you.

As far as pointe, feet that aren't extremely turned out don't look as pretty in pointe shoes as feet that are very turned out, and you will be forever competing against girls with natural turnout, but it does not mean you can't fight for it—and win.

Want more?
Foot and Arch tutorials, Why you might have to wait to go en pointe, how to know if you're ready for pointe, which pointe shoes should you get?

1 comment:

  1. thanks for a great blog. you showed me how to pray for you. With God all things are possible. Go get 'em Girl!!

    ReplyDelete

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