Dancing “en pointe,” or on pointe, is a major goal in a ballerina’s dance life. Dancing on pointe, or your toes, requires tremendous strength of the legs and feet. Many ballet teachers have strict requirements for starting pointe work. How do you know when you’re ready for pointe shoes? Following are 5 requirements that must be met before considering starting pointe ballet classes.
Age for Pointe
The proper age to start pointe work is controversial. Many experts believe that a ballet dancer can begin dancing on pointe if she is at least 9 or 10 years old. Some teachers don’t attach a number at all, they simply rely on ability. However, because growth of the foot is about complete at age 11 or 12, many agree that pointe work could be introduced at this time. Never try dancing on pointe shoes if an instructor tells you to wait, as it’s easy to become injured.
Years of Training for Pointe
You can’t begin a ballet career in pointe shoes. In order to be able to dance on pointe, a dancer must have had time to achieve the form, strength, and alignment needed to make a successful transition into pointe work.
Class Enrollment for Pointe
In order to maintain proper technique and flexibility needed for pointe work, it is imperative to practice ballet formally at least 3 times per week. The pointe portion of the class should follow the regular ballet class, perhaps extending the class time by half an hour. This ensures that the entire body, especially the feet and ankles, are properly warmed up.
Physical Readiness for Pointe
All dancers should be formally evaluated by their ballet teacher to determine if they are physically ready to meet the demands of pointe work. The teacher should check for correct body position and alignment, sufficient turnout, strength and balance, and mastery of basic ballet techniques.
Emotional Maturity for Pointe
Pointe work is hard work. Beginning pointe classes will be more demanding on your body, especially your feet. Are you prepared to suffer from sore feet and occasional blisters? Also, pointe shoes are complicated and demand a certain level of responsibility to maintain. You must be taught the correct way to put them on your feet and tie them to your ankles. You must also care for them properly to keep them in good condition. Furthermore, are you ready to devote at least three hours per week to ballet classes? Choosing to dance on pointe is a decision that should be taken seriously.