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Pointe for boys


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#1 silkmaiden

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Posted 25 October 2016 - 09:20 AM

I did a search and it looks like the last thread in the boys' forum about pointe was all the way back in 2012, so I thought I'd start a new one.:)

 

My son (10yo, will be 11 in Jan) is starting to ask about trying pointe. The other ballet boy his age is in prepointe now, and with all the rest of the girls in his class getting rather pointe obsessed, it's no surprise he wants to try it too. 

 

I'm quite excited about the idea! But I don't know much about boys specifically and their readiness for pointe. I assume the guidelines are the same as for the girls in terms of training/strength/flexibility/bone development? Or do boys tend to be ready later physically?

 

Curious too how parents of boys who've tried pointe have found their experiences. And any tips to dying pointe shoes without ruining them would be great. Though my son has said he doesn't mind the pink!



#2 Victoria Leigh

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Posted 25 October 2016 - 11:44 AM

There are different theories on this, silkmaiden, but personally I do not agree with pointe training for boys, especially young boys.  They need to be working on building the strength for their jumps and turns and spending their time on ballet technique. If they are in a class where the girls have pointe work, the teacher should be giving the boys other things during that period of time.  And yes, boys do generally mature later than girls in terms of the type of growth, technique and strength which would qualify them for pointe. I feel that it is unnecessary to teach pointe to young male dancers, and in fact find it most unusual for boys to even want to do it. They will not be performing on pointe during their training years. They need pirouettes and double tours and entrechat six and grand allegro jumps! :)


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#3 silkmaiden

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Posted 25 October 2016 - 12:12 PM

Thanks Ms. Leigh. There certainly do seem to be different schools of thought on this issue!  I appreciate your experienced opinion very much. 

 

We're lucky at the moment to be at a studio with a dedicated boys class taught by a male ex-pro ballet dancer (where there's only 2 of them in the class so it's like having a semi-private every week!), and a jr pas de deux; so he is very fortunate to be learning all the boys/mens stuff from a male teacher no less. :) If he did pointe he would be joining the prepointe class, as they don't work on prepointe work in their syllabus or openwork classes I don't think. 

 

It certainly isn't a particularly important skill to have for a boy of course, but I thought it might be a fun extra. 



#4 Victoria Leigh

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Posted 25 October 2016 - 12:26 PM

Pre-pointe work is ballet technique. Personally, I'm not a big fan of extra pre-pointe classes either. I think they take time away from developing the over all level of technique and strength needed for pointe work, and some of them have too many steps that are actually harder to do on demi-pointe than they are on pointe. Too many relevés on demi pointe are not productive and can lead to tendonitis in young growing dancers. Again, just my opinion.But,in my experience, if the teachers would wait to put young dancers on pointe until they are really technically and physically ready, they will be just fine without having had pre-pointe classes.  But most cave in to demand in order to keep their students and parents happy, and put them on pointe way too soon.  Unless a student has an exceptionally good physical facility for ballet, especially with both strong and flexible feet, good rotation and placement, and knees that straighten, then pointe is certainly not "fun" at the beginning. It is hard, and often, if not usually, painful.  


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#5 silkmaiden

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Posted 25 October 2016 - 01:11 PM

Thank you Ms. Leigh - great advice. And since I danced all my life and still do, I know pointe isn't as easy (or fun sometimes) as it looks. :) I wasn't ready when I was first put on as a kid, and it was pretty awful. I was more careful when I returned to ballet as an adult, and pointe this time around has been a lot easier (not easy, but easier!). So certainly individual readiness takes precedent over anything else. 



#6 slhogan

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Posted 25 October 2016 - 07:35 PM

Boys are slower in their physical growth compared to girls.  A little background on growth spurts:  The adolescent growth spurt begins in the hands and feet-- they begin outgrowing their shoes faster than you can buy them!  Then, the long bones of the legs and arms grow quickly-- that's the stage where they have that awkward gangling look.  Finally, their torsos fill out as they stop growing in height.  

 

Girls usually go on pointe around 11-12-- about the time their foot growth spurt has stopped.  However, boys are usually just *beginning* their foot growth spurt at that age.  It wouldn't be healthy or safe to put a boy on pointe when their feet are actively growing and less stable. If a boy really wanted to go on pointe, it would be safer to wait until his feet have mostly stopped growing.     

 

My son went on pointe briefly around the age of 14.  He kept trying on the girls' old pointe shoes, and finally his instructor said if he really wanted to give it a try it wouldn't hurt anything to try some pointe work since his feet appeared to have stopped rapidly growing.  Additionally, he would soon be leaving our local studio to train at a large, company-affiliated men's program the following year, and he knew they wouldn't let him do pointe so he was eager to seize his last opportunity to try it out.    

 

He was fitted for pointe shoes, and we dyed them black.  He then took pointe class with the girls twice a week.  He enjoyed the process and gained a real appreciation of "how the other half lives".  He only did this for about 3-4 months and then he grew tired of it. The experience had served its purpose and it was time to move on and focus heavily on men's work.  Still, it was fun while it lasted.  



#7 Thyme

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Posted 25 October 2016 - 08:05 PM

Yes 17yo DS 'tried' pointe briefly too. He was about 12 and all the girls were getting ready. I think he did two classes?? He too thought it would be cool and fun. We were given pointe shoes by the teacher, dyed them black and off he went. He only did it at the barre but nonetheless he quickly gained appreciation for how truly difficult pointe is. I think that is worthwhile for sure but I was quite happy for him not to be exposing his precious feet to that!

 

After those two classes he quickly decided he would 'never ever ever' do that again and we have been back in nice canvas shoes ever since! :clapping:



#8 silkmaiden

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Posted 25 October 2016 - 09:05 PM

Thanks slhogan & Thyme! It's really neat to hear about your sons' experiences. I'm sure it's the novelty factor, and the fact all his peers are just getting into it.....if nothing else if he goes for it,  it will give him an appreciation of what the girls do in his pas de deux classes. :D



#9 finallykf

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Posted 27 October 2016 - 11:28 AM

My son never actually wore pointe shoes but when he was at his hometown pre-pro school and the girls in his level (he was the only boy) started pointe, his AD told him she expected him to stay for the 30 minutes pointe class after their regular technique class. While the girls did their beginning pointe work at the barre she had him do the same exercises at the barre, just on flat. She said doing the same exercises the girls were doing would help him work his feet and calves. He enjoyed taking the point class with them. Although he wasn't actually on pointe, it helped him appreciate all the hard work the girls put into starting pointe work. I do know at some point he tried on someone's pointe shoes just to feel what it was like. And because of that, whenever he starts to complain about his feet hurting he always stops himself because he knows what the girls go through!

#10 silkmaiden

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Posted 27 October 2016 - 01:36 PM

Thanks for sharing your experience finallykf. :) Very interesting to hear about. I know what it's like to be a girl growing up in ballet, it is fascinating and interesting how the boys' world is similar yet different in so many ways. 

 

We're just appreciative at our studio that he has a great male  mentor/teacher, that is not an easy thing to find near us at all. And it turns out he did pointe as a strengthening tool when he was a pro ballet dancer, so that was pretty cool to hear about too. 



#11 BBdad

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Posted 21 December 2016 - 05:34 PM

My 16yr old son has been on pointe for the past 3 years.  He takes 1 to 2 pointe classes a week depending on what is on tap for the school's curriculum. The initial challenge was finding pointe shoes in size 12 that are wide enough. When we found the right shoes, he went right on pointe with ease and strength.  The resulting effects for him have been more positive than negative.  His core strength increased and his foot work has become more precise.  His feet got stronger and in the time he has only bruised his toenail once. His appreciation for his partners and understanding the balance point when holding them improved. He caters to their needs intuitively. Due to his size and weight, he goes through pointe shoes really quickly. During this past fall, he has reduced his pointe work due to an increase in partnering. In addition to his ballet, he plays club soccer and is a kicker/punter on his high school football team.  In soccer, his touch definitely became better and his accuracy improved when shooting the ball. In football, his Coach is amazed at his ability to knuckle the ball and get 40+ yards in his field goal with ease. So overall, it has been a helpful skill that has paid out dividends in many areas. 


Edited by BBdad, 22 December 2016 - 11:35 AM.


#12 silkmaiden

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Posted 22 December 2016 - 11:15 AM

 BBdad, that is great and very encouraging. It's probably a year off for us yet, but my son is eager to try and it's really neat that it's becoming so widely accepted. 




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