Jump to content
Ballet Talk for Dancers
  • Announcements

    • Helene

      2018 Joint Fundraiser for Ballet Talk for Dancers and Ballet Alert!   02/03/2018

      We have launched our 2018 Fundraiser.  To donate, please see the instructions on our home page for checks (US dollars only) and credit card donations via PayPal.  We close the fundraiser as soon as we raise enough to sustain us for the next year, and we thank you for your support!
lilcris

Students being put on pointe in just weeks or months??

Recommended Posts

lilcris

Hello Ballet Talk!

 

I am a new dancer, starting just over 6 months ago at the age of 28. I love ballet and have loaded up on as many classes as I can handle. Like many, I wonder how soon it will be until I can try pointe - I understand the general criteria for pointe work, but still don't know where I fit in (is my technique "strong" or just "pretty strong for a beginner"?). So I have been doing a lot of searching online in the interest of gather more information and during my search I came across a discussion along the lines of "how long did it take to get on pointe?" Many answers were the standard 2-3 years or more, but many were much, much shorter. Among the lengths of time mentioned, and the number of students who reported them, were:

 

8-9 months (4)

a little less than 6 months (8)

6-7 months (10)

within 2 months (2)

One month (1)

Two weeks (3)

 

Of course, there were many students who reported studying ballet for 1-7 years before going on pointe, but the 2 most frequent answers seems to be around 1 year and around 6 months.

 

I was personally a bit shocked by this conversation, especially after reading similar posts on this forum. Anyone else shocked? Is it really that common for people to start pointe so early? :grinning:

Share this post


Link to post
Clara 76

This can all be traced back to the training. If an adult dancer who had years of experience as a child and danced en pointe during her training years, asked me about putting her en pointe I could see doing it after 6 months if her technique was strong. But taking a beginner-beginner and putting her en pointe after 6 months would generally be regarded a mistake. Unless the dancer was Sylvie Guillem's identical twin, well then, maybe.

Share this post


Link to post
Victoria Leigh

Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, lilcris. :blushing:

 

If you found similar posts about going on pointe in months on this board, then you would have also seen the comments immediately following, which would explain the facts of life! Beginning students should not be put on pointe. Period. Ever. And one does not leave the beginner status in months, or even a year. I realize you are now taking more classes than most beginning adults, however, it will still take years, not months. And, there are some people who should never be in pointe shoes.

 

Please go to the Pointe Shoe forum, and in the "Sticky" threads at the top there is one entitled Facts of Life About Pointe Work. Perhaps this will help answer some questions! :)

 

Obviously I am a huge fan of the Internet, however, the amount of misinformation that one can find is staggering. Sure, there are schools and teachers out there who will put anyone on pointe and will do it after very little training. However, on this board you will find the advice to say run, don't walk, to find another school!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Skittl1321

If you go back into my post history you'll notice that I was put onto pointe (at the barre once a week, and a teeny bit in center at private lesson) not too long after I started ballet (this was by the adult teacher, not the kids teacher. The kids at this studio would have never been allowed this.). However, I had been dancing steadily for 15+ years, including some ballet- my feet were very strong, and I was able to support myself properly in the shoes.

 

But when I got to a dedicated pointe class, I realized I wasn't ready, and put the pointe shoes aside for a year and a half. Waiting is really a good idea. (Now I'm about to restart ballet again- and I don't think pointe shoes will be in the picture for a few years again.)

Share this post


Link to post
xSugarplum

You have to keep in mind that many adult ballet teachers struggle to find adult students and that adult students tend to not be as "faithful" as kid students might be. Meaning, if the student really wants to go on pointe (and many do, mostly for status issues...) and the teacher says no, they'll go to another school that will say yes. As a result, lots of teachers put up students who have no business being on pointe, just because otherwise they would lose the business of that student. Also if they have the reputation of someone who puts adults on pointe easily, some other adults who got turned down at other studios might come to that studio instead, as adults tend to talk about experiences on forums such as this one, and others.

 

A lot of teachers wage that since an adult's feet are done growing and the bones are done setting, the extent of the damage possible to the feet isn't as large as that of a child's, and also that since an adult has no hope of having a career in ballet anyway, it's not as big of a deal if they do injure themselves as it doesn't risk ruining their future career chances.

 

All of these thoughts have been taken from several teachers I've heard speak about with other people on the subject. I'm not saying those teachers are the majority by a long shot, but they definitely are out there, and I think people who tend to post on these types of forums are enough of ballet fanatics to search for such teachers as mentioned above if they really wanted to do pointe work, than the regular casual beginning adult ballet student.

 

If you go to a ballet store as a young girl and try to get fitted for pointe shoes, most stores will confirm with the teacher of your school that you were approved. If you go as an adult, most stores will simply fit you and let you walk away with a pair, no questions asked. Adults are just not held to the same standard as children because realistically people figure that its up to that adult to decide if they want to destroy their bodies at the cost of being able to say they do pointe.

 

I see people in some open adult classes I take that can't even do a pique with a straight knee, and yet they're allowed to do pirouettes in the center. This is the best, most renowned school in the area with quality teachers and classes and even professionals take these classes, so this is no Dolly Dinkle school, either.

Share this post


Link to post
Victoria Leigh

Yes, I think that what xSugarplum describes above does happen. Sadly. Doesn't make it right, doesn't make it good, doesn't make it ethical.

Share this post


Link to post
Mazenderan
I see people in some open adult classes I take that can't even do a pique with a straight knee, and yet they're allowed to do pirouettes in the center.

 

I think one 'positive' thing about this sort of situation for adult learners, though, is that they have a greater capacity to assess themselves critically and slow things down if they feel they've been pushed beyond their competency. I did this myself after reading posts on here about pointe readiness and looking at myself in class. I don't know if children are equipped to do this, though, and there are some stomach-churningly awful* videos on young girls en pointe on Youtube which would suggest that rushing students into pointe shoes is not restricted to adult classes.

 

*'Awful' is not a criticism of the girls themselves, who are trying their hardest and are often looking for criticism and advice. I mean awful in the sense that the student's lack of readiness for pointe means that the potential for injury is screamingly evident and scary.

Share this post


Link to post
ami1436

Mazenderan, I think you are correct, but only to an extent. Those who can self-assess are those, who like us, have made it their business to learn about technique, pointe readiness, etc., outside of their dance classes. I know many, many, many adults who don't -- and who really shouldn't be on pointe (maybe one class a week, if that, inflexible ankles, bent legs, etc! And the teacher (who I stopped dancing with several years ago) definitely used pointe as an 'enticement' to keep students... and she thought it looked impressive to have so many people en pointe in her classes and shows. I always tried not to watch some, because I had such a fear of them injuring themselves.

Share this post


Link to post
Guest Pas de Quoi

The self-assessment (or lack thereof) ami1436 refers to in the above post is a very insightful point. I teach a variety of levels in adult open classes. At this studio there are both foundation and intermediate pointe classes for teens and adults. This sounds great but ..... I still have some students who insist on taking open classes in their pointe shoes when they just are not capable of working correctly in these classes. They try to change exercises at the barre to make them into pointe exercises, they step up onto bent knees, lose whatever placement they have, ingrain already evident bad habits, etc. etc. and basically do themselves, the teacher and the other students no favor by struggling through 90 minutes of class this way.

 

I am just at a loss to understand why this happens. I can state with 100% certainty that a dancer who truly wants to do things correctly and strive to advance to a higher level of technique and artistry would not do this. I have suggested these students switch back to flat shoes for the class, and they just keep putting the pointe shoes on. As this studio has a large adult program, we do have dancers in these classes who are capable of taking the class on pointe and they do very well. It's so hard to try to convince someone that what she is doing is just not helping make her a better dancer. I get a lot of reasons as to why the dancer insists on doing this: "I'm just breaking in a new pair of shoes" or "I can't come to the pointe class today so I'll take this one on pointe" or "The pointe teacher makes us do everything so slowly and she's a perfectionist - I just want to dance" (BTW - I love that excuse!)

 

Ultimately - and I feel sad to say this - these students will continue to do what they want and will continue to do it badly.

Share this post


Link to post
Mazenderan

It's so dreadful that there are adults who would be so childish and stubborn as to not only fail to look at themselves critically, but also to discount the teacher's advice in that way. Would they throw a hissy fit if you flat out told them that they were not technically proficient enough to tackle the class in pointe shoes?

Share this post


Link to post
Serendipity

I must say that I will break in my pointe shoes in a flat-shoe class, but I refuse to go on pointe if doing that. The sole purpose to me is to make it demi and force the shoe to soften that way. <grin>

 

Mazenderan, they wouldn't throw a hissy fit, but might find another class instead.

Share this post


Link to post
xSugarplum

The adults I've described as doing piques on bent knees are actually trying pirouettes en pointe, both en dedans and en dehors. Since they don't have the strength t releve onto the shank, they basically pique with an extremely bent knee, then do a little hop/rotation (no spotting) with their leg in a completely turned in passe position, and land by "jumping" off. I've seen at least a dozen people do this in various classes.

 

I think all adults have the capacity to judge whether they should be doing pointe or not. But I think some adults delude themselves into thinking that doing it this way will "strengthen" them so they are one day "ready". They don't realize they have to be ready for pointe before doing pointe, rather than do pointe in order to be ready for pointe. One person who cannot even stretch the top of her foot in a manner to get over the box of their shoes told me that they thought doing pointe work was helping them stretch their feet, and that their feet were really weak before pointe work and they thought they would never be ready for pointe work unless they worked on their feet WITH pointe shoes.

 

The logic just doesn't fit...and teachers don't say anything for fear of losing students. Honestly, if I were a teacher I'd rather a lose a student than my integrity, but I guess times are tough.

Share this post


Link to post
ami1436

Well, and the problem is that it is not just the adult students at fault, but sometimes also the teachers. This is definitely the case in the specific situation I mentioned above (the teacher was the opposite of Pas de Quoi, it seems!), where she'd tell students that she thought they could start pointe -- because:

1. She wanted more dancers en pointe for her annual show

2. She wanted to keep them dancing with her

3. WHO KNOWS!

 

If students asked to start pointe, they were usually allowed to. This teacher only teaches adult recreational dancers.

 

She never asked a student to take off the shoes or anything of the sort, even if it was that student's first class in YEARS. She also would tell them that it would make them stronger -- and their first pointe classes would involve releves on one foot in center. In a situation like this, how is the student supposed to be able to fully critique the self, especially if the supposed 'expert' is telling them they are ready? (And the expert is recommending shoes... when she knows NOTHING about pointe shoes... but that's another topic).

 

Don't get me started -- but I've learned the hard way that not all teachers are created equally, and that a good dancer does not a good teacher make. I'm glad I learned that -- after moving, I 'tested' a few studios, and while the one I go to is not the closest/most convenient for me, it is definitely the best studio for me.

 

Sorry -- rant over! :)

Share this post


Link to post
luceroblanco

First off, I have never had any interest in doing pointe, and do not have the body/feet to do pointe. And it doesn't bother me. Speaking with some of my adult ballet friends, I think a lot of women in their late 20s and beyond had dreams of dancing and they now feel like they are able to fulfill that dream even if they will not perform. For some of them it is through pointe, even if they are obviously not ready or appropriate (feet, body, technique) for it. It's both the fault of some students and some teachers, who encourage it in order to have more students (and therefore money).

 

I think that it doesn't have to be this way, if at some places teachers would get a little more creative about ballet and how and what is taught to adults. On pointe seems to be where you "dance" in ballet as a professional if you are a woman. There are not that many things you can do in ballet as a woman if you are a professional who cannot do pointe. You eventually have to switch to another form of dance. I believe that this does not have to be the case for adult recreational ballet. I think that rather than focus on getting "on pointe" as the goal for a female dancer, because that's what it would be for a professional since mostly all dancing for women is on pointe, that adult recreational studios should try incorporating more classes in variations and choreography (in which adults would be choreorgraphed on and make up the dances--in all cases in flats). This would broaden the goals from getting on pointe to include dancing more complex choreography or your own choreography in flats.

Share this post


Link to post
lilcris

Thanks everyone for that insight. Looking back at the thread that sparked this question, I noticed that most of the respondents were in their mid-teens through their early twenties. I wonder if certain studios push teens into pointe so they can catch up with others their age.

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×