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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Age and/or Readiness for Pointe


Guest dima

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:D Hmmm, I can't seem to get a straight answer on this one so can anyone out there help me?

 

My daughter, has recommended for pointe classes at our studio. I have checked with various Doctor's and they all say the same thing. Age is an important factor when it comes to pointe readiness and should be considered over and above technical readiness. Dancers who are not developed (bones/muscles/mental health and puberty) should not go on pointe. It is recommended that a dancer under the age of 12-13 put off pointe until their body has developed further.

 

Am I getting the right information? Is a recommendation to a 10 year old not advisable?

 

Any answers? :blink:

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dima,

 

My daughter went on pointe a few weeks before her 10th birthday. She had been taking class 3-4 days a week for a year prior to the decision. Our school brought in the company doctors to check our girls for readiness. The school knows if the dancer is technically ready, but it takes a doctor to know if the dancer is physically ready. Each dancer is totally different. Most girls at our studio are 12 or 13 when they start pointe, with a few exceptions. My daughter is doing great and has had no problems. Make sure that she has the right shoes and that they fit for the moment not for the future. Be prepared to buy shoes often as her feet grow. I hope this helps. :D

 

Maine Ballet

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Hello dima, welcome to the Moms and Dads forum here on Ballet Alert! Online :D

 

You are most wise to question this recommendation for a 10 year old to begin point! It is definitely NOT a good idea. :blink:

 

There are many, many things to consider, but bottom line, unless she is MOST unusual, the bones are not ready at that age, plus it is highly unlikely that she has had the amount of training necessary to proceed to pointe work. But the most important thing is that the ossification of the bones in the feet is not sufficient to sustain the weight of the body on pointe at this age. Add this to the fact that she probably does not have sufficient control of her placement and rotation, plus general knowledge of technique, to work safely.

 

Some people will try to justify this by saying "Oh, she will just be in the shoes for 10 minutes at the barre." My answer to that is there is absolutely no reason for this to happen, whether it is 10 minutes or 10 hours, barre or center. Wait until the student is SO ready that pointe work will be much easier and the progress will be much faster. Way too many teachers in this country place students on pointe WAY too early, and this accomplishes nothing and can cause damage.

 

Change schools if her teacher is recommending this, unless this child is a rare exception, with all of the facility and a LOT of training, in a VERY professional school!!!

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Maineballet, I was typing at the time you posted, so did not see it before I posted my response.

 

I'm glad that your daughter is okay, so far, however I really VERY STRONGLY disagree with this practice. There have always been some exceptions, but there have also been a LOT of dancers who had many problems later in life that most likely were due to pointe work too young.

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I must thank you both for your quick responses. I am so glad that I am not just making an issue of things. The school my daughter competes with just hired two new Russian Style ballet teachers and I am leary of them. I have no idea who they are or from where they come (background history). I did not want to go to the director with my concerns until I had some backup information on the subject. I feel ill at ease with starting pointe at this age but unfortunately once a child is told they are ready you can't get it out of their heads.

 

I just hope that I can explain this to my daughter. I don't want her career to be over before it starts!

 

:D

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Dima, if she is serious about a career in ballet, I would very strongly suggest that you find a school that is not a competition school. The amount of ballet training they usually receive in these kinds of schools is totally inadequate and will not qualify her for professional level training.

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Again, thank you for the advice. She is unsure of what avenue to take when it comes to dance because she doesn't have the best feet for ballet in the first place. We are currently seeing an podiatrist for special orthodics to help in this area!

 

I just don't want her to move too quickly into pointe ruining any chance for continuing dance PERIOD!

 

Also, I have found that some parents PUSH for pointe. Should the instructor be intimiated by this?

 

:D

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From a parent's perspective, I can absolutely second Ms. Leigh's advise of waiting. My daughter started pointe in mid-June, a few weeks before she turned 12, and has advanced so quickly she is dancing a pointe solo (Gigue) in Nutcracker with our area's civic ballet company. So, waiting until physically ready will not harm her future as a dancer, and in fact, will hopefully prolong it. :D

 

Edited to add that my daughter is almost fully grown at 12 (being 5'3" with a max of another 2"). Many 12 year olds are not at that stage. She has one dancing friend her age who is 4'8" and will not be starting pointe until she gets much older or further into puberty.

Edited by cricket
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I'm glad that your daughter is okay, so far, however I really VERY STRONGLY disagree with this practice. There have always been some exceptions, but there have also been a LOT of dancers who had many problems later in life that most likely were due to pointe work too young.

Both of my daughter's teachers were put on pointe at age nine, and went on to enjoy professional careers. Unfortunately, both experienced significant foot problems as adults, one of them severe enough to put an end to her dancing at the height of her career as a principal dancer. They are adamant about age and readiness when it comes to placing girls on pointe. They explain to us that they want to train healthy dancers who can enjoy long careers, if they so choose. I think Ms. Leigh's advice is spot-on.

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Dima, if her feet are not good for ballet, then that makes it even more important that she not start pointe too soon!

 

I would like to say again that I think it is important to find the best quality ballet training that you can possibly get her to, and it is most unusual to find that in a competition studio. The reason for that is that most teachers who are really professional ballet teachers could just not tolerate that kind of atmosphere and lack of focus on ballet. Even if she decides to go into other dance forms later on, the quality of the ballet training will still make a huge difference. Don't risk it. Get her to a better school. Between the competitions and the fact that they want to put a 10 year old child, and one without the best feet, on pointe, tells me this is not the school for a serious child.

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Dima,

 

Sounds like both you and your daughter are really thinking things through carefully. Bravo! :)

 

If she is really interested in ballet, I know a number of younger dancers who have taken classes at the NBS Junior Associates program. In fact, I've met a few who were involved with a competition studio and augmented this with the JA program.

 

If memory serves there is an audition for the program sometime in the spring. Ballet classes are offered 1-3 times a week depending on the student's level. Pointe is offered for certain levels, but is not part of the regular ballet class. Don't know if this would be convenient for you in terms of time, location, or $$, but it is an option for those living in and around Toronto.

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Dima, have you tried the National Ballet School?

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That was what I was referring to, just in case I wasn't clear. The National Ballet School has a program for younger dancers called the Junior Associates. It starts with pre-ballet, and progresses through six levels. Students who go through all the levels would complete by about age 12 or 13.

 

These classes are held in the evenings and on Saturdays and are separate from the Professional Division classes....taught by the same faculty though.

 

Hope this helps to clarify. My apologies if I misread the last post.

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No Mom2, it was my failure to realize that the NBS IS the National Ballet School! Sorry about that! :)

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Regarding parents who push for pointe work, I recall one particular mom who was neurotic in this regard. It wasn't just pointe. She insisted her 7 year old take class with my 9-12 group, and the administrator could not reason with the mom, who, by the way, had received very good training growing up herself -- more the reason she should have been more reasonable. The child always looked so miserable, and definitely felt out of place with the older girls. She was a very tiny 7 year old to boot. Regarding pointe, when the mom started pushing for this, the administator told her the gist of what Miss V has said, but she also said that girls generally aren't ready for pointe until they begin developing breasts. (I know, I know, some dancers stay flat forever :) ). But the mom responded, "Well, she's not going to grow breasts on her feet!" That has to be the all time craziest argument for pointe work I've ever heard. :D:wink::sweating:

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