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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Age and/or Readiness for Pointe


Guest dima

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Good for you, Jaynny! :( You've kept your eyes open for trouble and don't have "parent blinders" on when it comes to technical problems in your child. A vigiliant attitude like this will help everybody involved! :angry:

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I'm with you Victoria! In my daughter's case although she was seemingly technically ready at the time, she wasn't. About two months up, she developed a sickle because she was trying to compensate for her lack of strength. For the past 8 months she's worked diligently with the stretch band and other foot strengthening exercises. Over this past year we've had countless pointe shoe fittings to find the right fit. Now, everthing is finally clicking. I know it has to do with her developement. Most of her 13 and 14 year old comrads are at a point level above her.

That is exactly my point! During my DD's pointe fitting the possibility of an ankle sickling was mentioned and how it is common in dancers who are physically NOT ready for pointe! After observing her pointe class last week I was introduced to what this "sickling" is. The younger dancers had this problem whereas the older ones seemed stronger and more able to rise on pointe smoothly. The teacher DID NOT appear to notice this.

 

I feel that the parent is pushing for pointe in this case and my concern over my DD readiness now has moved to....IS SHE AT THE RIGHT SCHOOL PERIOD!?!

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Dima- Are there any professional schools in your area? NBS? If your daughter is serious about Ballet you would eventually be moving to a different school in the future anyway. It is easier to learn how to do things correctly the first time. Your Dd is at an excellent age to make the transition to a different school (technique and socially!)

 

It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of "being on Pointe" and to disregard the long term physical implications on a dancers body. These are the feet and bodies that our children are going to the the rest of their lives!

 

We moved our DD to a pro school this year. DD was orginally concerned because the amount of pointe work was less than she had done at the "Dolly Dinkle" studio.

However as stated by Victoria Leigh-the girls in her new class are very strong on Pointe because the technique is there. They don't spend needless hours on Pointe and have a much better result.

 

You also mentioned that your DD had prepared herself for the "pain and suffering that Pointe work brings". Correct me if I am wrong here but pain and suffering should not really be a part of Pointe when it is taught correctly (shoes fitted properly, technique is there, classes are age/ability appropriate)

 

It never hurts to get a second opinion and to look into other options for your DD.

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Dima, if you go back to page one of this topic I think you will find that I started recommending a change of school immediately upon hearing that she is in a competition school. Everything you have said points to the very likely fact that this school is not the best in your area in terms of ballet. :blushing:

 

And you are right, LRS, pain and suffering are not synonymous with pointe work if the student is ready and technically qualified, with very good training in both quality and quantity, and has the right facility. For someone without these things, it would not be surprising to find pain and suffering. All dancers, or most, will have some blisters at one time or another, however this is often caused by ill-fitting shoes, or perhaps too much or more pointe work than the student is used to doing at one time. Other than that, there really should not be pain.

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Once again, THANK YOU :thumbsup: . We do, indeed, have a "professional" school here that my DD COULD audition for. We must assume that SHE wishes to concentrate on ballet and also assume that she has the confidence to apply :blushing: . Right now I don't think she has either as she constantly feels that she...well....sucks! (sorry, her words)

 

As for the pain and suffering. :blushing: Forgive me, but that is just ignorance talking. Pointe has alot of bad press attahced to it. We have (DD and myself) watched movies that involved pointe work and the filmakers are quick to show the foot in a bloody and bruised condition! This may not be the case but it certainly has scared her somewhat.

 

I have advised her, over and over, to listen carefully, watch intently and to NOT try anything that has not been taught in class. I told her that if she wants to continue taking pointe that she must make sure that she DOES not do anything that would endager her physical health. In other words don't do anything foolish.

 

It is sad that the instructor has not spoken directly to the parents on this issue. The pointe invitations were given out in class and not even discreetly! :thumbsup:

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Good for you, Jaynny! :blushing: You've kept your eyes open for trouble and don't have "parent blinders" on when it comes to technical problems in your child. A vigiliant attitude like this will help everybody involved! :thumbsup:

I, too, applaude your "vigiliant attitude"! :blushing:

 

I only wish more parents were like this. I am constantly awed by how many feel that their child's abilities far surpass those around them and push for them to advance far faster than necessary! :thumbsup:

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That was my...uh...point exactly, dima! I'm glad that you have the option to upgrade the quality of instruction that your daughter receives, and it is very important that the best be sought. I have always had an admiration for the Canadian point of view and the clear vision and commonsense that exists there. I now see one more example of these qualities. My own teacher had a way of being discreet about notifying students that they were nearly ready for pointe. She would give many corrections with practically a whisper in the ear, no matter what the matter was. With 11-13s of a certain proficiency, she would whisper, "Time to cut the elastics off and go to ribbons." That quietly signalled the transition to pointe. The next was, "start wearing Capezio Russian Ballet shoes," a kind that aren't made any more. The sole was made of the same sort of leather as the pointe shoe, and they made your feet work harder. Eventually, she would quietly prompt individuals to get their first pointe shoes, and begin fifteen minutes at the end of the class of pointe work, alternating with work for the other students. Gradually, systematically, she brought practically everybody up to speed, leaving out only those students who were plainly unable to continue to pointe (a minority). She was a good teacher.

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That brings up another topic altogether! The quality of teaching, in some cases, has seriously taken a turn for the worse. Where that statement is not ALWAYS true it is more common today that in the past!

 

I will be sure to keep a close watch on the pointe class and if I don't like what I see then my DD will have to make a major decision about her ballet "career".

 

:grinning:

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I can't speak for Canada as a whole, but at least in the US, the "ballet boom" of the latter part of the last century seems to have resulted in some better teachers, and more informed parents to spot the phonies. But, as has been noted in another context, "The poor you will always have with you."

 

My only regular contact with Canadian dance schools is in the Leeds/Grenville Counties area of Ontario and environs. I must say that I get surprises when I see places more than able to support a quality ballet school and there's nothing. On the other hand, places that are hardly more than a wide place in the road may have an excellent place to study! Part of the continuing paradox of the Thousand Islands area, I guess! :grinning:

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I had the same questions about my daughter starting pointe as she went on placement auditions for this current year. One school would have placed her on pointe this year, one wouldn't. (She's 11 this school year). I sought advice from Ms. Leigh and she recommended the more cautious school that would delay pointe. My daughter is there (Boston Ballet School). She loves it and finds the classes very challenging. Her friends at academic school all attend the hometown dance school and they all pretty much go on pointe in the 5th grade with 2x/week ballet class. She understands the benefits of waiting and is looking forward to when she is ready to go on pointe. I give the kids who understand the meaning of "training" a lot of credit.

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Georgia (and others) -- a school where my daughter (10) took summer seminar, the director, hoping to entice her to attend that school in the fall, offered to put her up a level, and on pointe this year. Arrgh! Although the guest teachers there were great, and she learned a lot, the attitude of the director/owner -- her financial bottom line over a dancer's readiness and safety -- worried me. We're back at the prepro school she attended before summer, where she'll need to move to the next level before they do the full physical eval for pointe readiness. Of course, my daughter would love to be on pointe...but then I asked her to name her favorite adult ballerinas. After she did this, I asked her to tell me exactly at what age they first went on pointe. Gee...that suddenly became a non-issue. When it's our kids' feet and potential futures we're looking at, and when one learns that bones, muscles and neurology aren't as ready as they will be, I'm all for waiting! msd

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These posts remind me again about how valuable this board is. My dd is 14 and not yet on pointe. Her teacher has told her that, with appropriate exercises (to increase the flexibility in her ankles, among other things), she may be ready for pointe next year. I was worried that she was getting "too old" to do it, but these posts made me realize that older may in fact be better - my dd was slow to mature, which could account for her lack of readiness.

 

Thank you again! :D

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It sounds like your DD is in the right place! It is so refreshing to hear that there are STILL places out there that carefully consider each dancer as individuals instead of using one dancer as a "yardstick".

 

Now if we can only get parents on board with this! :D

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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 must go back to this post Victoria and ask you to clarify.

 

Is having flat feet a no-no?

 

I have talked to her podiatrist who says that, even though she has flat feet, she can do pointe work. He is connected with the NB of C and works closely with the dancers there. I have asked his opinion and he says she has strong feet and that pointe is okay. Am I being led down the "garden path"? He is working with her with orthodics and there IS improvement.

:)

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Dima, I'm not a doctor, so, if the doctor says it's okay, I suppose it is. I just don't put anyone with flat feet on pointe. They usually cannot get all the way up on the top of the shoe, and it can be very frustrating, as well as not very pretty to look at. If it does not cause damage, ultimately, that would surprise me, however, as I said, I don't have a medical degree. Have you read the "Sticky" entitled Facts of Life about Pointe Work? It's on the Pointe Shoe Forum and the Young Dancers' forum. I thought it was on Moms and Dads too, but maybe not.....

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