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Age and/or Readiness for Pointe


Guest dima

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Thanks!

 

I spoke to her Doctor again and he said that right now it is fine for her to do pointe work because she isn't concentrating on that element. Her "lessons" have just started. He believes that if she continues to work with him and doesn't push herself too much she should develop an "arch". His outlook is that we started early!

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Guest balletandsynchro

Sometimes I think the girls take the pointe/no pointe issue as bragging rights. My Dd went on pointe at age 11, while one of her friends (at a different studio) went on pointe at age 9 1/2. My daughter was crushed! She thought that the other girl was lucky/better/etc... However, once dd did start pointe, her pointe was at the same level as the girl who had started a year and a half earlier!

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And the girl who started at 9½ may end up with problems down the line. Better to wait until the physique and the technique are totally ready.

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The key is excellent training. If you don't know how to tell if your child is receiving excellent training then don't let them put your child on pointe until you have educated yourself. Read everything you can on Pointe work.

 

Observe other students at the school who are already on pointe. They should be able to execute the technical requirements with ease and control. If they can't, take your child and run fast!

 

As a parent I would much rather see clean technique, lovely lines, artistry and musicality performed on demi-pointe or even flat than to see students struggling on pointe. With a beautiful dancer you barely notice the feet so who cares if they are on pointe. It is the whole package we see and it should look effortless.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Guest lindendale

I'm a little late on this, but this entire discussion has been very enlightening. Just before the Christmas break my daughter's teacher said that she and a number of other girls, all about 11, were ready to go on pointe. Because it's a group that has danced together for years, they were all thrilled. But I'm concerned that my daughter may not be ready; her technique is wonderful, but she's just turning 11 in January and is still well before puberty. So I've decided to take her to a doctor of sports medicine to get her opinion. We're going tomorrow, so I'll post what she says on the issue. Thanks to all who've taken the time to share their experiences.

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:)

I eagerly await your information. I have, obviously, stressed about this subject and would like a second, professional, opinion from a source outisde the ballet world.

 

Thanks for your input! :wink:

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Guest lindendale

Okay, now I've taken my DD to the sports medicine doctor and had a very good (reassuring) experience, which I'll share with you.

 

First of all, sports medicine is part of pediatric orthopedics in our hospital, and the sports medicine doctor was very familiar with dancers' physical challenges. She first examined DD for symmetry, looking at how she stood, how her legs were shaped, back, shoulders, etc. All looked even, no problems or asymmetries spotted.

 

Then she bent a lot of joints to see about flexibility, explaining that too much flexibility -- loose joints -- could actually be a problem that a dancer would need to be aware of and compensate for. In DD's case she had good but not too much flexibility -- except in her big toes, both feet, which were extremely flexible, bending back way farther than most people's. The doctor said this was somthing she should be aware of and gave her a toe-strengthening exercise to do; she also recommended always bandaging the first two toes when on pointe and making sure the person fitting her for shoes knows about this. (Who would have guessed? This is the type of knowledge I was looking for.)

 

Finally she said that while DD's body looked age-appropriate and therefore ready to go on pointe, she wanted to see if her "bone age" was the same as her body age, which is just turning 11. If the bone age is younger than the body age, it would be advisable to wait before going on point. Assessing bone age involved taking an X-ray of her hand. Got the results two days later: her bone age is 11 & 1/2, give or take a few months. So all physical indications are that she's ready to start going on pointe.

 

I am reassured, DD is delighted, and we are both a lot more knowledgeable than we would have been if we had just gone with the teacher's recommendation of her "being ready." So when the time comes to consider pointe readiness, parents might want to have a sports medicine doctor check their daughter's physical readiness. Our experience -- not just the happy outcome but the thorough exam -- was very good indeed.

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Just for the sake of reference, 11.5 years is the developmental crossroad that has to be crossed in order to make pointe safe, all other factors of training, strength and body structure having been met.

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  • 1 month later...

While reading these posts, I have had a surge of the emotions that I felt 2 years ago when my dd was first told she was ready for Pointe. My dd has done very well since beginning ballet at 6 years old. She is now 12. She has been blessed with excellent training from the get go, thus no bad habits have been formed (or if she has tried - they have been on top of them) She has also been blessed with a focus and dedication that most can only dream of. She is a petite young lady (must I mention that her father and I are far from the petite factor) and has only just begun the initial stages of puberty. I questioned the decision of moving her en pointe, so much so that I had x-rays taken and she saw an orthopedic specialist (specializing in ballet). After much debate (mostly from me) it was determined that she definitely had the strength and placement to withstand Pointe work, even though she had not gone through puberty. She has moved through the paces very slowly and has done very well. My dd is not a dare devil, so to speak, and is known for not compromising technique in order to accomplish any certain move. I have said all along that if I see any signs of foot trouble, Pointe will be the first thing to go. I hope it doesn't appear too late, but I also feel my husband and I really did our homework before we allowed the first purchase of pointe shoes and we have felt comfortable with our decision. Hope this helps! It is so individual to each dancer and so much needs to be taken into consideration - certainly not anything to be taken lightly!

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Hello pointe2perfection, welcome to the Moms and Dads forum here on Ballet Talk for Dancers :wink:

 

It sounds like you did all that was necessary to learn whether your daughter was ready for pointe or not, and it's great that she is doing so well! There are many factors involved in this decision, and of course it is quite individual. The age factor is important, however, everyone grows at a different rate, and the overall strength and, most importantly the technique, must be considered as well. So many children are not in schools with the quality or quantity of training to properly prepare them for pointe at any age, much less a younger than usual age, so, your daughter is evidently quite fortunate. :thumbsup:

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Guest musicality

I wish I had performed more research prior to my daughter taking point. She started at 10 for only a half hour lesson. Yes, the teacher said it was really just 10 minutes per week. Unfortunately at that age her foot was still growing and we were buying shoes regularly trying to keep up with her growth and yet never really breaking in a pair. At 12 she sprained her ankle badly and I discovered her growth plate at this point was still very much open. She was recommended to a longer class for pointe at this age as well. But due to her sprain, I had her rest for almost 9 months. This perhaps was a blessing in disquise. At 14, she actually went through her first point shoe due to dancing not growth.

 

I have noticed she has problems getting on the tops when first breaking them in. Her knees are hyperextended, legs are slightly bowed, and she does not have a "banana foot". Should this type of combination even be on pointe. How does one straighten the knee and get over the shoe? :wink:

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Hello musicality, and welcome to the Moms and Dads forum here on Ballet Talk for Dancers! :wink:

 

If you open the Moms and Dads board, at the top is a list of "Sticky" posts. There is one entitled Facts of Life About Pointe Work. I think that might help you.

 

The legs and feet you describe can be a problem, especially the feet. However, you said she is hyperextended, but also asked about straightening the knees. It sounds to me like perhaps she is hypOextended? If the knees do not straighten when she on pointe, and she can't get on the top of the shoe, it is possible that she really should not be dancing on pointe. However, this cannot be determined here, and ultimately one must trust the teacher. Is she in a school where they focus on ballet, and have a reputation for developing classical dancers? Do the students take several classes a week, for at least an hour and a half each, prior to going on pointe? At 14, how many hours a week of ballet does she have? Has she auditioned for and/or attended any SI programs yet?

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Thank you Ms. Leigh! I have really enjoyed reading through all the wonderful posts. It is a parent's human nature I think to worry about our kids and we never know if we are making the right choices. We can only investigate to the best of our ability and know we have received as much information that we can. My husband and I might find out in the future that maybe we didn't make the right choice, but we did the best that we could at the time having had no background ourselves, using the resources we could find, and ultimately putting our trust in our dd teacher. Time will tell.

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Guest musicality

Let me see if I can explain. When she is standing flat her legs bow back toward her heels. From reading past posts, I believe she is "locking back". I've explained to her that this is not appropriate, but do children listen to their parents all the time?

 

Her teacher at one point asked her not to lock back so that her leg would appear to be straight. My daughter had a very difficult time with this concept and her teacher did not stay on top of this, so it was easy to fall back to her original stance. The teacher has had 2 students enter Boston Ballet's year round program in the past few years. She also only teaches ballet.

 

My dd takes 3-4 technique classes a week, one 2 hours long, and the others are 1 1/2 hrs. Her pointe class which was an hour is presently on the back burner while they concentrate on their exams. She also is involved in dance at her school every other day for an hour and once a week for 1 1/2 hr. They mostly do alot of stretching and pilates during school and practice routines that are generally ballet, some jazz.

 

She is just becoming interested in auditioning for SI's (she has danced at different local studios during past summers). Last summer she was turned down at one audition. She is planning on auditioning for NCSA, Washington, and AAB. She missed Rock's due to illness.

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  • Administrators

It does sound like hyperextension. If so, the teacher needs to stay on it for a long time to help her learn to control it. She has to understand HOW to stand without pushing back into the hyperextension. Please introduce yourself to me at the Washington audition, and I will have a look during the class and see what she is doing.

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