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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Adults on Pointe


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This is partly a vent. I am really tired of people looking down on us doing this because of our age- in particular a few students in my adult classes where I dance. There is one lady in particular who used to make snide comments about the adults "trying to do pointe". She is someone who was lucky enough to have danced all her life( her mother was the director of a regional dance company) and I saw her last week for the first time in ages. We both took the intermediate/ advanced class which was mostly teenagers ( all teens doing pointe except me) and as she left class while I was putting on my shoes she said"What are you doing with those things?" I just said she got to do it when she was younger, and I didn't, so I am doing it now. I hope she understands how lucky she was. i amy not be able to fly across the room doing pique turns and end in a perfect arabesque on balance like the kids, but I can do slow piques and pique turns and sometimes end in arabesque on balance!!!

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Your fellow "adult" student sounds not only mean but insecure, too.

In my experience (not just in dance, but in other fields as well)

most of the really really talented folks are secure in their sense of themselves

and their abilities, and this allows them to be generous and patient with beginners,

non-traditional students like you or me, and those less talented or less

well trained than they are.

 

It's so cool that you're on pointe, and even more that you're dancing at any age,

Onyx, and that you had the courage and determination to take up something new.

I doubt your classmate understands how lucky she was, or much of anything else!

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In my experience, many people who oppose to adults on pointe are folks who don't have clear concepts of who should be on pointe and who should not.

 

In my opinion, it's not whether you are adult or teen, it's about whether you have the technique and the attitude. Ms Leigh's "facts of life about pointe work" should be distributed carved into stone and put on display in every ballet school on Earth. :)

 

Including my own. :blushing:

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Onyx, I must agree with you! I have been told by numerous occasions by a woman in my class "I don't know why you even bother with pointe, it's not like you are going to have a ballet career at your age." And I'm only 23! And no, I will not have a career as a professional dancer, on pointe or not, but I will have a lifetime of enjoyment while I continue to challenge myself in exploring different aspects of dance. Pointe for me was a natural progression in my training, just as it is for dancers who started at 10 years old.

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There's probably also the fact that when in wrong shoes and/or with not enough basic technique, pointe apparently hurts. And not only like the occasional blister, but really hurts. Possibly some of these "why do you bother" people are those who have bad experiences of pointe and don't understand how pointe work could be fun of itself, not only as a goal?

 

Digressing a bit, another thing about pointe that annoys me is those "war stories", when people tell about how horrible and painful pointe is for them as if they were proud of it, as if it wouldn't be real pointe work at all if it doesn't hurt like hell.

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You've hit a complicated issue. Apparently, all young girls --- and beginning adult students --- want to dance en pointe. "How long until I get to go en pointe" is one of the most common questions asked by beginning students. At the same time, professional dancers are usally fairly jaded about the whole ordeal. Pointe shoes are expensive, they can be painful (in different ways, depending on your skill level), and they're generally a pain to carry around and manage. Underneath the jaded-ness, most professional ballet dancers I know still value and appreciate pointe work in ways not so different from how they felt about it as young girls. So it's mixed feelings. Those who simply HATE pointe shoes from heel to toe move to modern dance.

 

My experience watching adult students en pointe is that far too often, they simply are not ready and are therefore taking unnecessary risks.

 

War stories are what dance is made of. As soon as the lights go down on a performance, war stories are all we have left to remember the experience.

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Citybob, I am sorry, I was unclear... I don't object to war stories as such; I object to the particular kind of war story where people seem to be proud about having danced for years in completely wrong shoes for them and having had stress fractures out of wrong kind of work and stuff like that. It's similar to the phenomenon where people claim that they are very bad at math or never could learn a foreign language in a tone of voice that sounds as if they are proud of the fact, not sad - one of my pet peeves.

 

You don't usually hear this kind from professionals, but from students that never became professionals, though.

 

As for going to pointe - when I started ballet classes as an adult, I didn't understand what the fuss about being on pointe was about. I'm glad that I've started beginner pointe, since I enjoy it a lot, but I still really don't understand the recreational dancers that take pointe even when they hate it, just because it's "the thing to do".

 

When it comes to lots of adult students being on pointe without the technique etc, this is unfortunately true. However, I doubt it has anything to do with them being adults, and very much to do with the fact that very good schools rarely teach adult beginners. It seems to me that in most cases if you'd look at the recreational kid classes of the schools of these adults, you'd see the same problems there (at least this seems to be the case in Finland).

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You hit the nail on the head when you said that a lot of good schools don't teach beginner pointe to adults. That is one of my pet peeves - I was lucky enough to have a year of beginner pointe with a very good teacher, but then the director of the school took the class away from him and the other teachers didn't want to bother with it, either because they thought it was a waste of time for adults or the class ran too late( the adult classes are always the last ones of the day and run from 8:15 or 8:30 till 10:o'clock).

I now have two teachers who don't mind the beginner adult pointe classes, the only thing being, since the classes are so late already, we only get 15 minutes, altho one doesn't mind staying later. The other classes with pointe I have to take are the regular teen classes and while I can keep up in stuff like echappes and passe releve, pas de bourre, etc. I am not proficient at turns and have to either do them slower, or just releve. WE are working on them in the adult classes, tho., so I look at it as a challenge. If you are in this position as an adult, I think you just have to know when you have to take something down a notch yourself. Usually the teacher doesn't mind.

AsatNYU_ I can't believe that that person thought you were too old for pointe at 23! You are a baby!- most of the adults in my classes are late 30-s to mid 50-( even 60!!!).(I'm 51).

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Guest mic31

Whenever you try anything in life there is always somebody willing to be the detractor, usually because it takes away their excuses. Some call it crab pot syndrome. :wink:

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A big problem with pointe and adults is discipline. You can tell children "no, you are not ready for this class" and they will accept it. But as soon as you make an "open adult" pointe class, it becomes hard to keep out the students who really shouldn't be there --- especially because that might leave so few who should be there.

 

A school considering pointe classes for adults might decide it's better just to avoid the whole mess and simply not offer it. One does not wish to upset one's customers. And if there's a student who is really interested and also ready --- then quietly invite her to join a teen class.

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Guest dyingswan

Onyx, I just wanted to say that I'm thrilled to see you enjoying pointe at your age and hope you don't hear what others have to say. Your having fun and that's all that matters. I hope I can still be on pointe then and look up to you as an inspiration. I've wanted to be a professional, but just glad I still have a love for ballet, I couldn't see myself giving it up at any age :sweating:

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I JUST LOVE the reactions I get from other people my age when I tell them I'm taking ballet.

 

I love it more when I tell them I'm also learning pointe.

The first blurt of words is ALWAYS "but doesn't that hurt?"

 

If you get an ex ballet person, they stare in amazement, think a moment,

then say - maybe I should start classes again.

 

GO FOR IT life is too short.

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Citibob, that's possibly the motivation of many schools not to offer pointe classes, but I must admit I don't get it. You cannot tell an adult they can't take a certain class? Of course you can. Naturally, some of them will get upset - but so will some kids and, more relevantly, parents of kids when you tell them the same. A good school grades people by ability, and doesn't let people on pointe when they are not ready. I'd like to believe that if parents of dancing kids can be educated about this, adult dancers can too. I don't think we are, on the average, more unreasonable.

 

In fact, I feel that it is kind of unfair to offer adults "open classes", not tell them when they are ouf of their depth, and then blame them when they take the open classes even if they should not. That's keeping information from then and then expecting them to act on it. How are they supposed to know they are not ready for the class if they are not told it? Not everyone can judge their own level correctly - in my experience, probably most people can't.

 

However, my main point above was not about why some schools don't offer pointe for adults, it was that in my experience in some schools were adults are on pointe before they should be, also kids are on pointe before they should be - so it is not a question of the adult classes being taught this or that way, it's a question of the policy of the school in general.

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Thanks, everyone , for all your support.

Janaa- i agree wiht you that adults are not that unreasonable if they are told they can't do it - when our class started, a few women were told no by the director, but elected to take the class on flat to build up strength so that eventually they might be able to take it.

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My adult ballet class just got told our probable levels for next term by our teacher a few weeks back (probable since this term is still on and then there's the summer and so things might happen and the levels change a bit). While some people were disappointed and one or two even shocked when not advanced to the next level, none were angry with the school, and none have stopped taking classes because of this. Some people even have started to work harder, realizing that they won't advance with the commitment they've been giving.

 

It's clearly spelled out in the rules of the school that teachers give students their levels. While the adult scene is kind of relaxed about this, everybody knows this is the case. Maybe it stops some people taking classes with the school, but there are still enough adults to fill several daily classes on different levels, and I suppose we who come are better off without the ones that are repelled by the idea.

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