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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Bone Ossification for pointe


Siegelife

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At my dd's school pointe starts after 10 when the teacher feels the student is ready. I'm wondering if you just trust the teacher or if, in fact, you should have the feet x-rayed? I took my dd to her doctor and he stated that he had to research it before he'd order an x-ray. He contacted me later and said that he wasn't going to do the x-ray just on the 'ballet' basis. Plus, I'm wondering, if you should trust the doctor's advice as well if you find one to do an x-ray since they will be speaking to you from a medical point of view and tell you that pointe is damaging anyway no matter what! Do you have to go to a specialist or is the x-ray really not as needed as people think? If the teacher says ok, dd is ready for pointe-do you say 'no' if the bones aren't ossified up to 75%? :)

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Knock knock not a mother but a dancer:

 

IMHO if I was mother of a DD I would not allow her teacher to put her on pointe before she reached the age of 11 1/2 regardless of how talented or advanced she already was.

 

Physicians who do not normally treat dancers are a difficult thing to handle. I met one once who when I told him I was a dancer immediately advised me to stop dancing since from a medical point of view it is the worst thing you could do to your body. He came up with I was so young, healthy and beautiful and ballet would destroy all my features. :D:):) Crazy, eh?

If ballet technique is taught correctly and shoes fit you can expect none or just minor damage from dancing and pointe work.

 

However it is a set rule that a child should not be put on pointe before the age of 11 1/2 or earliest 11 since in no case before that age the bones are ossified enough yet to prevent the child from getting permanent foot damage. Sure there are cases where kids were put on pointe at the age of 9 or 10 and they did not suffer much damage but it really is the minority.

Unfortunately not all professional schools do stick to that 11- 11 1/2 rule - many just want to create child prodigies which in ballet in my opinion is not healthy since you cannot do certain things without taking a high risk if the body is not ready enough yet.

 

I want to wait for the moderators opinion but I personally would noone let my child put on pointe before the age of 11 1/2.

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Which school wants to put your dd on Pointe after 10? The current one or the new one? When deciding what school to place your dancer in this is a very important factor.

 

There have been many extensive discussions on this topic at Ballet Alert. Use the search option and look under Pointe readiness.

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Dear Siegelife,

 

Okay, I am about to pass on something which seems to be completely controversial on this board, or anywhere else, for that matter. I spoke to one of the most respected, eminent ballet orthopedic doctors in the world about this issue. He has been around so long and worked with so many amazing dancers that people may dismiss what I am about to say as the ravings of someone way past his medical prime, out of the loop, whatever. BUT:

 

He said that in 25 years of working with/treating ballet dancers, he has never (big word!) found a correlation between foot problems and the age the dancer went on pointe. He has seen many, many dancers who went on pointe early and had no problems, and equally many who went on later and had lots of problems. He didn't say so explicitly, I don't think, but my impression was that he thinks many problems are due to genetic predisposition, and come out under the obvious pressure of being on pointe (where the foot is not meant to be) to begin with, and also depends on the structure of the particular foot, some structures being better than others for dancing on pointe (he talked about the "Peasant" foot, for eg, and extraordinary arches/insteps as not always being the best, as they are prone to weakness and injury).

 

He does not believe in using exrays, because their effects are cumulative. However, he DID say he doesn't believe in putting kids up early, but mostly because, as the old Balanchine saw goes, "What are they going to do when they get up there?", and said waiting as long as possible was a pretty obvious best, safest choice. However, assuming that a child is sufficiently advanced technically, properly aligned, and strong enough in knees, ankles, feet, and is being supervised by good teachers in a good school (ah! there's the rub!) where the pointe training will be given in appropriately slow, steady stages, developing the feet and ankles properly, he does not think age, per say, is the issue. He thought if the school is a really good one (again, that seems to me to be the qualification worth paying attention to), let them make the decision.

 

I can hear people exploding in outrage all over the US, but I'm just throwing this into the mix.

 

:sweating::):unsure::wacko::blushing::speechless::mondieu::shrug::)

 

why isn't there an emoticon for "cringe"?

 

mcrm

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mcrm,

 

I am glad to hear your input. This board is constantly preaching certain ages that are appropriate for pointe, when in fact there is no one age. Each dancer is different. My daughter was 2 weeks before her 10th birthday when she went on pointe. The school had her checked out by an ortho, a PT and a chiropracter, all who work on dancers. My daughter came out of the exam and they told me she was one of the strongest of the bunch, albeit the youngest. She had the technique and her studio starts out very slowly on pointe. She is now about to turn 12 and doing beautifully. She has had no foot problems, not even blisters. Although we do go for pointe shoe fittings on a regular basis to accomodate growing feet. Proper fit has a lot to do with problems on pointe. Anyway, I think it is a decision to be made on a case by case basis, not but some generic age rule. Just my opinion! :)

 

Maine Ballet

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There is no one calendar age that's right, but there is a skeletal development age, which according to the late Celia Sparger, was 11.5 years. This amount of development is reached when the ends of the toes are completely ossified. The rest of the structures are still in flux until about age 25, but safety starts at 11.5. Now, Sparger was gathering her data through the thirties and forties, and the calendar age at which this point is reached may have decreased over time, but on the whole, only the pediatrician knows for sure! mcrm's doctor is right. Whatever the reason, it's better to wait, and there are all sorts of criteria for readiness for pointe besides skeletal development age.

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LRS-Current studio they start at 10-depending on strength. Watching the some of the girls there you can tell they just started pointe. New studio I heard she can start as early as 8!! However, the girls I've seen, who are young, look very strong at the barre.

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Not to pile on to the controversy, but my daughter went up early, before I found this board. I knew nothing about ballet and trusted the AD. After finding and reading this board, I took DD to an orthopedist who said almost word for word

 

problems are due to genetic predisposition, and come out under the obvious pressure of being on pointe (where the foot is not meant to be) to begin with, and also depends on the structure of the particular foot, some structures being better than others for dancing on pointe
.

 

He did xray her feet, as I had requested a complete exam. However, even at her young age, his advise was to "keep doing what she's doing. Everything looks fine."

 

Now I have to say, I worry all the time about the lasting effects of intensive ballet training, but at this point, we're just moving forward on faith...

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AsleepATheWheel

Oh gosh, sorry, I just have to comment here, I really think that 8 years old is too young for pointe. I think that I would have to question the logic of the powers that be at the new school if they are putting 8 year olds on pointe, no matter how strong they are. How much technique could they have at that age? Let 8 year olds be 8 year olds. There are enough challenges in ballet slippers at that age, ack. :o

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My dd's teacher gave her the OK to start pointe work at 10.5 years old (she was strong in technique and had the recommended training time). After a terrible pointe shoe fitting and after reading this board, my dd and I decided to stop the pointe classes after a couple weeks and wait 6 more months until she turned 11. DD's teacher was very understanding and supportive. When she turned 11 I found a reputable pointe shoe fitter and then I took her to a podiatrist (dd is predisposed to bunions). Doctors obviously differ in opinion - this doctor told me no less than 4 times that 11 years old was too young to start pointe - she recommended 12 years old. She ordered x-rays and then, after reading the x-rays at our second visit, she completely changed her mind and gave the go ahead for pointe work. She said dd was an "older" 11 year old and that the bones in her toes were nearly completely fused and everything looked great.

 

Siegelife, it may be worth it to find a podiatrist for your dd. I'm so glad I had the x-rays taken as it has given me a peace of mind. Also, if dd needs to see the podiatrist for any reason in the future, her records and x-rays are on file for comparison.

 

Best wishes!

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Thanks for soo much info. I guess when the time comes I'll weight everything. I do believe 8 is too young too. Can't possibly train enough by that age. Not in a rush, trust me.

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I hope it is OK to add my opinion, I am an R.N. and ask a million questions all the time. My daughter is 17 but I had a long conversation with both the podiatrist and the pediatrician last year. The age when girls begin their period keeps dropping in the US. There was a time when a 7 year old that was developing was considered be abnormal and steps were taken to reverse the hormonal development. This is now no longer advised. With earlier puberty, the female skeleton, IN SOME CASES, is "older" or more like the skeleton of girls that are older simply because Americans are developing faster. This goes along with being taller etc.

 

It is scary to me....I don't know of many little girls that can handle the changes that their bodies are throwing them so adding to those changes the pressure of pointe work with all that pointe demands, in my opinion, is not the best plan. I am glad that we have, so far, weathered the hormonal storms of puberty and now are just trying to stay "regular" and maintain bone density.

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RUBIRAVEN-Good point! Actually, my daughter is one of those early bloomers. She is already developing......everything. The doctor asked years ago about her due to her having a lot of body hair. Ok, way off subject now.....just showing that girls are maturing faster now. However, as far as bones? Just be careful I guess.

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According to the GYN, estrogen is what maintains bone density and the biggest problem for dancers is that with the body fat ratio getting messed up, the "evidence" of puberty will start to reverse and bones will become more porous. That is why we are trying to make sure that that doesn't happen at our house. With early hormones, bones will grow and mature faster. Your early bloomer might have strong enough bones for pointe but still need to have time to develop artistry. My never ending song is that dance is not a circus trick and that the most simple movement, even in technique shoes can melt your heart if done with heart. That is the missing factor in my opinion and the reason to NOT rush even if the skeleton is strong enough.

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