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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Barre exercises en pointe for men?


jimpickles

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In my adult dance class (mostly women, a few men) next year they plan to finish off with about 15 minutes of barre exercises in pointe shoes. The men are being encouraged to do this too. The idea is to strengthen the ankles, feet, and balance, even though we are never going to dance on pointe. I've never done this before, and the strengthening sounds a good idea (I could certainly do with it), but I just wonder what people's views are, since I think there just might be an element of not wanting to leave the men out - and pointe shoes in these large sizes are probably expensive, and wont get a great deal of use overall.

 

Jim.

Edited by jimpickles
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Hi, Jim, and welcome to the group. :P

 

You've hit on what I object to with men studying pointe. It's extra trouble, extra expense, and there is no realistic outlet for what's learned in class. "Strengthening" is just not enough of a reason. There are plenty of ways to strengthen feet besides pointe. Since you already have misgivings, I'd say "don't".

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*knock knock*

I'm glad someone brought this up. One of my son's teachers had mentioned the idea of putting the boys on pointe along side with the girls to strengthen their feet. I had always thought that I was a lucky ballet mom since I didn't have to buy pointe shoes! :P

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When he's making his own money, then he can experiment with pointe, if he wants to.

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Most adult students rarely if ever put what they learn in class on stage, but in spite of that the benefits of studying ballet are frequently cited by adult students. So whatever you do with ballet, you need to figure out a "why" other than career or performance. A recent thread "Pointe --- is it vanity?" also explores this issue with regard to point work. You need to get some benefit out of the time and effort you put into class, and without a professional career, that benefit is ultimately be defined by your personal psyche and goals.

 

Pointe shoes are expensive and take a lot of dedication to find, sew, etc --- witness the number of pointe shoe related posts on this forum. But they're well within affordability for most people, it's not like hang gliding or bungee jumping. Only you can decide whether the experience of barre exercises en pointe vs. not en pointe is worth your effort and money. If you try it and decide it's not worth your effort --- assuming you're with a competent teacher and are technically ready for pointe work --- you'll probably not lose more than $100 and a couple of toenails.

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Thank you everyone for your replies. Thank you Mel Johnson for giving sensible views that echoed my feelings and David G for giving another point of view. I suppose I wanted someone to say "Go for it!" It will be something and new and different, and will give me a whole different set of challenges in coordination, strength and balance (and affect my own body image, with myself up in the air). At least no-one said "yuk! - too much like cross-dressing!". So unless I have lots of problems getting the shoes in my provincial city, I'll give it a go. And if it doesnt work out, at least I will have a set of pointe shoes to remind me of past adventures (and maybe a little paper bag of toenails).

 

Many thanks indeed for your input,

 

Jim.

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OK, too! :)

 

If you really want to, go ahead; I'd say that most men experiment with pointe at some time in their careers. I was just unusually situated to get a role one time that required male pointe work for a Russian character dance part. Unfortunately, the damn show was popular, so I had to dance it over a year! Ouch! :)

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At least no-one said "yuk! - too much like cross-dressing!".

 

The fact is, since you study ballet and wear tights, there are already plenty of people who say that. Studying ballet en pointe won't really make a difference.

 

So unless I have lots of problems getting the shoes in my provincial city, I'll give it a go.

 

Oh, you will. In the states, you'd be best heading to NYC for a fitting. In Australia, you'll have to go to the equivalent.

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I have taken pointe class in technique (soft ballet) shoes in a vain attempt to improve my left foot's relever. After numerous x-rays in the past weeks (inconclusive), and a MRI yesterday, I hope to have prognosis soon. My left big toe has no power to it, the muscle that assists releve has no power to it. I should know the prognosis in a day or two.

 

Mike

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Go for it. It's fun to be 'up there'. Freed has a 'gentlemen' pointe shoe line (black linen, deep vamp, wider than usual pointe shoes), so you might want to contact them. Good luck!

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But also be aware that at age 59, you've probably got "the Body of Diminishing Returns", i.e., the more new you ask it to do, the less well it cooperates. It might work for you. On the other hand, it might not. Just trying to provide a little balanced counsel here.

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Mel and everyone else - I do appreciate the serious attention that my query has raised, and the responses that have been received, particularly from one or more real professionals, and also for the direction to the very informative site on men and pointe. I was taken by Mel's comment "I'd say that most men experiment with pointe at some time in their careers" which sums up my feelings. Clearly, at my age with my experience and my abilities, I am only learning ballet for myself and for my own pleasure*. And this involves exploring different aspects of ballet technique if I am offered the chance (as well as doing my classes with full commitment and to the absolute best of my abilities). It is in this spirit of exploration that I am taking up this opportunity.

 

(*Though I enjoy performing on stage, I have only done this with jazz dancing - adult beginners performing classical ballet are just embarrassing for everyone concerned.)

 

I do appreciate the comment that I am entering the period of diminishing returns. But long ago I decided I would try everything possible (though withdrawing if I thought I was injuring myself) because frankly it is getting to be my last chance to have lots of new experiences. If I was sensible, I'd just sit at home (not quite, but you know what I mean). But this approach has paid off in so many ways. I am having a wonderful life at the moment and managing to live my dreams in many ways. Anyway, all comments are gratefully taken on board.

 

It turns out that Bloch has a new store in my city (Brisbane), and that they have shoes in my sizes, so tomorrow I am going to try some.

 

Again, many thanks indeed for your input,

 

Jim.

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Jim, I would recommend you read the "Facts of Life about Pointe Work" article on this board. Generally, students are not physically ready for pointe work until at least 3 or 4 years of training have been completed.

 

http://dancers.invisionzone.com/index.php?showtopic=7125

 

You may be more of a beginner at this point than I had thought, and you may not be ready for pointe work yet. If you're not physically ready, you can lose a lot more than a few toenails. Also, you'll never develop correct work as a dancer, because your body will always be compensating while trying to dance en pointe without the prerequisite muscles. It's just not a way to make progress.

 

I have unfortunately seen far to many adult students en pointe who shouldn't have been, but their teachers allowed or even encouraged it. I'm not there and I don't know why your teacher is encouraging you to the 15-min pointe exercises, but that in and of itself does not mean you're ready for it or it would be benficial for you. You might be ready, you might not, as far as I know. You really need to take responsibility for your own training, since all too often teachers may not. If pointe training is something you want to do, it's a goal you can set for yourself.

 

I have also seen far too many men who are obviously "experimenting "with pointe work. You can tell who is experimenting and who is serious by how they approach the training with and use of pointe shoes. I once saw a guy with pointe shoes who must have changed between pointe shoes and slippers at lest 5 or 6 times during a 35-minute center :clapping:, like he changed on every combination. In all my years, I have NEVER seen any dancer do that, you can't just change your shoes every two minutes on stage.

 

This man's actions lent an air of "just experimenting" to the pointe shoes, and I think took away from all the hard work put in by those who are working seriously toward being able to DANCE in pointe shoes. Certainly not a good way to gain respect from others in the class. The final straw was when he didn't join the 30-minute pointe class immediately afterward --- all of the students who were any good en pointe wore slippers to class and stayed for the pointe segment. I very much believe that whatever you do in the ballet studio, it must be done with consistency, diligence and determination to succeed. Pointe work is no different. Pointe shoes are for dancing, they're not a glorified pilates machine or elliptical trainer.

 

I guess I'm saying I'm not a fan of experimenting with pointe shoes. Either set out to learn how to dance en pointe, or don't bother. I don't believe that much of relevance can be gained from experimenting either: so many guys try pointe shoes three times and come to various conclusions that are wrong. Learning how to get the right shoes, sew them right, pad them right, move your feet right inside them and align your body right above them takes more than three tries, and there's not much one can conclude about pointe work until those things have been achieved.

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