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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Pointe problem


jane s

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Hi all,

 

Sorry I haven't posted much lately, but it's because I've been busy revising for my exams....

 

Anyway, I've been on pointe for half a term now, for about 20 minutes or less a week. The other girls in my class who began pointe this term began at the start of the term & get two pointe classes a week. So basically I have had 5 lessons & they have had about 20!

 

I probably don't need to say much more, do I? You can guess the problem!

 

I still want to concentrate on the absolute basics, such as getting over my box every time on rises and "stepping up", and then being shown how to do proper echappes & releves.

 

She now has us doing courus at the barre, and starting to do things in the centre (though she did tell me not to do that on pointe. Not that she needed to tell me, there was no way after 5 classes!)

 

I am trying to do all the echappes and courus, but suspect I am not doing them properly because I haven't been taught the proper technique, I am just copying the others. I don't think I am over my box either, and the courus really HURT!

 

I KNOW that some of the girls practise at home as well - and I also know that I shouldn't be doing that. However, what is the difference between doing it wrong at home, where the teacher can't see me, & doing it wrong in the studio, when the teacher isn't watching me? Cos to be honest, I don't see any difference (& that doesn't just apply to pointe, by the way....)

 

So I am really tempted to practise at home and video myself to see if I am over my box or not, but if I am not, what should I do to correct the problem?

 

Jane

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I'm sorry, I know I'm not an adult and I probably shouldn't post here. But I just wanted to say that I've been in that exact situation during September of this year. I wanted to work at home, but didn't. You might be doing something wrong, practice it like that, and get yourself into the habit. Plus your shoes will die much faster.

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Hi Jane-

 

I'm a beginning pointe student as well, and have struggled with some of the same issues, although my situation is a bit different.

 

Are you already doing a lot of releves, eleves, etc (in soft shoes) at home? . I found that really helped me a lot, especially when I was only doing a short class once a week.

 

And after you've been taking for a while, you might want to think about doing the barre in a lower level class on pointe. After 8 or so months of taking pointe, I asked my teacher in a lower level class if I could do just the barre exercises in pointe shoes. Boy, doing the same exercises on flat in pointe shoes instead of soft shoes helped build up a lot of muscles too. I was careful not to do anything on releve on pointe I hadn't been taught yet, but it has really helped me a lot to do pointe more often while still having a teacher there.

 

I also admit that my pointe shoes come out at home about once a week, although I try to stick to very basic strengthening moves such as releves and eleves. That is a good idea to video yourself, too - I might have to try that. What does your teacher think about your doing exercises at home? My teacher actually wants me to do very basic exercises on pointe at home for strength. Sometimes I also try to come early or stay after class to practice basic pointe exercises so I can have a nice barre, floor, and mirror. A teacher is usually meandering about, so I hope that if I am doing something really bad, she'll say something.

 

I am slow learner on pointe, so I often still need to do at the barre what the other students are doing in the center, so if you need to do that to be safe, don't feel alone!

 

 

RT

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Thanks for the replies! Never thought about practising at home wearing my shoes out faster, but that's a good point. However, "getting into the habit of doing it wrong" is exactly what I'm worried about, since I'm not getting much feedback from the teacher - she just tells me to copy the girl next to me! She has not taught me how to do releves, echappes or courus properly, I am copying the others (who she taught in their other class that I can't get to) and watching a pointe video at home. An older student taught me how to do stepping up and rises.

 

I'm not able to practice before or after the class, unfortunately, as there are other classes directly before & after mine. I'm not able to get to a lower level class either as they take place too early in the day before I am home from work (I commute).

 

No, the teacher does not object to me staying at the barre when the others are in the centre (or facing the barre when the others are standing sideways) as she knows I have had less classes. And I am confident enough to ask, or just to decide to do that.

 

Practising releves in soft shoes at home is a really good idea, thanks, I'll definitely do that.

 

The teacher told the more advanced students in the class (the ones ready for the exam next term who have been on pointe for ages) to practise their rises and so on at home, but didn't say anything to us beginners about it. I know the others do practise though - one of them a LOT as she is really confident on pointe and has been right from the start!

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I'm worried about the quality of the teaching you are recieving- "copy the student next to you" is NOT what I want to hear when learning a step, especially en pointe for the first time. Your teacher NEEDS to go over how you properly execute a step, especially since there seem to be more beginners in your class. Practicing in soft shoes is all well and good, but if you don't know a step to begin with, the possibility of hard wiring your body to learn it incorrectly is very great. I would ask questions about anything I wasn't certain I knew- if you're doing it right, then you know for sure. :yes:

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I sounds to me as if the situation is that they teacher'd prefer you not to be on pointe in the first place, if you cannot make all of the classes, but is too lazy/shy/greedy to actually say so. :yes:

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I don't think it's that she'd "prefer" me not to be on pointe, rather that since I am (only?) an adult recreational dancer "it doesn't matter" if I do it right or not, as long as I don't injure myself.

 

The way she teaches pointe classes is to get the senior students waiting for the next class to teach the beginners while she works with the more advanced ones. On this occasion, she put us in between the exam level students and told us to copy them for the basic exercises (which we had done before) while she went out to get something from the car....!

 

So no feedback at all there, then! What made it even worse for me was that this was the last class of term and all the parents etc were watching & it must've looked like I was rubbish on pointe & shouldn't have been there at all.

 

When I'm sure I can do it if I go more slowly like the others had a chance to.

 

Jane

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Well, it also probably looked like the teacher was rubbish, so at least you weren't alone! :o:rolleyes:

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Are there any other studios you could go to? Maybe there is one closer to where you work than home where you will find a teacher who pays attention to her students. This class sounds scary.

 

Laschwen

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Not really, not on a regular basis anyway - I've been going to that school for many years (when I first went there it was run by a lovely lady who is the best teacher I ever had, but she retired!) I also do tap & modern there & they let me do exams - it is really hard to find an "adult-friendly" school as I am sure everyone understands, and I've probably made things sound much worse than they are... I didn't have to go on pointe, in fact I had reservations about it from the start as I posted on the board at the time, but I went ahead in the hope that I am sensible enough to know if a movement is unsafe for me & can make the choice not to do it.

 

You are right however that I do not get corrected enough by my teachers, and I am certain that I have "got into the habit of doing it wrong" in relation to all kinds of movements.

 

I feel I am not as good as I used to be two years ago - I end up doing all the combinations but without much technique most of the time. Whereas when I was in Grades 2-4 (under my old teacher) I used to work really hard on technique.

 

I just don't want my pointe work to go the same way.

 

Jane

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Jane, I know it's hard for you but if you could get to the Friday evening pointe class I've told you about - it's short but the teacher is excellent. It is mixed ability from v. beginners to me, but she progresses through exercises and alters them for different people.

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jane- I am a student, just like yourself. So take this as you want. But, I think maybe you should take yourself off pointe. You could still do the "pointe" part of the class, but in regular technique shoes. But being an adult means responsibility to recognize dangerous situations.

 

I started on pointe after 3 months of ballet. I had 18 years of other dance, was strong, and was taking 3, 90 minute classes a week. I read on ballet talk that to be on pointe you needed to have the facility (which I thought was okay), 3 classes a week (check) and 2 years of ballet (eh... I've danced before.)

 

When I switched studios (a move, nothing to do with the former studio) I went to join the beginning pointe class. It was then that I saw the MANY many things that I had not been taught. I realized it was unsafe for me to be on pointe and I was lucky i hadn't hurt myself. I thought my facility was good based on the other adults in the class. But the standard isn't the others in the class, but instead what is actually safe for ballet. It is possible that no one in my class should have been on pointe. When I was asked if I had done pointe before and would I like to join the class, I had a choice to make. I could say yes. It was true. Or I could recognize that I was not at the level where I should be on pointe and wait. So that's what I did. And it was hard. Because I love dancing in my pointe shoes. I feel like a beautiful ballerina. I swear they make me lose 10 pounds in the mirror.

 

Now I am back starting pointe again. We have a 60 minute pointe class, after a 90 minute technique class. Reading these boards, it appears that it is normal for teens to have this sort of schedule- there usually isn't a normal for adults on pointe, but adults should see that their schedules reflect good ballet training.The first half of pointe is at the barre, the second half, center. For awhile in the center the beginners (it is a beg/int class) only go on demi pointe for parts of the exercise. In another post you said that 20 minutes of a 60 minute class are on pointe. 20 minutes following a full class seems somewhat normal for beginners, but with this schedule, how do you have enough time to work on technique?

 

Just think about these things. Decide for yourself if it is time for you to be on pointe, or if it is time for you to be on pointe elsewhere.

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In another post you said that 20 minutes of a 60 minute class are on pointe. 20 minutes following a full class seems somewhat normal for beginners, but with this schedule, how do you have enough time to work on technique?

 

The short answer is, I (we) don't. You're right. As for whether any of us should be on pointe at all - I don't know. I'm not - and don't pretend to be - qualified to make that judgement. I do know that at my level, in my country, being put on pointe with that kind of schedule is not at all unusual. (2 x 1-hour classes in ballet, plus classes in other dance forms).

 

There is one girl in my class who, before she went on pointe, had 1 year of ballet doing 1 hour a week, then quit for a term or so, and then was put on pointe a few weeks after she came back (she is, however, a total natural at ballet & very flexible - e.g. she has her splits). (She now takes 3 x 1-hour classes a week, one more than the 2 the teacher said was a requirement to go on pointe).

 

Everyone else in my class has, like me, been doing ballet for years (although two other girls, who take the pointe class I DON'T do plus the other technique class with me, have not been coming for over 2 years and used to only do 1 hour a week but now do 2. Sorry, I know that's complicated!).

 

So with a few possible exceptions, most people (probably) were ready to start pointe. After a term, they appear to be coping well (of course, I only know about the ones in my own pointe class). The only people with any issues are me & the girl who only had a year's ballet, (she says her feet aren't that strong & she finds it hard, but she still attempts everything including the centre work).

 

I am more cautious (as I should be after only 5 classes) and if it doesn't feel safe (as opposed to just untidy), I stop doing it or I do it on flat.

 

I don't want to come off pointe altogether, I just want to stick to the Inter Foundation exercises ("cycling" through the feet, rises, echappes & releves) until I have mastered the correct technique & am happy with them. (Just like the others did when they started half-a-term before me). Not unreasonable surely?

 

The teacher is moving us on to the Intermediate exercises, however, which is harder exercises, mostly sideways to the barre & some will be in the centre. And I am NOT ready for that. No way. Trying to do that WOULD be unsafe for me, I agree with you.

 

It's a fine line, I guess, between being too afraid to try & being too reckless - but I'd much rather err on the side of caution I think!

 

Jane

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