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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Classes on pointe vs. classes on flat


biners6

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My teacher has been insisting that we take some of our classes on flat, to the point where sometimes I feel like I'm not getting enough pointework. However, she says that it is very important for me to work in flat shoes a fair amount of the time because it helps me to work through my feet better and strengthen my metatarsels. I take class right now both at this school and also at my high school, so I generally end up having four to five technique classes on pointe a week and about four on flat. Is this ok? I'm a senior in high school, planning on training in college and then hoping to dance professionally.

Also, in general, what are the advantages to taking class on flat? At what point in your training (if ever) should you start taking all your classes on pointe?

Thanks,

Caroline

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Caroline, many teachers expect all or most of their technique classes in flat shoes, but that only works if there are dedicated pointe classes. If you don't have separate pointe classes, then doing some of them on pointe and some on flat is fine.

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I much prefer to do full techique classes in soft shoes, and then have a pointe class immediately afterwards, with some barre work included. I do not feel that students who work in pointe shoes all the time learn to really articulate their feet well enough, and to use the floor. Yes, they have to learn to articulate in pointe shoes too, but, that should happen following the work in technique shoes. That is my preference. I know that some teachers disagree with this.

 

Lower level dancers are not technically ready to work in pointe shoes all the time and will not develop the strength and articulation if they do. Upper level dancers should be having so many hours in pointe classes, pas de deux, variations, and rehearsals that they just don't need to also do technique classes in pointe shoes.

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I usually only take classes on pointe when I don't have a separate pointe class after technique, and even then I only do center on pointe, so I can warm up my feet and articulate them in flat shoes before putting on pointe shoes. I used to take whole classes on pointe on Saturday mornings before rehearsal, but my feet would cramp up badly from especially the tendu and degagé combinations, and then pointe would be extremely painful at the end of the rehearsal day at 6 pm.

It does seem to be a personal decision though. It looks like you're taking a good number of technique classes, but if you think your pointework isn't strong enough for the level you are in right now, you could take more of your classes on pointe, but I do think your teacher and Ms. Leigh are right that technique in flat shoes has benefits. Not to mention that taking some of your classes on flat will make your pointe shoes last longer...I know that's always a problem for me!

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Guest plee-a

I'm not sure what is truly best, but I think it makes more sense to do technique on flat. My teacher has us (the advanced class) take three of our five technique classes a week on pointe and gives very difficult combinations at the barre and in center in which we are almost always on pointe the entire time. Friday night is a two hour pointe class, then usually 2-3 hours of rehearsal on pointe immediately afterword. Not to mention that there is rehearsal on pointe the next day. Does this 2 hour class on pointe seem a bit extreme? My teacher seems to believe the more we are on pointe, the better we will perform on pointe. This 2 hour class makes rehearsal very painful, and I don't think I dance as well as I could in rehearsal. However, I am very comfortable dancing in pointe shoes.

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At my school they follow a similar philosophy to plee-a's school. We are expected to wear our pointe shoes 2 hrs Mon-Thurs with about 3 hours on Friday with rehearsal and about 4 saturday with rehearsal. I take a second class Mon-Thurs on flat but still, that is quite a lot. So far it seems to have worked pretty well for us and dancers are well prepared for residency schools and companies. I love having classes on flat because it feels so nice to be able to really work my feet, but at this stage for me it is good to have a lot of pointe because I need to prepare myself for a lot of pointe during our june performances. I think, however, that at an advanced level it is important (for me at least) to continue with technique class.

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i think that taking at least the center of a technique class on pointe is a good idea as an advanced student. younger dancers need to still build up the strength to avoid injury. when i was at that level was when i started wearing pointed shoes for center everyday, since i do have some difficulties warming my feet up when i take barre on pointe. and from my experience, as plee-a said, the more i wore my pointe shoes, the more comfortable i felt dancing on pointe. also, i feel like my feet and ankles became much stronger. and, yes, my feet did hurt by the end of the day for a while. but they got tougher and now i don't have any problems. plus, if you go into a company, you have six hours of rehearsals on pointe every day! you need tough feet. pointe work is very important and when you have upcoming peroformances, sometimes extra pointe classes are cancelled to use the time for rehearsal.

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