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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Adult Pointe


nzdancer

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It's true that many rush into the idea. I did, at first. Even though I'm only 20, pointe is something I'd admired from afar since I was tiny (who doesn't admire it at that age? I was smitten, I know) and when I began taking dance again, particularly ballet, I soon realized that it might be possible for me to try this thing I'd always wanted to try. It's a very romantic idea, and it can really get stuck in your head, like it did mine. I'd taken ballet for a few years, so I took a summer pointe class - there are smaller classes in the summer, and people who begin pointe at our studio usually start out here - and the sensibility of all those requirements hit me in those first few weeks. My teacher wouldn't have let me if I hadn't been ready, but since then, my view of it has definitely changed from that romanticized idea. It's very possible that I love it even more now, but I definitely had to step it up a notch and work harder than before.

While this might weed out some of the adults who just wanted to try it 'for fun', it's still clear how dangerous it can be. Perhaps they haven't heard the 'horror stories', or those stories have fallen on deaf ears?

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A further issue is, as somebody has pointed out before, the lack of classes in many regions, which might contribute/enhance to the students desire to go on pointe (too early). In the UK, pointe is often integrated into the class rather than a separate class, which often means that students move up on pointe automatically - this is certainly not the idea but reflects adult ballet training in the UKl!

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Guest pink tights

And another thing to consider...if you are pointe ready, can you remain pointe ready? Adult students tend to come and go, as their situaltions/schedules permit. Pointe is not something you can pick up every now and then, just for kicks.

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In the UK, pointe is often integrated into the class rather than a separate class, which often means that students move up on pointe automatically - this is certainly not the idea but reflects adult ballet training in the UKl!

 

Same goes for Germany! Lack of easily available quality training for adults and for all the kids who were not lucky enough to become students at one of the very few professional boarding schools.

In most ballet schools here you can call yourself lucky if they offer 3 classes ballet a week!!! :sweating::blink:

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True enough on the training. In Dallas, there were enough classes and at different levels to accomodate proper pointe instruction. My teachers there would never have let me into a class until I was ready, and there were serious training schedules for adults. Here in NZ, there simply aren't enough classes for that to be an option.

 

I can imagine that if I really wanted to be on pointe here in Christchurch, the only option would be to do so "on my own." I can pretty easily see why an adult might make the conscious decision to try despite the risks of injury...

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I've seen plenty of adults en pointe. Some are ready, some are not. It's pretty easy to tell by looking at how they use their feet, legs and ankles --- with or without pointe shoes on.

 

The reason not to do it before you're ready is it's really a waste of time. The bones don't go in the right places, and the positions and movements don't work the way they should. The wrong muscles will be strengthened, stretched and trained. You're not really doing ballet then, and it's hard to see how anyone could improve with a steady diet of pointe-before-you're-ready.

 

I don't know how adult students feel, but I believe that the process of improving is fundamental to the dance experience, no matter what your age or aspirations. From that point of view, it's better to work in flat shoes to attain the required preparation, then to go en pointe too early.

 

It's also my belief that the short pointe classes (20-30 min) after a regular class are the best way to learn. If you can make it thorough those classes and improve over time, then you've achieved something. Working in class with pointe shoes, without previous preparation, is ineffective. I commend pink_tight's teacher for offering to help out the proper way.

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Pointe, for me, is the epitome of ballet. I feel it is the total end goal of all of those tendus, frappes, and work on demi-pointe. Everyone does not, and should not, feel the way I do. I truly empathize with individuals who would like to take pointe as adults but cannot find enough ballet classes to prepare them (strength wise). I've been there, done that and have taken it upon myself to take division-level ballet with the kiddos. I have been taking pointe consistently for 3 years, on average I take 5 classes a week (same level but 2 different studios), and each of those 5 classes includes pointe.

Like most things in life, the more and the longer you do something, you generally get better at it. Progress will generally not be seen if someone takes pointe only 1 time a week. Ofcourse, it's great to start out at this pace, or maybe as some type of "trial" basis to see if you like it or not, but don't expect to see much come of this. Thus, I encourage any adult interested in pointe to thoroughly research the subject and the teachers' abilities in your area. Take it upon yourself to get the best preparation you possibly can and take as many ballet, pointe, and core-strengthening classes you can. You only live once, grab life by the horns :blink:

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Think of the teacher's perspective too. Hopefully, a teacher feels responsibility toward his or her students, and wants to conduct class in a manner that's a supportive, safe learning environment for everyone.

 

I know I'd be rather stressed out if I was trying to teach and felt a student was going to hurt themselves :blink: It'd take away from everyone else's experience too.

 

I don't mean to be disrespectful, but I've been in open classes with people who have no business at all dancing with the shoes on (all ages), and it's just scary. I've spent my whole hour and a half cringing because I think someone's about to break an ankle or worse. And I'm often surprised at the teachers (people who KNOW what they're doing) who allow this in thier class.

 

davidg's suggestion of 20 mintues to a half hour after class is ideal. Heck, that's how I learned at 11 years old. I've been to adult pointe classes like this where the correct work is done at the correct pace, and everyone seems happy and productive. And yes, I think a certain amount of pointe can be done by adults who are "less than ideal". As long as it's a small, dedicated, pointe class in a controlled environment, or a private lesson. Throwing the shoes on for open or technique class is not the same at all.

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TThrowing the shoes on for open or technique class is not the same at all.

 

I agree wholeheartedly. I've danced for a long time, and only do this when at the top of my game, and if I feel the slightest bit wierd that day, off they go.

 

If one is truly dancing for themselves, knowing when NOT to do something is as important as finally getting to.

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Having a separate 20 min pointe class after technique would be ideal, but at least in London, there are no such classes offered. I agree with lampwick that wearing pointes for an open/technique class is not the same, but it's often the only way.

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No surprise, but I'm with lampwick and davidg on this.

 

The :blushing: person I know here realises that pointe is not often open to adults, and in my opinion, uses it as a bribe. As a result, we've got people who only dance once a week or occassionally (like twice a month) doing pointe and in performances en pointe and in class.

 

Now, it would be one thing if these women were really strong enough, aligned enough, etc. And if we did some really basic pointe work in class. But usually class starts with shoes on and people shed them throughout, we don't do any specific pointe warming up exercises or things at the barre, and then center includes hops, ballones, turns, balances, repeated releves... etc etc etc. It's scary - and this is meant in no disrespect to those en pointe. They want to be there, they are trying their hearts out, and I can fully understand the desire. But they just are not ready to be doing all this, and it is easy to spend an entire class just scared watching people who are consistently struggling... people often get loads of injuries but think they are 'normal' and 'come with the territory' and are thus quiet about them so that they can keep on doing pointe. Again, I understand, but ... are the injuries really worth it? We're talking things that could affect you for a lifetime. Part of this is exactly what Laschwen said, that I don't think they fully know what the risks are... more like 'of course it's like this when you're just beginning and the only way to get it is to keep trying'... which again is true to some extent but.... :clover: I've seen so many friends get injured.... I dunno. This is a frustrating topic for me.

 

There's just gotta be some good middle ground somewhere. Doing beginning pointe with the 'kids' if you go to a studio set up that way (as opposed to an 'open' studio) would hopefully be an option.

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Ami, do you have seperate pointe classed in Cambridge?

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Am not in Cams...

 

But, have one separate pointe classes with the 'kids' - a bit of a mixed bag with all sorts of ability levels but a good teacher who is doing her best with it!

 

The other teacher is starting one next week, but at the same time as the other adults class (WHY OH WHY HAVE TWO ADULTS CLASSES ON THE SAME NIGHT AT SAME TIME?!!! Argh!). But have seen that teacher's 'beginning pointe' stuff and is... erm... advances quite quickly.

 

The rest we do in regular classes I'm afraid, but it used to be a bit more discerning or like 'I think you should do this on demi even with your pointe shoes on' etc... Now, it's just go for it... :blushing:

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[i don't mean to be disrespectful, but I've been in open classes with people who have no business at all dancing with the shoes on (all ages), and it's just scary. I've spent my whole hour and a half cringing because I think someone's about to break an ankle or worse. And I'm often surprised at the teachers (people who KNOW what they're doing) who allow this in thier class.

 

 

 

Here is another big point for students and teachers alike.

We are watching other students all the time. If they are en pointe one might assume they know what they are doing and try to emulate.....with disasterous results if it is one of the ones who shouldn't have been allowed up. Obviously some of us here know enough to realize who not to emulate but I am guessing most of the beginner adults won't know the difference....

This seems like a dangerous breeding process to me.

I hope teachers start taking control of this more; especially with offering the "20-30 minutes after" program for those who qualify. Those not ready may be able to watch and listen if they have "the lust" so they know what kind of preparation goals to set, and the others can just go home. I think it is distracting to have a few trying to do a whole class in pointe shoes with others including beginners in flats in the same class.

How does somebody new to pointe stand a full class anyway?

I think my classes "in the day" started with 10 minutes at the end of class.

 

 

laschwen

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