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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Allowed to start pointe at the barre

je danse dans ma tete

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Well, most of you know that I started ballet really recently (September). During September I took one class per week and then two, and since the end of October I have taken 3 per week. I am very athletic with strong legs and feet. My teacher doesn't know how long I have been doing ballet and yesterday she said I (and 3 other womans in our class of 25) could probably start to do some basic pointe work at the barre if we were interested because we now know where our center is and are very strong with good technique. The other 3 womans have been dancing for 3 years at this studio.


One woman asked about pointe and the teacher during center said ok, now lets do X, Y and Z (releves, echappes, and balances). She made it difficult. Then there were only 4 of us who weren't complaining and were not wobbling. TThat's when she said we could probably do basic pointe at the barre if we wanted. She said after class that she was serious and we could get fitted if we were interested but not so on the ribbons in case our shoes were not right.


I am quite eager (!), but I haver read here that you have to do two years of ballet at least to be able to start pointe. My teacher is reputable, well educated, and cares about her students. But I don't know if I am deceiving her by not telling her I am brand new to ballet (she never asked). I know I'm not the worst in class, but I'm not as good as the other 3 she is putting on pointe, for sure. I am a bit taken back by her suggestion. I'm also wondering, what is the pointe of doing pointe if I can only do releves, echappes, plies, tendus, ronds des jambes and other elementary stuff in the shoes? Is it a way of getting used to the shoes and does it help you to work better in pointe later on when you move away from barre? Should I go ahead and start pointe, is it too early, should I trust my teacher?

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Actually, you have read here a minimum of 3 years, with 3 classes per week minimum for the year prior to pointe. Going on pointe, even for basics at the barre, with 3 months training, makes no sense at all to me. Sorry. I'm sure your teacher is very good, and you must be doing very well indeed for her to say that, however I really think it would not be a good idea.

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I somehow didn't think so either, thank you Ms. Leigh!


Should I let my teacher know tonight that I am really new to ballet? I don't want her to think that I am "not interested" as I do want to get on pointe (but when I am ready to do it for real). I think she might have the wrong impression because I am coordinated and pick things up easily. Or should I just say nothing unless she asks me why I didn't buy pointe shoes? I'm not sure of the correct etiquette here.

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Ms. Leigh will give you the best advice, but I wanted to weigh in.


If it were me, I'd definitely let your teacher know that you're new to ballet. Tell her that you've done some research, and have concerns that starting pointe after only a few months of ballet could potentially be dangerous. I'm often needing to discuss little things (with big implications to me personally :P with the AD of the company I apprentice with. He's very busy, and a lot of people try to get his attention after class. I try and know exactly how I will phrase things beforehand, so I get get "to the point" and get it over with. Sometimes, I stand around for a while while he talks to other people...and try to not lose patience. I only mention this because I read sometimes on here how people are concerned about the teacher being too busy to have time to talk.


It's important she knows your background in ballet.


That said, I've seen one student of another teacher of mine who started pointe after less than a year of ballet. She worked on pointe in private lessons, and sometimes at the barre in class. She was very strong already, and had almost perfect natural rotation she could control. Also had three years of another dance form that she was already quite accomplished at. It was a rare case, but this girl was totally fine for some pointe work.


Good luck and enjoy, whatever the decision is!

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If your teacher is unaware of your duration and frequency of study, then certainly let her know what they are!

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Thank you for the responses, Lampwick and Mr. Johnson. I will make sure to tell my teacher that I've only had 3 months of ballet. I will also tell her that I really really REALLY want to do pointe work, but when I am ready :)

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Well I find it more appropriate to add my question under this topic then;


I'm also a little new to ballet (it's been 3 months since I've restarted after almost 8 years) and I'm on pointe already. I'm doing generally good, maybe sometimes even better than the rest of the class, but the problem is, after pointe my ankles start to hurt (it's been 4 days after my last pointe class and they still hurt but nothing like an injury pain, they feel just.. overworked?) and this means that my ankles are not that strong yet I assume? :wacko:


Anyway, I did only 3 pointe classes yet but my teacher wants us to do changement on pointe and I just don't trust in my ankles enough to do that; is it true for me to stop a minute and think "hey, I'm newish to this stuff, I don't want to jump on my toes yet :) " or am I being just a baby to whine about it? :shrug: Sometimes when I feel that a step could easily hurt my ankles I hold the barre even though when they are doing barrework on pointe I do all the steps in the center to improve my balance and strenght. But other students, even those who cannot even get over their boxes properly give it a go and I feel like a chicken when I return to the barre :) Am I right to follow my intuitions or am I just being over anxious about it? (same thing happens with the pirouettes, I cannot be sure if my ankles are strong enough to let me jump on my "one" ankle for a pirouette; but even if I was Svetlana Zakharova or some other principle herself I don't think that I could do these things in my third or fourth class on pointe either? :P )

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Np, you are absolutely right- any hop on pointe is a technically more advanced step and needs absolutely controlled stability, strong and stable ankles which I believe no beginning pointe student has.

The first year on pointe should include basic balances at the barre on pointe at first on both feet and later in retire, walking on pointe, stepping up and down, rolling up and down and very minimal centerwork on pointe if any at all yet. (I can see a little basic placement and balancing exercises en pointe, maybe a small pas de bourre pique but nothing more than that!)


Skyish you are right. Stay away from hops on pointe (and even pirouettes) until you are strong and technically advanced enough to do them. What does your teacher say?

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Well my teacher (who hates me during center and barre =P(I'm still a little loser in terms of technique because I still can't get the combinations quickly and I still can't combine my arms, head and legs, I generally do steps with just legs for now)) is pretty much contented about my pointe work. Unbelievably, she even wants me to assist her by putting me between two newest students to make them learn from me etc. during pointe. And I guess she thinks that I have enough strenght and stability to manage them all, otherwise I don't think that she would let me.


But the problem is, I somehow look strong on pointe but obviously I'm not because I'm still not good even for "on one foot releves" in my opinion (well I can do passes, retires etc. with a little help from the barre etc. but it's absolutely not enough for doing a pirouette in the center), I just don't know :) By the way, my ankles are not strong nor stable, they are just really flexible but weak and they are aching soo much right now :)

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I agree with shulie in that it's not a step for beginners. Even though you used to dance it would normally take more than a couple of months to build up sufficient strength again for pointework. Perhaps when you do feel you might be ready you could use the barre for support initially and see how it feels, this would certainly be less risky than doing it straight away in the centre.


Flexing and stretching your feet lots might help to build strength as will lots and lots of releves and rises (demi-pointe would be fine). I've been known to work on particular movements that need practise while I'm cooking!


Just tell your teacher you've been getting achy ankles for a while and you don't feel strong enough to do changements en pointe yet but that you're working hard to improve - she should respect you for being honest.

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Now I am curious. As we all know, our friend Grace (aka Striving for Grace) started pointe after only 6 months of ballet, without doing any before. This summer when I went to her city to visit my brother we met, and we went to a few open level classes together. Some people were on flat and brand new, others had many years of ballet and pointe. Grace was already doing the advanced things on pointe (I think she had only been on pointe for a few months by then- Grace, correct me if I am wrong). For example, I saw her doing arabesques, attitudes, turns, hopping in attitude, etc. and doing it very well so that even the teacher was always making her to demonstrate things for the class.


I know that is an exception to the rule, but just wondering, how can some people just start and be instantly good, as if they were doing it for years? Is there something that the ones of us who are maybe not as "naturally" able can do to get on pointe sooner? Or does it take 3 years for most people?

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I too back then was started on pointe after roughly 6 months of ballet- it did not harm me as I was a quick learner and had strong feet, was a late starter at 14 and had to catch up with class- but that does not mean it was not potentially risky. The longer time of experience you have the better and safer it is (not to mention quality training is necessary)- I personally would not start out student on pointe after such a short time.

Too big of a risk.

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Je Danse, in these situations it may be good to play the game of listing on a piece of paper the pros and cons of starting now and the pros and cons of starting later.

I am almost positive you will have a longer "con" list for starting now (ex: potential for injury, the pain, etc.) than later.

It's good that you are a naturally strong and coordinated person (many of us have to work extra hard to attain those qualities), but pointe work requires strength and flexibility in those tiny muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the human foot and ankle that only 1-3 years of consistently (and correctly) doing tendus, degages, frappes, releves, eleves will potentially provide.

I'd say consult with your teacher first.

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I'd also say that while the natural faculty might be there, there's a lot of details regarding not just alignment, etc., but miniscule differences in muscle strengths, alignment, that take a long time to train....

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I started dancing when I was 15, went on pointe just under a year later and passed my RAD Intermediate less than a year after that (with the pointe section being a very good mark!). I went to classes maybe 4 times a week but worked hard and was obviously doing well, I was instantly strong en pointe.


If the maturity is there, the student works hard and the physique is suitable, sometimes it is OK to go en pointe earlier. Although in general I agree that a couple of years attending lots of classes is usually necessary. And of course some will never go en pointe if they just aren't suited to it.

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