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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Books: Perfect Pointe Book

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The Perfect Pointe Book, by Lisa Howell (B.Phty), is this a good book to spend $47.77 on? Has anyone ever read it, and maybe could tell me if it was helpful or not? Thanks a bunch!!! :D:sweating:

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Well, I'll tell you that I am always skeptical of any book/video/etc. that promises that you will "get strong enough for pointework in 4 easy steps!". If the training hasn't been there, there isn't anything that's quickly going to create a pointe-ready dancer :sweating:

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  • 3 months later...

I know this post is a bit oldish, but maybe someone else knows more about the book? I was considering buying it as well, because it sounded like a nice collection of exercises I could do at home, to use the time between my ballet classes expediently to improve my dancing. I think Lisa Howell sounds pretty reputable and her videos on youtube make sense to me...

I agree with you, though, about the dubiety of quotes like "get strong enough for pointe in 4 easy steps".

Does anyone know more about the book?

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I don't know if Lisa Howell's book is self-published or published through a publishing house, but an acquaintance of mine who is an author has been forced to go along with putting, for example, "5 Easy Steps to______________" on the covers of her books by the publisher, even in the face of her objections. It's a marketing tactic, and not necessarily the author's own idea. :) Of course, if the book is self-published, then it is the author's idea.

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Well, it's actually only a down-loadable online version. I wouldn't really worry about a book titled "4 easy steps to..." but it's Lisa Howell's own web presence. I really thought the book might be really good - I mean Lisa Howell does have quite a good reputation, but I cannot believe that a dance physiotherapist believes in and promotes the existence of and easy way to go en pointe. Thanks for your explanation though!

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O.K., I get it! I think my dd receives her online newsletters and enjoys them, but I don't think we'll be downloading the book! I agree that there's no "easy" way to achieve the skills needed for pointe. :)

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  • 2 months later...

I recently downloaded this e-book, looking for basic exercises I could do for my feet outside of class and for information to help me understand my feet in the eventuality that I one day can go en pointe again (I’m 42 and haven’t been en pointe since I was about 16, and my teacher and I have tentatively scheduled it for spring or summer…)


Without commenting on whatever advertising hype there is, I offer the following comments:


This is a methodical, systematic program for strengthening and learning to properly work the feet. It consists of 4 stages, each a minimum of 2 weeks long. At the beginning of each stage, there is a series of tests which helps you evaluate your current condition, then you follow a 2-week program of daily exercises which includes rest days when appropriate, then you re-test. If you have improved sufficiently, you continue on to the next stage. If you have not improved sufficiently, the book recommends staying in your current stage and suggests which exercises to continue for longer until you can achieve a better result in the tests.


Most of the tests and exercises in the book are not unfamiliar or unsafe. If you collected all the things ballet dancers do in the 30 minutes before and after class, you might find many of them here, including familiar point-and-flex work, massages with small ######, etc.


Hopefully without violating Ms. Howell’s copyrights, or giving away any specific exercises, here is a summary:


First, in the opening pages, she suggests you take the book to your teacher for his or her approval. Then…


Stage 1 tests how high you can get in demi-pointe, how far you can point your foot in general, and how flexible your Achilles tendon is and identifies specific weaknesses in the flexibility of the foot. The description of each test (here, and in each stage) gives detailed points to watch out for when doing the test exercises and anatomical information, sometimes including diagrams, which explain why you can and can’t achieve certain things.


Stage 1 exercises are all non-weight-bearing, except for bringing awareness to weight distribution in the foot while simply standing, and include stretches for calves and Achilles tendons, various point and flexes, gentle arch massage, and a couple of exercises that specifically bring attention and understanding to working properly the small intrinsic muscles of the foot and independence and gentle strengthening of toes.


Although all the exercises were familiar to me, what I have found helpful is all the detailed points of what to look for during the exercises. I have learned a lot about how to control my toes from this stage.


If you do not sufficiently improve after 2 weeks of stage 1, you are encouraged to repeat the exercises until you do. (I am in my 2nd week of stage 1.)


Stage 2 tests for balance flat on one foot and strength in rising up to demi-pointe; again, each with several pages of detailed information to identify specific weakness and common errors to watch for and how to correct them.


Stage 2 exercises include selected stage 1 exercises, plus some balance/proprioception exercises, familiar turnout exercises, various exercises rising onto demi pointe, another basic stretch, and some core strengthening (again, with detailed bullet points which I had not necessarily been aware of before.)


Stage 3 tests examine your alignment and identify weaknesses in various pliés.


Stage 3 exercises include abductor and adductor strengtheners and familiar & gentle adductor & abductor stretches, a non-weight-bearing parallel to turned out exercise, a particular plié exercise, and familiar/gentle glute strengthening/stretches.


Stage 4 tests balance on demi pointe, on both feet and one foot.


Stage 4 exercises include core strengthening, various balances on demi pointe, calf/achilles stretches, different toe exercises, different glute strengthening/stretch, and hip flexor stretch.


At the end of the 4 stages, a program for ongoing use is suggested.


There is nothing dangerous, extreme, or unfamiliar in the book, and I found it to be a safe and comprehensive program for overall improved understanding of my feet and basic alignment. What is most valuable to me is the gradual and methodical approach, which encourages working at very basic things slowly until they are understood and gotten right, and all the methodical bullet-pointed checklists of what to watch for in each exercise, in which detail we do not always have time to go into in ballet class. I think it would have taken me a long time to compile all these exercises from various sources and come up with a program that put them in the right/best/most effective order and I’m glad I found a resource that has done this for me. I attend class daily, have great teacher, and feel I work my feet well and properly in class, but I feel I am benefiting greatly by bringing this level of detailed attention to the way I do things.


I think it’s somewhat costly for a *.pdf file, but I’m hoping that the price will convert from Australian dollars to U.S. dollars when the credit card bill comes! On the other hand, I have been looking for awhile, and have not found a comparable collection of exercises elsewhere.


And no, I have nothing to do with this woman or her organization (if she has one!)


Also, she sends a lot of follow-up e-mails (which seem geared towards teens), and once you’ve downloaded the book, you have access to various additional articles and blogs on her website. You can also e-mail her directly with questions.


Well, sorry that was long-winded. I sometimes wish I had this kind of information when I'm evaluating making a purchase, and this one can't be browsed in a bookstore...

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Thank you for this very thorough review!


I am pleased that the e-book is helpful.

(I was hoping it was, as I have liked her tips before, but I have not downloaded this e-book, it being just a bit too pricey for me right now)



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  • 3 weeks later...

I see that Lisa Howell now has a video course that goes along with the book. It's free if you purchase the book. I'm not sure if those who already bought the book will receive the videos. It wouldn't hurt to ask.


I'm thinking about buying this for my almost 11 year old DD. If anyone else has some input, I'd love to hear it. Pirou, are you still doing the exercises?


Thanks! :yes:

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I actually got one of the e-book call the perfect pointe manual for Parents some time last year, she was offering it FREE at the time. I down loaded it. It is focus on the overall health of young dancer and beyond the last chapter was for pointe. 148 pages. I read so of it, it information I heard over the years put in a book form.

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I have the free parent's manual too, but I think this is a different book. It doesn't have all the exercises that are supposed to help turnout, flexibility, strength, etc.


At least I hope it's a different book. B)

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I downloaded the Parent's Manual too and find it is well written and full of good sense. A couple of times I have printed out a particular page or section to give to one of my pupil's parents - very useful.

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From the e-mails I have been getting from Ms. Howell, I do believe I will be getting the video program for free, since I bought the manual itself.


Sadly, I broke my 5th metatarsal, so I am doing neither the exercises in the book, nor anything else! :shrug: I have about 2 weeks more to go of prescribed inactivity (even point-and-flex was hurting my broken foot), then I think starting the exercises in the book over again from the beginning will be the first and best thing to do to start getting my foot back into shape. The first 2 weeks of her program are non-weight-bearing. It seems like a very good way to work back in.


By the way, those turned out to be 47.77 American Dollars, not the Australian ones I was hoping for...

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  • 2 weeks later...

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