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On Pointe, Now Off - Need Experienced Advice Please


fairydancer

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I'm new here and hopefully this is the correct forum. If not, moderator please move it to the correct forum so I can get the best answers.

 

Bear with me - explanation will be long.

 

1. DD (that's short for darling daughter) is one of those lucky few with the right body, strength, flexibility, talent, drive and will of iron. She desperately wants to be a professional ballerina.

 

2. She takes many hours per week at the studio and privates with a former ballerina from the former USSR.

 

3. Private teacher put her on pointe May 2007 because she said she was ready - not at our request. DD is very strong and progressed quickly to center work.

 

4. DD had a minor injury earlier in year and studio director referred us to ortho specializing in dance injuries. We consulted him again about pointe. He cleared her for pointe based on x-ray and examination.

 

5. Because of scheduling DD was able to attend more than one excellent SI where she did a lot of pointe work and even learned a variation to my surprise since she had less than 2 months of pointe work once a week when she got to SI.

 

6. Private teacher did not want Studio Director told about pointe work because Studio Director has strict policy on when a student can begin pointe work based on age and DD is 1.5 years too young.

 

7. Studio Director found out about pointe work and banned her from pointe work on studio premises for at least a year because she says we could sue her if DD gets injured and ruins her chances at a professional career since she would be violating her school policy on age when pointe work can begin.

 

8. Then, to my surprise, the Studio Director put DD in beginner pointe class but will not let her wear pointe or pre-pointe shoes. DD told me, and Studio Director confirmed, that DD must rise to pointe, let go of the barre and hold position for 3 seconds during this class in soft slippers. First class this week and she did this 3 times. Studio Director says all students must be able to do this before she will allow them to do pointe work. I believe they will be doing this exercise every week until June. FYI, DD's big toes are longer than all the others so she is supporting her full body weight on just her big toes in soft slippers.

 

Please note that I am making no judgment calls on how this was/is being handled. There is obviously a difference of opinion at the teacher level on pointe work and I don't want to get into that as I believe it is an internal matter they need to work out. However, you needed to know the background so you could understand why she was on pointe and is now off pointe and give me your informed opinions. Please focus your answers based on the following questions:

 

A. Is is dangerous to rise and hold en pointe in soft slippers as I described?

 

B. Is it detrimental to start pointe work, progress so far and then be pulled off for a year?

 

Thanks in advance. I have no intention of challenging the Studio Director since its her school and she can run it as she sees fit, but as a parent of someone who seems to be lucky enough to actually stand a chance of becoming a professional ballerina, I need to make sure my child is not being injured or improperly trained.

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Not a dancer - but mom of one with feet/toes like your child's. Mine is and has always been solid on pointe, but unlike many of her friends, has difficulty standing, pain free, on pointe in bare feet or soft shoes. This is because of the one long big toe and slanted rest of toes. She says to tell your daughter not to do it if it hurts her!

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Fairydancer, Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers! We are delighted you have found us and look forward to your participation in our many discussions. Do take some time to look around the site, drop in on whatever threads and discussions strike your fancy, check the Stickies at the top of the forums, and review our Rules and Policies. This is a great community!

 

This topic is probably more of a technique issue--for our esteemed Teacher Moderators--and maybe should be moved to the Parents of Under 13 forum (I am assuming your DD is under 13 because of the "1.5 years too young" comment.)

 

But, let's let the Teacher Moderators make that decision. I can guess what their answers to your two questions will be, but I'm sure you'd rather hear it from them. :blushing:

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Fairydancer, I moved your post here because, as dancemaven said, it is more of a technique and teacher parent issue than one for the medical moderators, although they can also weigh in on it here.

 

I know you only want to hear the answers to those two specific questions, so I will address that, but I do have a problem with any teacher, private or otherwise, putting a child on pointe without the consent of the main teacher or AD of her studio. I think it is not a good thing to do something like that without her knowledge, especially if you are happy with her studio and teacher(s).

 

As to question #1: It can be dangerous, and I would not do it with my students. That said, I have known people who could do with no problem and it did not seem to do any damage. The problem is that I don't think it should be taught as a given that everyone should do it, nor do I think it is at all necessary to be able to do that in order to be strong on pointe.

 

#2: No, it should not be detrimental to start and then stop for a year, especially if she is at an age often considered too young for pointe work.

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Guest pink tights
6. Private teacher did not want Studio Director told about pointe work because Studio Director has strict policy on when a student can begin pointe work based on age and DD is 1.5 years too young.

 

Fairydancer, just how old is your DD?

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I'm no expert but if it will make you feel any better...

 

without going into detail, my daughter was a beginner on pointe (last May) and is now having to wait (until they decide she's ready) before she can go back on. She told me yesterday that 2 new girls at her studio (from another studio) that were previously on pointe at their old studio were "cut off" (her words) as well until further notice. Half the girls in her class right now are on pointe and half are not. They still attend pointe class anyway and do everything on demi pointe. I trust the instructor. They are probably the most well-regarded in my state and the more I get to know them, the more I'm comfortable with their decisions.

 

Hope this makes you feel better.

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I'd love to hear from some medical moderators on this. Please post replies. I have a call in to the ortho but he was closed for the holiday. I hope to hear from him on Monday.

 

Also, another "too young" student has been put on pointe covertly. Unfortunately, she couldn't wait to tell my daughter and the mother was asking several of the older dancers' mothers where to buy pointe shoes so it won't be a secret for long I'm sure. Obviously the teacher and studio director need to work this out as there is a glaring difference of opinion.

 

FYI - Even though I am in no hurry for DD to be on pointe, I spoke with the director again about this since there is such a strong difference of opinion between her and her teachers (other teachers disagree with the director also) and my DD was cleared by an ortho. I just don't see why she should be held back when she is technically and physically able to move forward with her training. Well, the director emphasized that she has set an age limit because she "had to have a cut off somewhere." She has this same policy of age or school grade for level placement - it is not based on technical skill/ability. Also she says there are technique requirements for pointe work (my daughter passes all of them too) but I have noticed that every child who reaches that "magic" age the director has set goes on pointe. Some of them are very pulled back and can't straigten their knees or maintain turnout or balance once on pointe. There is more than one girl who is significanlty overweight. There is no requirement at this studio to be examined for bone age or seen by an ortho or physical therapist. We did that for our own peace of mind since she was younger than I thought she would be when starting pointe work and I wanted to make sure it was okay medically.

 

The more research I do the more it seems to me that we need to find a real pre-professional school to move our DD to or risk ruining her chances (which are slim to begin with) at a professional career as a ballerina.

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I think that you have proposed a good solution to your own question in your last paragraph where you mentioned that you needed to find a real pre-professional school. Good luck in the hunt for one. Beware that there a tons of Dinkles out there, masquerading as preprofessional schools. Make sure that you visit and take a trial class before you commit and/or get sucked in the AD. I believe there are a few good threads that already exist about what comprises a good pre-professional program.

 

As for the pointe/no pointe hoopla, I personally don't think there should be a rush to put these gals on pointe. Mine was started too early and while nothing horrible occurred, it was unnecessary. I was clueless then, but knowing all that I know now, I would have put it off for at least a year. I also would not want to be involved with a school where a teacher is clearly breaking rules set by the AD. Even if you believe that your dd should be one of those that should benefit by the broken rule, in the end, it's the wrong decision, because it's all so secretive, so 'hush hush' etc. This sort of situation always ends badly.

 

You have not mentioned your dd's age, and we can only assume that she is on the younger end of what age might start pointe. A brief delay while you sort all of this out for her and try to find another school won't hurt and in the long run may be the best course of action you can take. Staying out of the studio/school dressing room drama and the gossip mill will save your sanity and the mental health of your dd in the long run.

 

Merde to you and your dd as you embark on this journey.

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Guest pink tights
I just don't see why she should be held back when she is technically and physically able to move forward with her training. Well, the director emphasized that she has set an age limit because she "had to have a cut off somewhere." She has this same policy of age or school grade for level placement - it is not based on technical skill/ability. Also she says there are technique requirements for pointe work (my daughter passes all of them too) but I have noticed that every child who reaches that "magic" age the director has set goes on pointe. Some of them are very pulled back and can't straigten their knees or maintain turnout or balance once on pointe. There is more than one girl who is significanlty overweight. There is no requirement at this studio to be examined for bone age or seen by an ortho or physical therapist. We did that for our own peace of mind since she was younger than I thought she would be when starting pointe work and I wanted to make sure it was okay medically.

 

 

Promoting students just because they have reached an age requirement, is just as troubling as promoting an entire level. Each child should be judged individually--some 11-12 year olds may be physically/technically ready, while some 13-14 year olds may not be, or vice versa.

 

If a child can not maintain turnout, or straighten her knees, she has no business going anywhere near a pair of pointes.

 

Sounds like you have realized the need to find better training for your DD. Even if her chances of dancing professionally are slim, she still deserves to have the best and SAFEST training available. Is there a professional company with an attached school nearby? If not, try calling the nearest professional company and ask if they can recommend any reputable schools in your area.

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