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Ballet Talk for Dancers

No pointe?


Guest LizzyA

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Guest LizzyA

Before I sign dd (age 10) up for classes for the new semester I'm trying to figure out where we are heading with all this. I spoke with one of her doctors on the phone today and he was probably the most direct, telling me outright that dd does not have the feet for ballet - hyper flexible/over extended or something of that sort- and that she would have to "pay the price" if she were to go en pointe. The other doctor who saw her simultaneously left more hope with a "we'll reassess annually but possibly not safe until 14/15 years old". Either way, while her class mates are already starting pointe it will be a long time, if ever that she will go en pointe and then I'm not sure what that would look like.

 

DD is still determined to pursue her dream. I'm just wondering how it needs to be modified or if that's even possible. Is it foolish to continue to pursue classical ballet or ought we to simply seek out some type of modern dance instead? She's also very interested in learning choreography. Is that sufficient reason to keep her in classical ballet classes? Right now she is angry and heartbroken but not willing to give up trying. And I suppose since 25 seems over the hill to the average 10yo, she's not very sure why 'paying the price' would be so very terrible since "I'm going to get injured as a dancer at some time anyway"! :devil:

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While I cannot comment on your DD's feet in terms of the hyperflexibility and overextended issues, was this a sports physician you were talking to or your regular physician? And was the reason for the visit to check her for pointe anyway or was she having problems she was being seen for.

 

If she is 10, there is still room for pointe to happen later. Many schools don't start them until they are 12. But, I wouldn't be so quick to squash her dreams. When DD was about 11 and still a gymnast and dancer on pointe, she had to see a foot doctor for issues from gymnastics who looked at her and said, "you will never dance, your feet are too flat and your forefoot too wide you will have foot problems before then". She cried, I cried because she did and we all went back to dance class. Now we're not discounting foot problems later, and no, she doesn't have the foot for NYCB. However, she is dancing and never stopped a beat.

 

If this is her dream, and there has been no injury, there's nothing wrong with getting a 2nd opinion first and seeing what happens over the next year or two.

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First of all are these Dr.s dance medicine specialists? Her foot may very well not be strong enough for pointe right now. Right now is the key part of that statement. At 10 her whole body including her feet will go through dramatic changes over the next many years.

 

Do her teachers think she has "good feet"? Even if she doesn't have good feet there are plenty of other factors that go into making up a classsical ballet dancer. It's a good idea to keep her off pointe for a while if the bones in her feet aren't ready. But they will in all probability get strong enough in 1 to 3 years or so.

 

Right now focus on getting her the best quality training you can. If she decides at 16 - 19 that she's not suited for ballet then she will be well prepared for other dance forms. "Ballet is the Latin of dance." She's got plenty of time. Now is way too early to get worried about her potential.

 

Let her persue her dream now, worry later.

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Hi LizzyA,

 

I'm not completely sure I understand the question at hand. Is it with respect to ballet generally, or pointe specifically? Ten is pretty young for pointe, and there are lots of previous posts and threads on the topic here - you may want to spend some time reading about what others have said.

 

Regarding your daughter's feet, you may want to post this somewhere that teachers would be more likely to see and comment. If the issue is that her feet are hypermobile - she must experience this in other places as well (such as knees and hips)? If so, you would want to be very cautious indeed to avoid injury. In terms of explaining it to your daughter, I know it's hard for her to understand how devastating injuries can be, but you certainly wouldn't want her to be in a situation where constant chronic injuries prevent her from dancing at a very young age. In fact, where feet are concerned you want to be kind to the ones you'll be walking on for the rest of your life.

 

You are quite wise to consult with physicians before proceeding. Do you think it would be helpful for a Dr to talk to your dd about her feet?

 

m2

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Lizzy, she is too young for pointe, IMO. Therefore, it's a moot point right now. Let's see how strong she is, how much technique she has, and what her feet are like at 12. I know some teachers put them in pointe shoes at 9 and 10 years old, but we do not believe in that here, even if the child is well suited. Besides the bones not being ready, in most cases, before 11.5 years old, there is very little chance that she is technically ready by 10. How many classes a week is she taking, and how long are the classes?

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Yes, I agree with all of the above- 10 is awfully young to go en pointe, and I would give it some time, unless she has extremely inflexible ankles, to the point where she cannot execute any extension of the ankle, or very little.

 

This picture:

Feet

Catches a dancer in an awkward position (The dancer closest to us), but it should give you a clear picture of the position that would be bad for pointework if it's the farthest a dancer can manage to pointe.

 

Here is another example:

Feet

 

Here are feet that are acceptable for pointe:

Feet

 

And here:

Feet

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Guest LizzyA

Thanks, Vicarious, Momof3,

 

the direst prognosis came from the doctor most experienced with dance medicine. He's 75 but has been treating pro. dancers for a long time and was recommended by dd's ballet school. I'm going to talk to her ballet school teachers tomorrow to see what they think ( this doctor talked to them in person about her condition) but I appreciate some objective opinions from this site first.

 

The other sports foot doctor who works with the retired expert and saw her simultaneously confirms bunions, foot deformity, ankle and foot instability with open growth plates and skeletal immaturity. His position is more let's wait and see from year to year. He has less knowledge of ballet specifically but did predict that if she went on pointe now she'd be having surgery at 15.

 

His diagnosis agrees with her regular podiatrist who knows very little about ballet.

 

Finally I have some vague word of mouth analysis from some type of 'expert' who only saw her medical records, no x-rays, and not the child who apparently said something to the effect of "the child will be in pain anyway so let her dance if that's her dream".

 

I guess I'll let her continue and see in what ways the school will accommodate her. But it is probably good that she is going into this with her eyes open to the fact that this may not work out as she expected. In that sense, maybe this is a blessing.

 

Thanks again!

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Guest LizzyA

Re: age /pointe.

 

Yes, I agree that at 10 she is too young (and the ballet expert doctor tried to explain that to her school also - he's baffled why "The Russians" don't get that). She'll be 11 in April so I'm quite happy to wait a year or so before even trying pointe.

 

However, it was the "feet not made for ballet" part of this that has me questioning whether to start steering her in a new direction at this point in time or to allow her to continue along this path knowing that she might never make it to her definition of being the "best ballet dancer she can be".

 

Thanks for all the comments and suggestions!

 

Lizzy

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Lizzy, the Russians do it because in Russia the students start ballet with daily classes, and they are hand picked students who have perfect facility for ballet. Some of them have not realized yet that things don't quite work that way in this country. :devil:

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I guess that I have to add comments to the posts above. I've read all the posts about not starting pointe work too early and have had many concerns that my daughter may have started pointe too young (age 9). I did not know about this site when she started, and if I had probably would not have let her start that young. I guess it was has worked out well so far. We took her teachers recommendation that she was ready for pointe work at age 9 (and yes they were Russian) and she has had no problems so far (12 next month). Her feet/legs look like the good pictures in the posts above!! Of course, even at age 9 she was taking techinque classes 5 days per week and at 10, 11 and now almost twelve she's taking 6 technique plus 3 pointe, 1 character and 1 pilates class each week ( + rehearsals). Also, maybe she was handpicked. Her AD was at her elementary school looking for more students and told her that she should come to his studio to take classes (she was 7 and the only one asked to come to his studio and would not let up until I got more information about this ballet program). Maybe she's been lucky, but it seems that if the teachers are really good, maybe they know more than the uninformed parents (or maybe they know how to teach the students to help them with weaknesses??)

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wannabe, it is certainly possible that she is one of those rare ones who has the facility, and who also received much more training from the age of 7 than most in this country. It is also possible that she could escape the damage that might come later. Many have.

 

However, some of us still do not feel that it is in the best interest of the child to start point before the bones have ossified enough to provide the necessary strength, and before the student has the knowledge and technique necessary to dance on pointe. Many teachers start them very, very young, but spend a very long period of time with the students doing only a few minutes in the shoes, and totally at the barre. They seem to think that this is okay. I do not see the point in it...no pun intended. If you wait until they are both strong enough and technically ready, they will be ready for much more pointe much quicker, and it will be a lot easier for both the student and the teacher.

 

Therefore, IMO of course, the time spent in pointe shoes very early on, would be better spent becoming stronger in basic technique.

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If I Recall Correctly, Lizzy correct me if I am wrong, her DD is the youngest in the level that is going on pointe. I know at least 2 of the girls are already 11 and 12. A lot of us in the level down are watching to see how this is handled because our DD's are not going to be ready next year. Our level is een more spread out age wise then the level above. They range from 10-12 IIRC and we range from 8(just turned) to 11. Admittedly all but my DD will be at least 10 by the time their class goes on pointe but there are several who will probably run into similar problems to Lizzy's DD, they are simply not going to have the bone maturity yet. Their class meets 3 times a week for 1.5 hours each, with one .5 hour of pointe and 1 hour of historical. This is actually one day less a week than last semester. Our level meets 2 times a week for 1.25 hours each, once a week for 1.5 hours and historical.

 

edited to remove IIRC and replace it with if I recall correctly as not to confuse anyone.

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I really do value the opinions of all here and that is why when first reading posts from this site I was concerned about the early age DD started pointe. The posts concerning age for beginning pointe have since convinced me to have her feet checked yearly by her family doctor. Her teachers also look at her feet without shoes frequently and so far so good. I don't want to offend anyone here, but really believe that pointe readiness should be for the individual dancer- not just based on age. Again, now that I'm more informed by reading posts on this site, I believe that 9 is probably too young for most. I really do look forward to reading the posts on this site so I'll be more informed about the future ballet related concerns that I'm sure I'll have as a parent of a very dedicated ballerina!!

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It should always be based on the individual dancer and not just on age...however, unless the dancer is unusually physically mature for 9 or 10, the bones are not ready. And, unless they have very unusual (for this country) training circumstances, they are also not technically ready. The early years are much better spent developing the knowledge and technique, and then when they are really ready for pointe, it will happen SO much easier and SO much better and So much quicker. I have never, ever, in way more years than I want to discuss, found any advantage in the later teen years for those who went on pointe at 9 or 10, over those who started later, including even as late as 13. I had one I kept off until 13 and she ended up a principal dancer in a good professional company. She was not a "natural", in terms of exceptional facility, and she had to work harder for it. She did. And she came out stronger in the end than most of the others who had more facility.

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