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My son and pointe


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My son is 11 and has been dancing for many years. Ever since he was old enough to know what pointe was he wanted to do it. He asks me frequently, especially when we are in dance shops, to get him pointe shoes. I have never said "no" to him, but referred him to his ballet teachers and the older guys at the school.


Not being the most self-confident, he was afraid to talk to the teachers. I told him I would ask his male teacher at the time if he would consider it. The teacher said he would talk to the school director (a female-ex-dancer). Over the months there was never a clear answer. A lot of vague "ok, but after this or that performance." In the meantime, his only male teacher joined the company and the boys class, in which my son was the only boy, was cancelled. The school did not want my son having a "private" lesson due to the expense for the school. He was put into the all girls class where they have pointe. That is a whole other topic.


Anyway, after Nutcracker this year, I approached the director about the lack of training for my son and his frustration with being the only boy. At the end of the discussion, I mentioned the pointe issue. She said, "well, it would have to be something done in private. I don't want boys waltzing around the school in pink shoes." Ugh.


My heart sank. For many reasons aside from my son's pending disappointement. That statement said so much about the director, the school and its lack of mission, ballet as a "Girl's Club", etc.


My concern at this point(no pun intended) is that my son asked me to purchase him a souvenir autographed pair of pointe shoes of one of the principal dancers offered as a fundraiser for the company(silly me thought he liked the woman as a dancer). SO, I bought them. He started to put them on and try to dance. Then one of the older girls gave him a pair that she was done with that were closer to his size. He continues to wear them around the house. I am afraid that without training, he is going to injure himself. I know that guys take basic pointe to strengthen their feet in the more "progressive" schools and companies. I don't know what to do. Should I take the shoes and forbid him to do it? Any advice would be appreciated.

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Therese - there are a few threads about boys and men en pointe. Look through the men's forum if you can't find them on the parents of boys forum. Some say it's OK, some say it's not. My DS tried it. He asked to try it, his AD decided all the boys should try it - but only at barre. She did, however, insist that the shoes be dyed black, which was farily easy to accommodate.


The novelty wore off for DS after a few months. As a parent, I liked it because otherwise the boys weren't getting as much training as girls. If technique is 1 1/2 hours followed by 1/2 hour of pointe, then the boys are losing 1/2 hour!


Anyway, I think a lot of boys are interested in trying pointe shoes. Others with more experience will chime in I'm sure, but my initial reaction is that he certainly should not be using others' shoes. DS bought his after a fitting with an experienced woman, so we felt he was safe. You don't know if the shoes your son is using are at all appropriate (fit wise.) I would, in fact, forbid him to wear those particular shoes. If he is really insistent, perhaps you can recommend to the AD that he would have his shoes dyed black.

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Therese, please read the other threads on this subject before making any decisions. The teachers here have stated many times how we feel about this, especially with male dancers of that age. :o

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My concern at this point(no pun intended) is that my son asked me to purchase him a souvenir autographed pair of pointe shoes of one of the principal dancers offered as a fundraiser for the company. . . . He started to put them on and try to dance. Then one of the older girls gave him a pair that she was done with that were closer to his size. He continues to wear them around the house. . . . . Should I take the shoes . . . .


therese, I will leave the larger question "pointe for boys?" to Major Mel, Ms Leigh, Ms. vrfanatic. I do not have a DS, so I have nothing to offer you from experience.


BUT, as for your more immediate question about whether you should take the pointe shoes he has been trying to dance in away, I do have something to offer as a parent of a DD who has danced en pointe for several years.


DO take those two pairs of shoes away!!! The souvenir pair you purchased as a fundraiser are old, discarded shoes that no longer had any life in them----otherwise, the original owner would still be using them for rehearsal or class. Typically, if the shoes are dead, but the shank isn't broken, the shank is deliberately broken so as to discourage the purchasing kiddo to not attempt to dance in them. Those shoes were molded by many hours of wear to the original owner's feet. They are in no way safe for your untrained (in pointe) son to try to wear.


The same holds true for the pair one of the older girls gave him. I would be surprised if the girl gave him a pair of pointe shoes that she herself could still dance in. (If she did, she is quite generous because a pair of pointe shoes runs upwards of $50-80 and most dancers aren't in a position to just replace them for the heck of it.) And, even if the shoes are 'close to his size' that is not good enough. Pointe shoes must fit precisely and provide support. Shoes that are 'close' seldom do this and discarded, worn shoes can't provide sufficient support---especially in one just beginning.


So, whether your decision is to let him try pointe or not, take those worn, discarded shoes that belonged to someone else away from him if he tries to wear them.

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Hi Therese,


While my son has never been interested in pointe, his best friend sure was. His friend currently dances on pointe at a different studio and absolutely loves it. This was something he dreamed about for years, and begged his teacher to let him do for quite a while before she relented. His parents have no problem with it, minus the cost of pointe shoes ;). His teacher requested he dye his pointe shoes black, as Cheetah mentioned.


The problem my DS sees with the situation is that his friend is not taking boys classes to learn actual boys technique, and he is at an age (13) where that should be happening. Because of the expense of pointe shoes and pointe class, his parents can't afford to take him across town and enroll him in the school where boys technique is taught. So when he goes to auditions, like he did for this summer, he is sort of at a loss when it comes to the boys stuff in the center. That will hurt him in the future, if it didn't this season.


Just something else to consider that may or may not be included in the older thread.

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:shrug: OK, that is simply crazy, if the boy is seriously interested in ballet, which it appears as he is auditioning for SIs, then get him out of the pointe shoes and into a boys' programme asap!!! My DS at 18 has never taken pointe, except once where he tried them on to see the balance difference for partnering work. He has no interest and has developed strong, arched feet over the years simply through class itself. IMO, a boy does not need pointe work to succeed or strengthen their feet/arches.
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I agree DancemomCA - my son had beautiful feet before he tried pointe. For him, it was a whim, probably driven by being bored during the last 30 minutes of class, when the girls were doing very slow pointe work at the barre. He was welcome to participate (in soft shoes), but it got old after a while. There were not alternative classes, like mens, for him to take. His whim lasted a month or so. It's now out of his system. It's not as much fun as he thought.

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Boys have enough of their own work cut out for them. I think that every guy fools around with pointe to a greater or lesser extent in his dancing time. Very few ever get to use anything connected with it in any meaningful way onstage. When the girls start learning pointe, it's time for the boys to get their own time at the ends of classes to start practicing the things that they will be using as dancers. They can do it while the girls put on their pointe shoes. When the girls start getting dedicated pointe classes, it's time for dedicated men's work (grand batterie, temps d'elevation, MANY pirouettes, and so on.)

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ok...i read all this and the great link to a previous discussion on the issue. the whole "should boys take pointe or not" issue could go on for days. it wasn't so much my intent for that to happen. rather, i am concerned about my son's safety and growth.


i think the part about my encounter with the director was my disappointment with the underlying attitudes towards men and boys in general. her comment came along with another one like "he shouldn't worry about not having boys class. we dont want to him get that syndrome where male dancers think they should have this or that because they are used to having everything handed to them i.e. scholarships, parts, jobs....." well, forcryingoutloud, the kid is only 11! yikes!


so, as you can see, the pointe shoe discussion just brought out my frustration about him having less training than the girls and his boredom during their pointe classes. as i mentioned previously, that is a whole topic in and of itself.


so, the shoes go in the garbage and we keep looking for alternatives to the company school. there isn't much option other than sending him away. there is plenty of time for all that. thanks.

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Better he gets away soon! In a new teacher, not knowing what or how to teach a boy might be excusable on the grounds of innocence, but when a teacher hangs out the shingle and doesn't know, then it goes over into culpable ignorance. If they don't know that, what else don't they know? :D

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I would simply tell him that he's not quite ready for pointework, and that he has a few more years of good training to go before he should worry about it.


He'll be dissappointed, yes, but he needs to understand that he can hurt himself if he tries before he's built the necessary strength.


I would however, find a different school for him. The lack of classes specifically geared towards the male dancer, and the fact that he's the only male dancer there are 2 good reasons to leave, but the lack of support for him is my biggest concern.


Keep us posted! :D

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therese - my son was in the same position as yours at about the same age. He was also left without anything to do during pointe class, he did stretch at back of class, but eventually he just came home. The teacher meant well, but just didn't have the time to spend with him on boys work while teaching pointe. It was frustrating to end up with less training time. He eventually wanted more intensive classes and he did end up leaving home at 13 to train at a larger school with a boys' program. But in our case, I must say that the AD was quite supportive and did train him privately with an extra class a week for almost one year to prepare him for auditions.


So yes, I can empathise with your frustration about the lack of support from the school. Many times a school with just one boy will say those things only because they don't want to lose their only male dancer! But in the long run, if your son does want to keep on dancing he will need more intensive training. Keep your options open and start looking around for a school with possibly more boys in your area. Good luck!

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Thanks everyone. I have looked for another school. The other schools that advertise boys classes are small studios that aren't associated with a company. I have to say that the one thing that aboslutely keeps him going is the opportunites he has had to perform with the professional company.


This is a well known large city company he is training with, not a little one. The current administraion came within the last few years came from another major urban company. We aren't talking small potatoes. I really have gotten the idea that the school lacks a mission. In fact, there is no mission statement. I DON'T believe it is training YOUNG dancers for a career. Maybe when they are well into their teen years, but not young ones.


I was thinking maybe they wouldn't dedicate a dancer to him because we are on partial scholarship. I would hate to think that. When there have been other boys there, like last year (there were 6 all together), they were all minority kids, like my son, and all getting scholarships. Maybe they don't like minority kids. I can't believe that is the case. They all left after a year.


By the way, there ARE older boys there. The closest in age is 12 but he was bumped up 2 levels a few years ago when the old admin was there so he could be with the other boys. The high school program has at least 10 boys. A couple are even african-american.


There is good news in all of this. When I had my bad encounter with the director, I asked her if she could manage to give him a grad student, or even a high school student who was on work-study once a week. She finally agreed to every other week with a male grad who happened to have an interest in teaching as long as it didn't interfere with his training/performance schedule. I told her that my son has dedicated all of his free-time to this school and agreed to be an extra when they needed kids in the company performance. You know, HOURS or rehearsal, missing school and sleep just for a weekend performance (and no curtain call). It was time they started showing him a committment before the light went out. Once its gone, its gone. Then they will have NO boys for another 5 years. She was NOT happy.

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Eh, she'll get over it! :grinning:


There are some real gems of schools that aren't company-affiliated, that do have a clear mission statement, and do have a record of producing dancers for pro companies from the ground up. Just something to think about. :)

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