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July 17, 2008 in Parents of Dancers under 13
The best thing to do is probably talk to your daughter's teacher and without questioning her judgement just ask if she is approaching pointe readiness as you are considering an SI next year and need to know whether or not to apply.
My dd went to her first SI's this summer and at one (ages 12+) there were a few that did not have pointe shoes yet but were receiving them in the fall. They simply danced in their technique shoes during pointe class.
At the other SI all the girls did have pointe shoes (ages 11-14) but some were very new to pointe and were allowed to remove them if they were not strong enough or uncomfortable for the length of class.
I'm sure it varies program to program but I would imagine that there are many 12 year olds new to pointe.
My guess on that would be you will get answers all over the place. Many girls are put on pointe way too early, but with that said, each dancer should be judged individually. A very highly respected boarding dance program puts them en pointe as early as 8 yo. My daughter was 9 1/2 yo when her teacher approached me about placing her in pre-pointe. She has never had a problem but we were very carefull in the first year about her time on pointe, her shoes and her other activities (she was also a soccer and hockey player). The only disadvantage we found was that she started to run "funny" in soccer after a year of training and people would comment to her about it. A friend who was a PT told us it was the way the muscles were used for pointe. After a lot of talk with parents all over, 12 yo seems to be the average age.
Start now finding a DI that will not care about pointe and where she will not be alone on flat in pointe class. Sounds like you are happy with her training so stick to the teacher who knows her best. Ask other parents at your studio- you cannot be the only parent there who has faced this.
I would suggest taking some time this fall to contact the SI programs for which your DD may audition next spring. Often their websites disclose some standard information about pointe during their auditions, however, I am sure that they will be able to address any questions you may have about what is expected at the time of the audition and SI program especially since there IS a range of age when girls begin pointe. It would be less confusing if there was one U.S. age standard similar to that of the Vaganova Ballet Academy.
My DD attended ABT YDSW twice and we observed that students were assessed for placement in pointe or pre-pointe classes. They were placed accordingly regardless of whether the student had begun pointe at their year round ballet school, and consequently some were withheld from pointe classes. Speaking specifically about those in my daughter's levels, the teachers did not begin pointe for those who had not already begun pointe.
I agree with yankee. You can contact the programs to see how they handle a dancer not yet on pointe or just receiving pointe shoes at home. An SI should ideally be an extension of your daughter's training not in place of what your home teachers believe especially where starting pointe is concerned.
In the lower level of programs, you can sometimes see dancers in technique shoes during pointe class or taking an additional ballet class in place of pointe. You just need to find the programs that will allow for that.
The problem with trying to determine if those are correct who wait vs. those who go up early is that you don't know the problems until later in life. Someone whose child went up early and all seems well at age 14 may not have resulting issues until the later. Why chance it when those who "go up" early or late end up in the same classes the last two years of high school when it matters most anyway? And those who are "made for pointe" will catch up so quickly it won't matter when they started either.
What I meant by my comments were that there were indeed girls not en pointe at SI's and that she would certainly not be the ONLY dancer not yet wearing them. That in our limited experience the teachers did not expect the girls to #1 be on pointe and #2 be super strong in the 11-14 year old category at the intermediate level.
Hope this helps.
I'm not sure where you got the idea that 12 is the ideal age, as there is really no "ideal" established, to my knowledge. Eleven and a half would be the earliest to even consider it, IMO, and waiting until 12 or 13 is, or should not be, a problem. I don't think you want a program where they expect 12 year olds to be experienced on pointe already. A just turned 13 year old, which is what I think your daughter will be next summer, might have only a few months of pointe, or may not even be there yet. It should not matter. If it does, write that program off your list.
If your daughter is placed on pointe just prior to the auditions, then she should tell the teacher, when they put the shoes on, that she is new on pointe and has only done a few things at the barre. Or, if she is not on pointe yet, but will be before the SI, then tell the auditioner that too.
One Vaganova program told me that if we were in St.Petersburg there would be other 12 yr olds not en pointe
This statement is not the case for Vaganova Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia. Please consult the Kostrovitskaya book "The School of Classical". The program of study is published in the back of the book. The first year students in Russia are 10 and begin pointe in the second half of the year (late January). This is based upon students who study ballet 6 days a week, 4 hours a day. If they are not on pointe at age 12, they are not studying within the State Academic system, pursuing a career in ballet.
Please understand, I am not recommending that American students should be on pointe at age ten, I am just correcting perhaps misunderstandings as to what is the course of study in Vaganova training.
This was the case with my dd when she went through auditions. Since she was not yet on pointe, or brand new to pointe during audition season (she went en pointe right in the heart of audition season), she just told the auditioners the situation, and none of them asked her to demonstrate pointe during the audition. She is right now at her SI, and she does pointe 4 days a week, and they placed her at the appropriate level for her skills. I observed her classes today for the first time, and there were several girls of varying ages who either did not do the pointe class, or they did it it slippers.
The way I see it, pointe work is kind of like reading. Way back when our kids were learning to read, parents were often talking/fretting about how little Suzie Q, was reading at age 3, when little Janey didn't read until age 5....by the time the kids are in 6th grade or so, they are all reading at the same level! Same goes for pointe work...if the child has the aptitude and the facility, she will be fine. So no, I don't think waiting until the child is older an antiquated concept.
From what I observed at the SI that DD attended only one child was not en pointe. There were many girls in the 12-14 year old range that were dreadfully unprepared for pointe work. During the barre portion, I noticed pronation, alignment and turnout issues, inability to straighten knees....by the time the pointes shoes came out, those issues were magnified. To be fair, hopefully some of the girls just went up just went up, however, I do know that there were many, who at 12 years old, had been up for several years. Still, with the issues that I observed, those girls had no business being up. From PM's, conversations with other BT'ers, friends, and fellow teachers, I know this is true and a problem of many summer programs, not just the program my DD attended. I think this is a great topic and an issue that seriously needs to be addressed by summer programs.
I am curious as to why these girls are accepted to the programs. I wonder if it because the younger ages are not do pointe at the auditions? Wouldn't the the teachers conducting the auditions notice the lack of alignment and so forth on demi pointe? Perhaps some of these programs are not really very selective after all.
I have wondered about this too...
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