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to prepointe or not to prepointe?


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What do you think of dedicated prepointe classes? Can dancers start them at any age, or should they wait until dancers are eleven or twelve? Are they needed only for the year immediately prior to going on pointe, or are they useful even before that if a dancer is younger or still has other technique improvements to do? Should they always follow a technique class or is it fine to take them alone? Do they take the place of a third weekly technique class or should they just be extra? If they are about muscle strengthening, is it better to take two a week than one? Some seem to require special shoes and some don't, some are different lengths of time, some are combined with technique class, some are separate. Some schools seem to go directly to pointe classes without a prepointe stage. I am confused. I would appreciate learning more about the prepointe/pointe situation. Thanks, Snow

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Hi snow,


I can't answer all your questions, but I CAN say that in quite a few schools there is no such thing as a dedicated pre-pointe class.




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I will also agree that most schools (at least around here anyway) do not dedicate a time for pre-pointe. My dd did have a whole year of pre-pointe. She is RAD trained and we had to buy the soft toe shoes - we bought ours from the Sansha website. My dd loved her pre-pointe or demi-pointe classes. When she was nine she was taking 4 classes a week - one being the pre-pointe class. For my dd these classes really helped her and when she received her first pair of pointes at 10 - she took to them like a "fish to water." That is just our experience.

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DD's home studio did/does have a dedicated pre-pointe class once a week. It lasts 45 minutes following a technique class at the proper level. Participation is strictly by teacher's decision.


The first semester the girls spend in regular technique shoes, doing specific exercises (piano toes, monkey toes, etc) as well as many, many tendues, and additional releves at the barre. (It was awhile ago, so I don't remember everything---besides watching class was like watching grass grow . . . ) She really worked on fine-tuning things, balance, technique, what-have you that they would need once on pointe. She worked on getting them to really focus on the muscles they would be challenging more.


Second semester, they got their demi-pointe shoes (pre-pointe shoes, soft blocks, whatever you call them)---the shoes with blocks but no shank. They learned to sew them properly, tie them properly, and began working in them on demi-pointe, both at the barre and across the floor.


After that, most of them moved on to regular beginning pointe class the following fall (and some that summer in their summer workshop).

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We have a 'pointe strengthening' class which is for students en pointe and those preparing for it as we don't have enough students to warrant two separate classes.


They do rises, releves, foot strengthening exercises etc. Depending on their ability some children use the barre, some do it in centre, some do releves 1 foot to 1 foot, some do 2 feet, some do 2 feet to 1 foot etc.


In answer to your specific questions:


This class is in addition to the other 3 classes I expect my students to take. I expect all the students attending the class to go en pointe within about a year for those that are not already en pointe.


We have the class in between two technique classes of different levels so some children have it after their technique class and some have it before which isn't ideal - they are aware that they have to fully warm up prior to it though.


One class a week should suffice but two would probably be more beneficial. Our students wear their regular soft slippers in class if they are not en pointe but if somebody wanted to wear soft blocks/demis I wouldn't mind at all.

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When my DD was at a "pre-pointe" level her teachers noted that the material taught at that level was itself considered to be "pre-pointe." The exercises given particularly at the barre were given not only to continue building upon foundational positions and alignment, they inherently helped to increase the strength necessary for eventual pointe work. She transferred to a school which offered pre-pointe classes and required pre-pointe shoes, but in retrospect she would tell you that there was no additional benefit to either of them. She felt that it was the exercises themselves when done correctly that helped her to prepare for pointe.


Later when DD began actual dedicated pointe classes many of the same barre exercises were repeated while wearing pointe shoes. Now nearly three years later there is still a barre warmup with basic echappes, etc., but then they move on to more advanced center work en pointe.

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Thank you all for sharing your experiences. It sounds like there are a variety of different ways of working toward the same goal, and it helps to have more information about what different approaches are like. Plus, I have to admit I'm happy that maybe we won't have to buy more new pairs of shoes...at least not yet!

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  • 1 month later...

Last year at my daughter's studio, her class did what was called pre-pointe for six months. In this pre-pointe class, they wore pre-pointe shoes and did exercises at the barre and floor exercises. In the center they did not go completely up. Instead it was more to get the kids used to wearing pointe shoes. Personally, I think it really helped the kids. They are stronger en pointe than those who didn't have the pre-pointe class at that age. The pre-pointe shoes were only ~ $50 and they were able to wear them for the whole six months.

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My 10 year old daughter is in a pointe level where the students wear demi-pointe shoes for the barre, and regular split-sole shoes for center. They have three 90 minute classes per week, and a 30 minute pointe class once a week. There are pros and cons to using the demi-pointe shoes. The pros are that they have to work the feet harder to bend the shoes, and there is some familiarity with how to break in and sew the shoes. I'm sure the teachers could comment on this a little better. The down side, from what I've been told, is that because the shoes are somewhat bulky, that unless the teacher is really paying attention, the students may not be getting up into a full releve position. They don't go en pointe in these shoes, but aim to get into that high releve position necessary for pointe work.


My daughter spent about 8 weeks at 3 different camps over the summer. She was not en pointe yet, but was placed in pointe classes, which she did "en flat". Her strength improved dramatically, and her releve got a lot higher. She had to do a lot of foot strengthening exercises, because she overused the big toe flexor, which is painful, and common. She felt self-conscious initially, becasue she was the only kid in her class not en pointe, but after a while, it didn't matter.


When I recently attended a dance medicine course, the dance therapists recommended doing single leg releves, placing hands on the wall in front of you, and coming up into a full releve, holding for 5 full seconds, and slowly lowering down, which is a simple exercise. It doesn't require any equipment, and the correct technique is something that can be checked by the child's teachers. By using the wall instead of the barre, you have to work a bit harder.

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DD's school did not offer pre-pointe per se. There was a class level at which most of the students began pointe during the year, usually in groups of 3-4 so the teacher could work with them in a small group setting.

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