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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Pointe classes: how long on pointe?


Guest Zarafa

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Guest Zarafa

Some adult beginner friends have recently started pointe classes. They started with 1 hour a week. They spend that full hour en pointe, and some of it in the centre.

 

Whilst they are with an experienced teacher of ballet, that teacher has never taught adult beginners on pointe. I am concerned that an hour seems an extraordinary time to spend doing pointe work if you are just beginnning. When I started to learn as a teenager, we were allowed to do pointe work for just 10-15 minutes to begin with, gradually building up to a full class. We also were not allowed into the centre until we were 100% secure en pointe at the barre, which none of my friends are.

 

I don't know whether I am worrying unnecessarily as it may be different for adults, so could someone who has more experience in this area give me some advice?

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I don't know anything about the subject, but in my school the adults too begin their pointe classes with 15 minutes of pointe as part of a technique class, and spend all of that at the barre in the beginning.

 

An hour on pointe for a beginner sounds very scary to me! (Actually, even the fifteen minutes sounds scary at this point, but fortunately I'm far from qualifying to pointe work...:))

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The word "beginner" and "pointe work" are, IMO, diametrically opposed and do not belong in the same sentence! Pointe work is not for beginners, adults or anyone else. :mad:

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Ms. Leigh,

 

when I spoke of beginners in my post ("An hour on pointe for a beginner sounds very scary to me!"), I meant people who are beginners in pointe, not people who are beginners in ballet. :) The concern about the original question remains, though.

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Jaano, the original question started with "some adult beginner friends", therefore I had to assume we were speaking of adult students who are at some stage of a beginning level. :)

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Just to put in my 2pences worth ;) at our school, there is a pointe class. It is one and a half hours long. You wear pointe shoes, but don't have to, and you do not spend the entire one an a half hours on pointe. You just break them in at the barre and learn to dance wearing them. Most of the adults actually just dance demi pointe in them and only go up onto pointe at the barre and for echappes, and then take them off in the center. The more advanced students in the class can go up on pointe when they see fit. You cannot do every single ballet step en pointe, it would make a really boring ballet, so although your friends class may be an hour, they probably only spend 15 minutes in total up on pointe throughout that class, a lot less if they are beginners. The trick is learning to feel comfortable wearing your pointe shoes for non pointe work, it is a totally different feel than wearing soft shoes.

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And if you don't develop a pretty solid technique first, in soft shoes, then it is not only very difficult to do so, it is somewhat unlikely that you will ever develop really good articulation of the feet and good use of the muscles in the feet when jumping. Which is just one of the reasons that I don't feel that pointe work is appropriate for most adult students, especially those beginning as an adult, and trying to do it long before they have developed a strong enough technique.

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Yes, this is going to be one of those, lets agree to disagree situations.

 

I totally respect your opinion though as a ballet teacher, and I find it difficult to put my opinion forward on this topic as it took me 10 years of ballet to get to the point (;) ) where I could do pointe work...so I am totally on Ms Leighs side about this.

 

However, seeing an adult dancer going on pointe and how happy they look..through the tears...I can understand the 'need' for adults to do this. You and I Ms. Leigh (and a few others on this partiicular forum) were priveledged enough to have the opportunity to do ballet and pointe work at the right age, so many others did not. We only offer good advice, and believe it our not we truely do you have your best interests at heart, even when we say, "It's just not right to do pointe work, or we really don't like this". It's difficult for those that have had years of training, to say "yes its ok for you to go on pointe just because you have been doing ballet for 6 months or a year',especially when you have just seen an adult dancer try and do pique turns with bent legs. It's distressing to see someone wobbling and falling off pointe,just as it must be for the person wobbling, it's just like hearing a musician hit the wrong note.

 

So, understand, we all appreciate your desire for pointe work, but you have to also appreciate that a correctly trained musician,like a correctly trained ballet dancer will seldom hit a wrong note.

But, it is nice to see so many determined adult dancers out there :)

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Guest Zarafa

To clarify, I didn't mean they were adult beginners: they have all danced for 2-3 years approximately 4 times a week. I meant they were beginners en pointe, not beginners to ballet. Sorry for the confusion.

 

But, Xena, I watched the class and they really do spend that hour en pointe. They do releves at the barre, echappes, pas de bourees (including pas de bourree pique, which involves standing on one leg) etc. It is not a normal barre in any sense. It is exclusively a pointe class. It is not like the class you described, something which I would have no problem with.

 

My difficulty is not with them wanting to do it, it is with the level of the class they are being taught. I have stated to them that perhaps they might talk to their teacher and ask for a class along the lines that you suggest and that I am more familiar. As they are adults, obviously this decision rests in their hands. I hope for their sake they are sensible about it, but they are all so excited about starting pointe that I am not sure common sense with triumph!

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