Jump to content
Ballet Talk for Dancers

Putting Adults on Pointe


Gayle

Recommended Posts

luceroblanco

I blame the teachers and not the adult students. Although the teachers may feel some pressure with adults to put them on pointe before being ready, they should not give in. I know it is easier said than done. The teacher should take that moment as an opportunity to enlighten the student on WHY she is not ready for pointe, and what she needs to do to be ready to get on pointe. The teacher should also suggest that any students over 40 check with their doctors (some studios require bone scan) as well. If I were the teacher, honestly I would make any student who did not listen to me and insist on doing pointe, not allowed in the class with the pointe shoes on, or at the very least I would present them with a disclaimer to sign that I don't approve of their getting on pointe and that they are doing it at their own risk and protect myself and my studio from any liability. But that is assuming that you get a teacher who knows what she/he is doing and not like the teacher that Lau described who put her on pointe right away without even evaluating her technique.

 

Honestly being a woman in her 40s, I know what my body can take and what I do not want to risk. This level of risk is different for everyone, but I think most women mid 30s and older do realize that they may have some limitations and need to be extra careful and make sure they are strong enough and consistent enough to do certain things in ballet. I believe if they are given the FACTS about pointe work they would not rush into it before they have had the appropriate amount of classes or level of technique. However, if they have never danced before or done any research they aren't going to know what it entails unless the teacher is up front and clear about it.

Link to post
  • Replies 103
  • Created
  • Last Reply
  • Administrators
Victoria Leigh

With all due respect, lucerblanco, not all adult students are realistic enough to accept their own limitations. There are some who feel that because they are adults they can make their own decisions, and if they want to dance on pointe they will put on pointe shoes. When the teacher says no, they leave and go somewhere else where it will be allowed. That is, of course, not a reason not to say no, and I certainly did that, AND explained very clearly why. There were some who would not accept that, which then became their problem, not mine. They did not put on pointe shoes in my classes. I think that there are some who are definitely delusional. They were not the majority, but there were a few in my days of teaching adult classes, which, by the way, I really enjoyed and had a wonderful group of adults for a long period of time in Florida.

Link to post

I think the fault may lie with the adult dancer or the teacher or both to varying degrees in each situation. After all, adults are free to do their own research into pointe work and the pros and cons of it, but many (and I'll even hazard to say most) won't. I know when I returned to ballet at the age of 20 (I did not go en pointe before I gave up at 12), I certainly didn't know any better regarding pointe work (I mean, I didn't know that one should have been going to 3 classes a week for at least a year and a half...I think that's the general guideline, right?) and I was fortunate enough to have teachers who did not put me en pointe earlier. Now I know better and I've done research which makes me realise that even in some of the "more cautious" studios around here, completely safe pointe work practices are not upheld, especially in the case of adults. I'm not sure if there is a presumption that because an adult's feet have finished growing, they are stronger than a teenagers and thus precautions aren't necessary :thumbsup:

Link to post
  • Administrators
Victoria Leigh
I'm not sure if there is a presumption that because an adult's feet have finished growing, they are stronger than a teenagers and thus precautions aren't necessary :thumbsup:

 

I don't think that would be the reason with most teachers. I think that they are just not strong enough to say NO, either because they are not experienced enough and maybe even younger than the adult students, or because they need the students. When you are trying to make a school work there are compromises that good teachers sometimes have to make to survive. Some of them are not so bad, or at least not potentially harmful. But putting anyone on pointe, children or adults, when they are not ready or they do not have the facility is crossing the line in terms of compromises, IMO. Pressure from parents, pressure to put every child in a class up at the same time, pressure from adults who do not belong in pointe shoes but don't care because they just want to do it anyway and refuse to believe they are not ready or that they can't, is just not an excuse for a teacher to do it. But, it happens in many schools, and it's not a pretty sight. I took students who came from other schools off pointe quite often. Smart ones stayed, some did not. A large professional school can afford to do that. It's a lot harder for small schools.

Link to post
Guest Pas de Quoi

I guess my feeling is that it is necessary for anyone - from young teen all the way to adults in their 40's and beyond - to be prepared for pointe by having a solid foundation of good technique which includes strength and well as knowledge, and to be able to take actual pointe classes, not just put the shoes on for regular class. I have never had problems with pointe work myself and I am way past the young teen stage.

 

I have a group of dancers who are (gasp!) in their 30's and 40's who are doing very well - double pirouettes, hops on pointe, relevés in arabesque, etc. I never considered that they should be extra careful because of the risks associated with being the "advanced age" of 30 and beyond. In my opinion, there is more risk for anyone (no matter the age) with taking class with an instructor who doesn't know how to teach pointe than with attempting pointe work at the age of 30 and beyond.

 

Also, I have not read any articles about pointe being risky for adults past 40 because of bone density issues and limitations due solely to age - could someone please provide links to those articles?

Link to post
Serendipity

Then there are those of us at an advanced age who know the risks, are back on pointe (taking more than the requred number of tech classes, in my case) and still realize that there's no way on heaven and earth that we'll get beyond a certain level - and we don't try to.

 

I know my background fully prepared me to go on pointe. I know I was told not to by some who hadn't seen me work in class, and am/were looked at incredulously by those who had been professional but now wouldn't put a pointe shoe on if someone paid them exhorbitant amounts. Yet with sensible teaching and sensible working, it's done me well.

 

I also know the benefits that pointe is giving me in terms of a workout as well as the satisfaction of improvement in technique and dance (and what a difference it's made in my arch, too!!!) - even at my advanced age.

 

That said, I am not aiming for things like fouettes. I'll be satisfied to be able to do ballones (for the recital) and a double pirouette on each side - and to cope with the little pas de deux (which is not technically advanced) that is done at ADC in Richmond.

 

A lot of adults at the Richmond dance camp are put on pointe for the first time there. I never critically looked at how any of them do, as I focused solely on myself as a student. I'm not sure if Heidi screens them. I do know that it was described, at one stage, as a dream realized, for some of them. The fact that I can do a two-hour class on pointe (and a reasonably technically demanding one) is MY dream come true, especially with all new-fangled things that make pointe easier (like shoes that actually fit well - and a variety of those to choose from!!).

 

And I like the fact that I'm forced to work harder, and that I get a better workout, in pointe shoes, even when I don't use them to go on pointe.

 

I personally believe that the same standards that hold for children should also be held for adults - if an adult wants to and has the ability, it should be permitted. I've seen kids who I would take off pointe in an instant if they ever entered a class I was teaching regularly - and this is at ALL of the "kid" studios I go to.

Link to post
luceroblanco

Victoria, I will defer to your experience as a teacher, that there are some DELUSIONAL adults out there in the ballet classes.

 

I will look and see if I can find any studies about bone density and pointe. I have only read in passing that some studios require the scans from adults going on pointe. Ostereoporosis does become an issue as women age, so it may be a precaution in some cases, to make sure that if they fall they won't break their ankle or worse their leg or hip.

Link to post

Luceroblanco, if you find something about pointe work and osteoporosis, do please share the links and/or information. I've been going through my materials and haven't found anything specific to ballet, just general precautions for any exercise activity. The American Council on Exercise writes that people with osteoporosis may need to avoid situations that put them at risk for falls, such as hard floors that may become slippery from sweat and step aerobics, as well as certain exercise moves: jumping, spinal flexion, rowing, hip adduction and abduction against resistance, and crunches with the hands behind the head. These all can put too much stress on the bones most susceptible to osteoporosis, which are the spinal column, neck of the femur, wrist, and upper humerus. I haven't found any references to the ankle.

 

I have found among the physical therapy literature an endorsement of ballet (flat) for people with osteoporosis. The balance training and weight-bearing exercise are just the sort of activities they need, although I imagine that they don't include jumps unless the participants are cleared for it.

 

In most of the articles I looked at discussing osteoporosis and ballet, the concern was directed at elite dancers and teenagers who were maintaining strict diets that prevented them from building bone mass.

Link to post

It is indeed hard to tell adults that no, they cannot go onto pointe, even if they were there at their former studio. -sigh-

So far no one has left my classes because of that, but I would have some explaining to do to the studiio-owner if it came to that.

 

Gayle, as you mentioned the guidelines from the Am.Council on Ex.; I was told often by my gynecologist father that weight-bearing exercise was one of the most important things to help prevent bones from becoming too fragile, at any age, but of course more so as we get older.

That may be why there is little mention of ankle-fractures in older people, as -unless they are unable to walk - they will often be putting at least moderate stress on those bones just by moving around normally.

(stress on bones helps in putting down more calcium and other mineral deposits at that site)

Now, why many people also get neck-of-the-hip-fractures as they age.... I do not know!

 

It would be interesting to find out if in cultures where people carry things on their heads if they have bone-thinning problems in the spine.

 

-d-

Link to post
luceroblanco

I haven't found anything negative linking pointe work and osteoporosis. Like you said, ballet (flat) is considered a good exercise to build bone density. I found one article that stated that 30% of women over 65 have osteoporosis and that is a pretty high number. Due to menopause and less estrogen in the system, some women develop it at that point. I think the bone scans required by some dance studios are a precaution and to screen out those with osteoporosis. If someone with osteoporosis falls, they could fracture a bone much easier than someone who doesn't have it.

Link to post

Bone density reduction is site-specific and dependent on the type of bone in that site. The femoral neck is at risk because it contains the types of bone that are susceptible to this kind of loss (trabecular and cortical bone).

Link to post
Bone density reduction is site-specific and dependent on the type of bone in that site. The femoral neck is at risk because it contains the types of bone that are susceptible to this kind of loss (trabecular and cortical bone).

 

Thank you!

 

-d-

Link to post
  • Administrators
Victoria Leigh

I don't think that comparing Margot Fonteyn, who had danced her whole life and was certainly VERY well trained, with women who begin studying as adults makes any sense at all. The questioner in that article also speaks of a class of women who take multiple classes a week and cross train, which would lead me to think that they are not the average adult students. There are exceptions to everything, but this article makes it sound like pointe work is something that can be done by anyone and everyone, and I will take great issue with that, no matter what the age of the student. Dancing is great and is certainly a great activity for adults, but dancing and pointe work are not exactly the same thing.

 

I have no objection to anyone who has years of good training and is technically and physically prepared, and is taking numerous classes a week, dancing on pointe. However, that does not mean that anyone who takes ballet should expect to do pointe. Many adults take one or two classes a week, miss a lot of classes, and do not have the training, the technique, or the physical facility to be on pointe. They should not be allowed to do it just because they want to and it makes them feel like a ballerina.

Link to post

Gayle, thank you for that link! It's an interesting article.

Link to post

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.


×
×
  • Create New...