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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Putting Adults on Pointe


Gayle

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luceroblanco

PasDeQuoi: those exercises you mentioned are two that my teacher gave me... I think you are right about the result.

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Here's a dance physiotherapist with a video about arch control. Not THAT helpful, but interesting none the less.

 

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Okay, here goes...

 

I just wanted to say: dancepig, you rock!

 

I have never yet posted on this board (have only so far popped in from time to time to read what other people are saying) but your message struck me as so cool, empowered and inspiring that I had to finally pipe up and say something!

 

I'm 31 years old myself, and only for the past three months have been taking ballet lessons. Except for a little while as a very small girl (like 3-4 years) that's all the ballet I have ever done. Even as a kid, I was interested, but never quite dared to go to lessons (I was a chunky little girl, and ballet just seemed so unattainably fully of skinny & graceful kids!), and same story through my 20s - I kept thinking about maybe trying an adult class, but never had the guts until now. Finally, a few months ago, I gave it a go and have become absolutely hooked.

 

I now attend class at least 3 times a week (usually 4 or 5), usually for 1.5 hours a time (some classes are only an hour), and my two objectives are:-

 

1. to be able to attend Intermediate level classes and to be able to more-than keep up and enjoy

 

2. to at least do a little bit of pointe work

 

both within the next 1-1.5 years. I realise this is probably a very optimistic timeline, but I personally feel that's what "goals" are for: they're supposed to be a little bit over-ambitious so that if you fall short, you still should have achieved something.

 

I am absolutely overjoyed to know there is someone out there who took up pointe at age 50 and is able to not only "just" do a little pointe work but enjoy it and challenge herself and enrich her life through practice. That's exactly what I hope for myself.

 

I worry that there is a little aspect of snobbery that can creep into any conversation about who should/ shout not be "allowed" to go on pointe and I would content that ballet is for everyone, not just the great & talented artists - and that anyone who has the desire & dedication to make a good attempt at a physically demanding practice ought to be given at least a shot at it, unless it's really blatantly unrealistic. I notice maybe just a little bit of judging/ sneering at adults who are considered "unworthy".

 

I would just add my own very personal & immediate reaction to the title of the thread - children may get put on pointe by their teachers, and turn out well or ill through their own efforts. Adults put themselves on pointe, really - and with a far greater consciousness of what they're doing and how hard it really is, I feel - and if they succeed at all it's a real personal accomplishment to be applauded.

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gimpydancer

Now that I have had my first pointe class (see April accomplishments) I am full of wisdom :)

 

Find the most demanding, educated, knowledgable teacher you can find. If this person says you can go on pointe, then go for it. If they say you're not ready, ask them what you need to do to prepare. If they say you can't do pointe work, accept it, there are still a million things to work on. And find the absolute best fitter you can find.

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luceroblanco

GameDansel, you are still very young so probably you will reach that goal. Keep at it!

 

Personally, I don't think there is any snobbery about pointe amongst adults. Most adults who come to ballet later in life don't do pointe. I am at a studio that is only ballet and only adults. There is a pointe class and after some of the morning open classes (attended often by professional dancers as well as amateurs) they do pointe. Most of the people at the studio who are not professionals do not do pointe. There is really no stigma attached to any of us who either decide we aren't interested or who are not given permission by the instructor for whatever reason. There is more to ballet than pointe work-- and some people who take ballet are interested in it for exercises, recreation and may do other types of dance as performers (such as ballroom, musical theatre, modern, tango, latin--we have dancers of all these types at the studio I attend) and ballet is just a way to keep it all together, keep strong and flexible.

 

When I was young I never had any desire to do pointe, because I was more interested in modern dance and ballet was for strengthening and to help me in my modern classes! Now even if I didn't have physical reasons why I'm not a good candidate for pointe, I still wouldn't do it. At this stage of my life I don't want the expense of pointe shoes and classes, or the pain/soreness from wearing them! I debated a few months ago returning to modern dance and decided against it because I didn't want to dance barefoot again and have my feet torn up for months before it calloused over into a protective "shoe" on my foot. I like to dance and I like that it keeps me flexibility and slimmer but there's only so far I want to take it all at this stage of my life.

 

But congratulations to you and to the other women who feel pointe is important to them and are succeeding at it!

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Old Ballet Guy

Are there any adult males who have made it En Ponte? I have that as a desire to help motivate me, but never really expect it to happen.

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Serendipity

Yes there are! There's a fellow who attends ADC who joins the pointe classes every year. He's good, too! :-)

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Just to add some clarity to the Fonteyn issue: at 41 seconds into this video there is a photo of Fonteyn as a child very clearly showing a high instep and lovely arch:

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Serendipity

I see a nice instep but not a lovely arch. We may have to agree to disagree on this piece of information. So many documented sources, right from early on, state information on her "bad feet" that I feel that this piece of information must be believable.

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Yes--the bad use of her feet, which she clearly improved a great deal.

 

The shoe hides the arch somewhat, but it is obviously there, and even the instep alone would make that a good foot for ballet. The photo shows it quite clearly, and I don't need to read someone else's opinion to realise that.

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Old Ballet Guy

I would think it'd be easier to put an adult on Pointe than a child. Adults have the fully developed muscles in the ankles and feet that a child doesn't yet have. Granted an adult would need to gain both the flexibility and strength for Pointe, and this would require taking at least a couple of years of ballet lessons.

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Mel Johnson

There is a downside to "fully developed", too. Many of the fascia, both plantar and dorsal, which are still pliant and soft in younger students become rigid and stiff with full maturity. Some even ossify, making pointework a dodgy proposition in most adults. Some can do it, but the majority can't if they started after about age 25. A simple romp through Gray's Anatomy clearly shows why.

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Serendipity

As an adult who is one pointe after an ankle break 3 years ago, and who did not do it for years prior, I must thoroughly agree with Mr. Mel regarding stiffness that develops with maturity. If the adult doesn't already have a good arch and instep, while it will develop some, in my experience (mine has!), it will not necessarily be sufficient for pointe work.

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le chat noir

I understand that one has to have the strength to go on pointe, but what is meant by "being technically ready"? What level of technique (not in terms of a syllabus!) are good teachers looking for in students before they let them go on pointe?

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