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Help With Pointe Readiness


TheCheckWriter

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Please help. Our DDs attend a school that takes a very conservative approach to pointe readiness. The girls have been taking ballet classes three days a week, plus jazz one day a week and pre-pointe (half hour class) one day a week. At their SI's, not only are they the only ones not on pointe, the teachers at these SI's are looking at their feet and the strength of the bodies and are asking, "Why aren't you on pointe yet?" and telling the girls, "You should be." These girls are 12, going on 13 this year, one as early as the Fall. Our studio feels that girls aren't ready for pointe until 12, but the problem is, the girls will be "evaluated" for pointe work from September to October, and won't even begin their pointe classes right away. This is a problem when auditioning for SI's in January 2011. The girls already feel they are behind when they look at the girls this summer from other studios who are 11 and 12 and they are very worried they will be at a huge disadvantage if they haven't had enough pointe classes by the auditions. They also realize that the pointe classes they will take beginning in November will just be a few minutes standing in pointe shoes and not actually dancing. At our studio, a guest lecturer who talked about fitting pointe shoes told the girls that professional dancers are up on pointe at least by 11, implying that all of our girls won't have a chance of becomming professional dancers. When the girls panicked, the director dismissed the comments and insisted she was doing the right thing. I do understand that many studios put the girls up on pointe before they are ready and then risk injury. I completely understand everything in the sticky, but I still feel like our girls are behind. If the SI instructors (two girls at a big name school in NY) are saying they should already be on pointe, that they are definately strong enough, is our studio being too conservative? Should it really take a couple of months to determine pointe readiness when the girls have been dancing at least four day a week at this studio all year? Shouldn't the instructors already know if they are ready and if they need one last check, can't that be done in one class? I am starting to wonder if waiting until November has more to do with the studio being busy with Nutcracker than making absolutely sure the girls are ready. :)

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Wow. I don't have any answers but I'm in the same boat. I'm looking forward to reading responses from the experts to your question.

 

My DD is also going on 13. I've read many articles suggesting that 13 or even 14 is perfectly fine to start on pointe. The real danger is starting too early.

 

We will be starting to audition for SIs 2011. I expected my DD will be in the minority with little (if she starts this Fall) or no pointe experience but I didn't realize she may be the only! Yikes!

 

I've read the sticky before too and remember feeling reassured. I'm going to go back right now and reread. Does it say anything about being 13 or older, no or little pointe experience and specifically how that effects SIs evaluations? I also did a search on the SI FAQs forum for "pointe" and am still working through it. Directions anybody?

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Okay, I found some info. Under the Summer Intensives forum, General Information, go to "pointe" something or other. The initial question was like ours but almost all the answers were along the lines of "12 and under don't need to be on pointe." Of course, that doesn't help us with girls 13 and older. One answered that most SIs expect girls 13 and over to be on pointe.

 

Experts out there, is that true? I have a feeling that it is. My next step today is to email the SO to ask what DD can do to get her started on pointe this Fall. My DD is taking ballet classes with her this summer but the SO is off this week. She's very receptive to emails.

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Okay, here's the thing Moms. BECAUSE the girls are SO ready, when they do go up, they will advance very quickly and be able to do a lot more a lot more quickly. My (somewhat educated and experienced :) ) guess is, that as long as they have the strength and maturity, along with okay feet and good placement and rotation, they will be up with or surpass the students their age by time for the next SI auditions! Seriously.

 

Now, that said, there is absolutely no reason for them to have to wait after they return home. They should be evaluated the first day, and if the teachers agree they are ready, buy their shoes the next day. They have done the waiting, and if they are truly ready, there is no reason to wait until late fall or January. Talk to their teachers, and if they do not have a VERY good reason for not starting in Sept., I would start looking around for another studio. But, it sounds to me like their teachers are the smart ones, in terms of waiting until now. They might be carrying it just a tad too far by not going at the beginning of a school year.

 

So, talk to them!

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Thank you so much. Very reassuring response.

 

Now I have to start adding pointe shoes, rosin, ribbons, bags, etc. to the price tag of dance lessons. Careful what you wish for right! :)

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Speaking from my older daughters experience, she was 13 when she first started pointe, and when starting, she looked like she had been in pointe shoes for long time. All the girls in her class were able to get up on their pointe shoes with barely any wobbles and weren't gripping the barre for balance. Her school has a similar philosophy and don't start their dancers on pointe until 12 or 13yrs.

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Askaherm: Did your DD also audition for SIs at 13? Was she the only with little pointe experience? How much of the SI audition was on pointe? If she made the SI she wanted, was one year or so enough for her to follow the pointe class in her SI? So sorry for all the questions. Your sharing of your experience is very helpful.

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Askerham, it sounds like your experience was exactly as Ms. Leigh described, that becauase your DD waited until she was older, she had an easier time. She had done all the necessary work beforehand to make pointe work more natural. I would also like to know about your experience with SI's. For me, the issue is not so much starting at 12 or 13 but waiting until a few months have passed this year before beginning. I am comforted by Ms. Leigh's comments that our girls may very well catch right up to the girls their age despite starting later, but I would imagine this would take at least 6 months, wouldn't it? If they don't start until November, will they even be able to audition in pointe shoes in January? This year my DD attended three SI auditions, and because she auditioned in the younger groups, wearing pointe shoes did not even come up. But, if she wants to audition for the five week Walnut Hill intensive this January that is 13 and up part of the audition will be in pointe. From reading BTFD, I know this is true for other schools. In fact, I can remember the requirements for many auditions were that the girls bring pointe shoes. I wouldn't want her to only have a couple of months under her belt just standing in pointe shoes and then be expected to dance en pointe for an audition. That sounds like a recipe for injury. I also don't want her to have to audition in demi-pointe when everyone else is en pointe. Would they even take her in that situation even if she is technically above average?

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That is why I suggested, above, that you speak to the teacher at home school about starting her immediately in Sept. There is no reason to wait, at least according to her SI teacher. Therefore, if the home teacher does not want to start her, you have every right to ask why, and explain why you are concerned in terms of Jan. auditions.

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Ms. Leigh, We will definately talk to the teacher/ballet mistress as well as the director to find out why. I'm afraid the reasons will not be good ones, and am dreading looking for another studio if they are not. Since every child in that level will have to wait a few months before the can begin pointe and since that has always been done, they may be very resistant to change. The desire may be to keep all girls starting at the same time. Maybe a couple of girls need a little more time to be ready?

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When my DD went to SI last summer a dancer was there that had not been on pointe, and the SI put her on pointe. If there is time at the SI perhaps this can be addressed.

 

My older DD started pointe at 9 1/2. She was strong, but lacking ankle flexibility and developed bad habits (like not pulling up, dancing on bent knees) that she is still working to correct.

 

My younger DD is 10 1/2 and still not on pointe. I wanted to have the studio move her up last year, but they didn't. I am trying to tell myself that going on pointe at age 11 will be ok, she will have all this extra technique training and that never hurt anyone.

 

Listen to Ms Leigh; when they do get their pointe shoes, their readiness will catch them up quite quickly! Besides, auditions are done first in technique shoes, then in pointe shoes, and auditioners will see quality techinique in the first part of the audition and will surely recognize inexperience versus weak technique in the second part.

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An SI should not put a child on pointe for the first time without discussing it with her home teacher first. That would be highly unethical. :huh:

 

(And 11 is still VERY young and certainly not at all late. It is, in fact, highly recommended that the EARLIEST would be 11.5. Personally, I prefer 12 to 13. :happy: )

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I will observe something. I live in an area with many dance schools. They range from Dolly Dinkle, competition, graded ballet (some better than others), and pre-pro. The economy being what it is, these schools compete for tuition dollars. There are several schools who succeed in luring students by putting them on pointe when the student is not properly prepared or ready. It's not always easy as mom, but I have faith in my DDs teachers to trust they know what is best for her.

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wow Checkwriter - I could have written your original post nearly word for word. DD (12 and a half) will be going on pointe in the fall. At her SI performance a few days ago, I keep thinking about the next year's auditions, as I watched the level above her perform. DD's home school is a well-known pre-pro school which turns out beautiful dancers so I try to stay away from the second guessing game. But it is hard for me to imagine that in 3-4 months dd will go from not knowing how to even put on a pointe shoe to doing a full center combination wearing them. Her school seems to also move into pointe as a full class. They wait until October (I think) then do only a bit at the end of class a few times a week. There is no possibility of changing their schedule, so I just have to hope for the best. I'd be interested in hearing why other schools wait instead of starting right when school starts. Maybe because some kids have lost strength over the summer?

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That is why I suggested, above, that you speak to the teacher at home school about starting her immediately in Sept. There is no reason to wait, at least according to her SI teacher. Therefore, if the home teacher does not want to start her, you have every right to ask why, and explain why you are concerned in terms of Jan. auditions.

Although you were directing this to someone else, I took your advice and emailed my DD's home studio teacher right away about our concern regarding auditioning for SIs. She agreed and said she had already made up her mind to have my DD start on pointe at the start of the school year in September! We are very excited. I know I'll be in tears when she puts on her pointe shoes for the first time. I'll have to control myself or she will never speak to me again. :blushing:

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