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Perhaps An Unusual Question


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I'm half expecting everyone on the forum to start yelling at me what I probably already know, but I was just wondering...And sorry if this gets wordy.


When I was a small child until the age of fourteen, more or less, I was always very tiny for my age. I did a lot of horse riding and gymnastics that were leg intensive, so I was rather strong in my legs, and I had very long feet compared to how tiny I was (I started wearing adult size 8 at age nine because of my foot shape.) One of my more peculiar abilities (a childhood talent, more or less, like a different sounding whistle or wiggling one's ears) was my ability to stand on the very tip of my toes, like a ballet dancer in pointe shoes...except obviously I wasn't wearing pointe shoes, usually I wasn't wearing shoes at all.


Now, I used to find this very comfortable at the time and I had no problems whatsoever maintaining this tippy-toe way of darting around.

When I hit puberty at fifteen, my body shape completely changed and all my gymnastics ability vanished, as well as my ability to stand like that on my toes.


After seven or so months of ballet classes for the first time in my life, I've noticed that my ability to stand on demi pointe is very good compared to many other beginners I started with (though when compared to the old dancers who still do some barre exercises in their pointe shoes I'm still a total noob.) I've also noticed that my childhood talent of standing on the very edge of my toes, with my feet pointing straight down, is back. I can't maintain it for very long, and it's the kind of thing I don't try to do during class because I know that is unwise...


But I was wondering if anyone had ever heard of this before? Is it something that I subconsciously forced as a child or are my toes just very strong from the get go? Thank you for reading this rather long winded query... XD

Edited by DanceWithoutACause
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Guest Pas de Quoi

It is not unheard of - I have quite a few young dancers (aged 7 and under) who can do this. Of course I strongly discourage this as it can lead to injury. In their case, it is because they are small and light, and I predict they may not continue to be able to do this, as they mature, become heavier, and their body shape changes.


For mature bodies, it is still possible and not that unusual. I myself can do this. My feet are very strong and all the toes are basically the same length, providing a lot of support. When I first went on pointe, before being allowed to get the shoes and commence pointe work, I was required to be able to rise to full pointe in my ballet flats (first position, facing the barre) as were my other classmates. I don't recommend this now, and don't have my students do so, as I still think it can possibly cause injury.

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DanceWithoutACause there most definitely are some people who can do this, I watched a teacher who was teaching a beginner pointe class releve up onto her bare feet with absolutely no problem at all and then continue to demonstrate the remainder of the exercise. I remember being so stunned that I took my spectacles off stared again, cleaned my spectacles and put them back on, I am sure that my jaw was hanging on the floor the whole time; amazimgly no one else seemed to find this quite as mind blowing as I did.


Is it the norm, I would definitely say no! I have never again seen anyone do that. We have some seriously talented young ladies (and some older ones too) in our studio but I have never seen any one of them even attempt this; I can tell you for a fact that there is NO WAY that no matter how hard I worked that I would ever be able to do this!

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The young daughter of two of my teachers would do this (she was four-five at the time). We had to constantly remind her to "bend your feet at the toes" so she would rise to demi-pointe not full pointe! She is the offspring of two former professional dancers, so maybe she has the genes for really strong feet.

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Aaa thank you for the replies everyone! This knowledge is actually a little reassuring.

Hopefully this means that with many years of ballet, pointe may be in reach? That's cool.

In any case, merci!

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There are lots of posts on this forum and the web about whether you may or may not have the potential to go en pointe. I've noticed that there are lots of gymnasts that can go on their "tippy-toes" without pointe shoes, but it's not fully pointed in the sense that it would need to be in an actual pointe shoe. While strength to withstand pressure is important, don't forget that having the entire body, leg, ankle, and foot strength is even more important. Flexibility in the ankle is one of the first indicators that might eliminate a person from being en pointe - so if you really want to get excited about the potential in the future for pointe (not withstanding all the other crazy-important factors you'll need from years of training), try checking out your ankle flexibility first! All that "standing on my toes" barefoot stuff means very little when it comes to your potential for pointe. However, if your ankle is not flexible enough now in adulthood, it may be super difficult (if not unfeasible) for you to attempt pointe work. As Clara76 knows, I'm one of those 'barely made it' flat instep types! Phew. Sadly, it's daily therabanding, foot/ankle manipulations, and tendus for me to be able to stay on top of things (literally).


Here are some helpful links:




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Guest Pas de Quoi

I agree 100% with you LaFille: I am glad you are doing so well - I had one very very amazing teacher regularly tell us "Pointe work ends at your toes - everything above it (he meant back, legs, core) is crucial." Also, as you stated, unless the requisite technique level has been achieved, one will NOT be successful on pointe no matter how strong all those other things are. I also agree (I'm sorry this is so, but it is) about the ankle flexibility being so important.


I have had some very dedicated, very strong, very well trained dancers not be able to do pointe work because of the structural* inflexibility of their ankles. Try as they might, they just cannot get all the way up onto the box in any shoe they purchase. They cannot rise correctly - they must push their hips forward to get up onto pointe and once there, they must "hold on" with all the wrong muscles.


*I indicate "structural" because as you also mention above, much can be done with consist dedicated work to achieve a greater amount of flexibility if tightness is the only problem.

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Thank you so much for your reply LaFilleSylphide! I will be more attentive to my ankles. I usually used to have somewhat of a rolling problems when I was doing tendus and sometimes even on relevé, but that seemed to be because (as my old instructor put it) I was trying to hard "to pointe." I'm working on lengthening the inside of my ankle so that when I stretch I don't stretch my foot and my ankle in the wrong direction.


To be very very honest, I'm actually not in ballet to one day hop up on pointe (though that would no doubt be lovely!) My goals are more along the lines of being able to do fancy jumps and the like, and to stop twisting my torso unattractively at the barre during grand battement in class next week! Haha. But thank you very much for the links! I'm going to take a look!

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I could do that when I was a little kid, too--right up on my toes. I also ran around on demi-pointe 99% of the time. Although I haven't taken ballet for 20+ years and never took much of it, a dancer friend w/ whom I roomed in college used to make me point my foot so she could show it off to her friends, all of whom would whine that they wished they had my feet, LOL. Since I'm returning to ballet (which I never did a lot of anyway) in my late 40s, I'm glad to have SOMETHING going for me, LOL. I have high arches, even toes, and apparently "great feet." Since I will have crappy turnout (no way around that!), I'm grateful for having "great feet." ;)

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