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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Choosing not to go on pointe


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My daughter is 12 years old and at this time has decided she doesn't want to ever go on pointe. I read the pinned post about pointe work and learned it isn't for everyone. I think this is a smart choice considering she wants to dance, but not be a traditional ballerina. Of course she will continue to take ballet- as much as she can.


She will attend a summer ballet intensive this summer, although we are having a difficult time deciding which one. At 12 years old it isn't too weird that she isn't on pointe, but what about future summer intensives as she grows older? Are their many older dancers that are not on pointe? Do they participate in ballet flats or are they not invited into the summer intensive? I would love to have an idea of how this decision may effect her in the future.

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I'm afraid it will affect her ability in a classical SI program, probably after this year, as pointe, variations, and pas de deux are all an important part of the program. Without pointe work she would not be able to take the full course. However, there are programs in Modern , Jazz, and Musical Theatre that she might want to look into.

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Thank you Ms. Leigh! Is it okay for you to share what these other jazz, Modern, and musical theater programs are?

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I would if I could, but I really don't know off the top of my head which ones have SI programs. The Alvin Ailey School does, probably the Graham School, and some college dance programs. Oklahoma City University has an excellent Musical Theatre and Dance program. I'm sure there are others here who will be better able help you with this more than I can. :) Oh, one of my students went to a program with the Rockettes one year, but she is one of those very tall dancers who is also a great tapper!

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Joffrey Ballet School has a Jazz and Contemporary program in NY,LA, GA, TX. I recall reading a few reviews on BT4D last year.I think it is fairly new so there might be more reviews after this summer. Steps on Broadway has a program but it does include a pointe class that is described as "ideal for beginners" I am not sure if it is mandatory. I do not know about housing. I do not have any experience with these programs myself, I just know they exist. They have web pages.

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We have a couple of dancers at our studio who for various reasons have chosen not to go en pointe. One I know well, her focus is simply not on ballet but musical theatre and jazz, although she does take the minimum of ballet classes per week simply for the technique. This summer she is going to a summer intensive for musical theatre/broadway in Seattle (I don't know if that's way out there, location wise). I can ask her where specifically when I see her next.


The students who aren't en pointe do the ballet classes on flats when the rest of the class does pointe.

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Your daughter sounds very mature for her age. I am impressed with her decision-making abilities!!! That's one child I wouldn't feel the need to worry too much about, provided she remains that thoughtful with everything she does. I agree- it sounds like it's time to get her into some programs where she can find kids with similar focus.


Have a read through our SI forum. There are several programs that offer a focus other than Classical Ballet. :)

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I am impressed with this child too! So many times kids (and parents) are in such a hurry they don't listen to good reason. For he to arrive at that on her own is great.


My DD is also 12 and wrestling with finding a pointe shoe that is "less painful". She looks at battered toes and blisters like badges of honor and it makes me a little bit sad. Also dance would be so much less expensive without pointe shoes, right? I wish she was more open to other types of dance, I take her to modern/contemporary and whatever other style of performances I can find, but still -- she wants to dance in a tutu.

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Thank you all for the wonderful advice, suggestions and compliment Clara and Sugarmama! A pointe shoe that isn’t so painful! Yikes! My daughter is pretty mature for her age and quite decisive, which I admire. She is the youngest of three girls, so she has had the benefit of seeing her older sisters’ athletic experiences and challenges.


She came to this decision because of unfortunate genetics; her hips don't provide enough turn out to be a prima ballerina (we were told that when she began at 6 years old). She is short and quite muscular too, not the traditional ballerina build or Rockette candidate. She continues to work on it though and has improved her turnout quite a bit. She also has fairly flat feet and was recently fitted with orthotics by a specialist who is well aware of dancers challenges. Like her hips, she works on her feet (judges often compliment her “pretty feet”-go figure?). Knowing that her feet are not ideal and knowing she can't be that one in a million ballerina, my daughter feels it is not worth the strain on her feet or time to pursue pointe work.


I feel a HEAVY responsibility to provide opportunities for her to reach her goal of dancing as an adult. She is a hard worker and at the tender age of 12 is making those hard choices to further her dancing! It doesn’t end at not doing pointe. She has chosen to go to almost every extra dance opportunity alone! No friends or teammates because she dances at a small studio and they don’t share the same goals. At first I didn’t want to pursue dance to the next level because there are SO MANY GOOD dancers. They are dressed to the nines, etc. It seemed like such a game. Yuck! Her dance teacher reminds me that she doesn’t have to be the best at 12 years old. She is in this for the long run and all of these experiences are just a piece of her training. She loves to dance, so what do I do?!! I couldn’t ignore it anymore. Too many people including her dance teacher believe she has the potential to take dance further. At competitions or conventions she consistently gets a special judges award for "potential" or is picked for a scholarship in those rooms of over 100+ kids. This always surprises me because she is the dancer in the back or on the side of the large convention room so she has space to dance full out! Not the one fighting up front to be seen. She loves the challenge! She also most often looks like a hot mess because her hair has fallen out because she is working so hard! We recently went to the Pulse and her favorite teacher/dance combo was the ballet teachers. Even though she knows she isn't destined to be a prima ballerina like the ones she admires, she loves the challenge of ballet and what it does for her dancing.


So, you now know why I am so eager to learn what is out there for a dancer and why I am so grateful for everyone’s advice and suggestions! I don't care what she does with her dancing. I just don't want her to be limited because she didn't have the foundation to have this opportunity some day. Thank you again!!

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3girls1dancer, I can't answer your question about summer intensives that don't require pointe, but I wanted to say that I agree with others who have said that your daughter sounds very mature for her age. I would think that her passion, talent, ambition, and maturity would take her far, even without pointe. It sounds like she is on a jazz competition team??? To me, jazz and contemporary seem like a great direction for her. Our studio is primarily a classical ballet studio, but we also have a very strong jazz and tap program. At age 11, DD takes two 90 minute jazz classes per week, focussing on technique (not rehearsal, which is scheduled separately); the next level up takes 3. I'm not sure about the advanced students. Unfortunately, most of the girls who choose to focus on jazz in high school drop ballet altogether (I can only think of one who still takes ballet).


I think if we were in your position, I might encourage my daughter to take all the ballet that she can on flat, plus focus on jazz or whatever other dance styles she enjoys. That way she benefits from the ballet training but has the broad expertise necessary to pursue a contemporary or jazz career. I'd make sure my studio had a high level of jazz training and did not spend the class time preparing for competitions. I'm not suggesting that your studio is not rigorous enough, by the way!! I just wanted to give you some things to think about and a way to compare what your studio has to offer with another studio. I've found it really helpful to compare the ballet training that our studio offers with the ballet training offered at the highest caliber schools to weigh out whether we are at the right place. I know you didn't mention you were thinking about switching studios -- I hope your daughter is already in a really great place. Just some food for thought.


I also might look now at college programs that focus on contemporary or jazz or whatever style she likes, so that she can see what their admission requirements are. Not so that she can apply soon, of course, but because it might help her map out what she needs to do over the next period of her training to get to that level. You could also contact those programs to see what they suggest about summer training opportunities for teens, because they are probably aware of the places that their students have trained.

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