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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Debating with self about pointe


morninglorie

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*Wasn’t sure if I should stick this here, or in the pointe shoe forum? Sorry, mods! Move if necessary!*

 

(Also, sorry this is so long! :whistling: )

 

I’m having a debate with myself, because something happened that I didn’t expect to happen for quite awhile--a couple of my teachers (including the AD) have suggested I start pointe again. I feel like I need a sounding board, because I keep second-guessing myself!


Quick background: I did pointe for a long time as a teen (started at age 10 and did it full time until I was around 18). My dancing (and pointe work) has been on/off for the last decade or so. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere on these boards, the last time I did pointe was 6 years ago (I returned to ballet in July). During that 6 year break, I tore my meniscus at work and got surgery, only to recover and then RE-injure it (jammed it back/hyperextended it). It’s much better now (lots of PT!), though certain things still bug it occasionally (mostly bending at weird angles--plies, etc. are fine). As of the beginning of this month (Oct), I have been taking 5 classes a week (was doing 3 prior), plus doing rehearsals for the winter show.

 

At the beginning of the month, the AD asked me about going back on pointe. I told her I had concerns about my knee, and that I wanted to be sure everything was nice and strong again before I re-started pointe since it had been so many years. She understood my decision, though she suggested I take the pre-pointe/pointe class that would be starting (and I have).

 

The teacher of the new pre-pointe/pointe class is new to our school, and during the first class I told her that I was not yet on pointe, about my knee, etc. After only the second class, she talked to me about going on pointe and I reiterated my concerns. She said she respected my decision, but thought I was very strong. She said that she didn’t want me to hold myself back, and not grow because of those concerns (she feels that I get nervous in center and hold back, when I’m otherwise very strong). That really made me think--was I being overly cautious because I was afraid?

 

I talked to my AD about it again the other day, and I told her I felt like I needed to pass some kind of test. She laughed and told me I had--that I was strong and had “beautiful, clean technique!” I started considering that maybe I should break down and get some shoes. If/when I start again, it would be slowly (only the 1 pointe class a week for now).


I mentioned all this to my mom and she made me second guess everything yet again because she said, “I just don’t want you to feel like you’re being pressured into it.” (I don’t know that I do...I think if I really wanted to wait, the school would be fine with it; part of me really does want to start again).

 

Am I being paranoid? To clarify, the knee rarely bugs me, but I think I worry about it since I had the second injury. I feel like I should trust my teachers and what they see, but I have a habit of second-guessing my abilities. What would you do? Any advice/thoughts?

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Do you want to return to pointe? If so, why? It might be helpful to explore your thoughts about these questions.

 

You don't sound particularly keen. Maybe you're not really interested right now. Maybe you will be in the future. Maybe not. I don't see it as being mandatory for an adult dancer without personal goals (exams, performance roles, just to try it, etc.) that require it, so there's more to your decision than just being technically ready.

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I'm sort of in the same boat as you, though the difference, for me, lies in the fact that I never did pointe, and I'm older than you. Still, the studio would love to put together an adult beginning pointe class with a few of the students in the intermediate adult division, and I was included in the group of people who might be candidates for it, depending on interest.

 

On the one hand, certainly, if I want to learn it, now is the time. I am not getting any younger and if I ever fancy learning it in any way, starting now is better than later. It's an important element of the aesthetic and I'd be remiss not to learn what I can about it while the opportunity is still there. But on the other hand, ballet is perfectly fine to me in soft shoes. I love it either way, and I'm not about to start performing or anything.

 

In the end, I decided to get fitted for pointe shoes, and actually bought a pair. However, I've not yet said a word to the studio or my teacher.

 

I have two daughters who take ballet. One has been on pointe for several years, but the younger one is just starting pointe this year, and she's extremely excited. They introduce it to this level in February. She would be beside herself with excitement if mom started then, too. So maybe the answer is that I wait until then, and do it as a fun bonding experience with my younger daughter--we can compare starting to learn, how to put them on, balancing and learning how to pull up out of them and use them properly, begin to do releves, etc. If it works out for me, I can keep going, and if I don't like it, I don't have that much more time this year and I don't have to start up with it next year.

 

For you? I don't know. You have the pointe experience already so it's not like you'd be "missing out" on a big element of the dance form by never getting on pointe from here on out. I say that if you have a particular reason for it (you can't see ballet without it, you want to stay generally in "pointe form" for one reason or another, you simply like it, etc.) then do it. Otherwise, I see nothing wrong with hanging up your pointe shoes for good. On the other hand, it's not like you can't try it and then stop if you don't find the strength returning, it's too painful or not enjoyable enough for you to continue.

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If you want to do pointe but feel like you need your body to be able to pass some sort of test before you take the risk, how about you contact a physical therapist familiar with dancers' needs and ask them to assess your strength? I understand your reluctance after injury, and I think this is really the only way you'll find the kind of test/reassurance you're looking for.

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Guest Pas de Quoi

I know I've mentioned this before ..... but I still think one of the best resources out is Lisa Howell's book "The Perfect Pointe Book" available on Amazon.com. It's quite good at giving dancers guidance in preparing for pointe. There are self tests and many exercises.

 

Here is the link: http://www.amazon.com/The-Perfect-Pointe-Book-pointe/dp/1452857407

 

You are wise to ascertain for yourself that you can take up pointe work again, without risking injury.

 

When a dancer is well prepared, and has the correct shoes, dancing on pointe can be very fun and rewarding.

 

Good luck to you!

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I think the important question to answer is DO you want to get back on pointe? Regardless of what your AD thinks and while I understand the concern about your knee, would YOU want to dance en pointe again if that wasn't an issue at all? Only you can answer that question and I think insidesoloist had a great idea about checking with a PT about your strength to help ease your fears a bit.

 

That being said, I am constantly asking myself the same thing. When I started focusing on ballet here at my current studio (probably about 6-7 years ago now) I had NO intention whatsoever of ever going back en pointe. Of course once I really focused on ballet, I started missing pointe. Then an adult beginning pointe class became available and sure enough I found myself buying pointe shoes after 19 years! You certainly had more pointe when you were a teen than I did (I had 4 years of one 45-minute class per week at a Dolly Dinkle studio - neither I nor my parents knew any better), so that certainly helps you.

 

It's been about 3 years since I started back en pointe (with a regular 30 minute class per week, plus the very occasional 45-minute class with the teens) but I still don't feel as though I am strong enough to perform en pointe. I didn't expect to, given that I was never properly trained until I started at this studio and our pointe class is *only* 30 minutes. However, it is something I will continue to strive for - even if it never happens. I know part of my problem is confidence - my teacher has mentioned a few times that I have the capability to do something (good alignment, fully on the box, etc.) but she can tell that I am not confident that I can actually pull it off. That is also usually the time when I'll start questioning my decision to keep putting those pointe shoes on at all, ha ha. It's something I know I need to work on because she has said that pointe is probably about 25% ability (once you are at the level to dance en pointe) and 75% confidence.

 

And I do second Pas de Quoi's recommendation on Lisa Howell's book "The Perfect Pointe Book" - it is really a great resource. My oldest dd used it when she was getting ready to start pointe and I will certainly show it to my youngest dd who will likely start pointe in another year or two. I found it helpful for me as well and will still do some of the exercises recommended here and there.

 

Good luck with your decision!

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Wow! Thank you all for the wonderful suggestions and comments! It gave me a lot to think about.

 

Gav--Your questions had me stuck for a bit. I do want to return to pointe, but I had a hard time coming up with an answer to "why?" I think maybe because I did it for so long before, it feels like my ballet life isn't complete? Interesting to ponder!

 

NoTwoSnowflakes--I'm glad I'm not alone in this boat! :D You make an excellent point (no pun intended) about the fact that if I started again I could always stop. I think it would be fabulous for you and your daughter to start pointe together!! You should keep us posted about what you decide :)

 

Insidesoloist--I like this idea! My only worry is that I live in a smaller town (with no professional dance companies), so I'm not sure how many PTs in my area will have dance knowledge (and what my medical insurance covers as far as PTs go). If I'm allowed to go to a PT insurance-wise, I think I may message the PT I had for my knee injury and see if she could maybe recommend someone? I need to do some investigation!

 

Pas de Quoi--Thank you! I actually own Lisa's book :blush: (that's me hanging my head in embarassed shame!) I had started working my way through the exercises, but got off track with other things! I'll have to take it up again (though I still do doming, piano toes, and the toe switching while I brush my teeth). Sometimes I'm not sure I'm the best judge when I'm testing myself...maybe I'll talk to the AD about it (and/or the other teachers) and see if they wouldn't mind helping me along?

 

DancinMomof2--If my past injury wasn't an issue, I would definitely want to do pointe again. I do feel like it adds a whole new level to ballet/dancing--a whole new set of skills to learn (or re-learn). I need to break down and re-read Lisa's book, and do the exercises!

 

Again, thank you everyone! :wub: You gave me some great advice and avenues to explore (and made me do a lot of thinking!) I've decided to wait a bit (maybe after the new year). While I do want to go back on pointe, I think I need a bit more time to get myself comfortable again. There's enough crazyness going on right now with rehearsals and such, and that way it gives me more time to work on my strength--and time to go through Lisa's book and exercises, and look into a PT! Thank you all again!

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