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Ballet Talk for Dancers

How do I go about re-starting ballet and getting back en pointe?


lildropofsunshine

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lildropofsunshine

I'm 25, and I danced in middle school, high school, and college, but it's been about 4 years since I last danced. I really want to get back into ballet, and I really want to go en pointe again. I know it's not going to be a fast process, but I want to do everything I can to make it back to where I want to be. I'm hoping to go to my first class next Monday and go from there. I'm already working hard on strengthening my feet and ankles, and stretching my body out. I even just bought a Gaynor Minden Flexibility Band to help out and it's great.

 

 

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You know you have to take it slooooowly, don't you? That taking it slowly is actually the quickest way, because you should (hopefully) avoid injury. If it were me, I'd take all the Basic/Beginners classes I could find, and keep my leg extensions low, and work on realignment and trying to iron out persistent faults. If you think about it, starting again is a wonderful opportunity to improve.

 

The other thing I've found, as an adult dancer, is that the fitter I am altogether, the better I go in class. So it's probably a good idea to do some cross-training, which includes some aerobic training for all-over aerobic fitness, and some strength training: weights, Pilates, yoga. I've found that doing the running programme, Couch to 5K, but over about twice the 8 weeks they recommend - so half speed! - has been really important for improving my ballet. I run 2-3 times a week, do a strength training class like Pump once a week, and also do a Pilates or yoga class once a week. All of this is partly because I only get about 3 very basic ballet classes a week, but it's a nice mix.

 

Good luck! And have fun getting back into it.

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lildropofsunshine

Like I said, I know it's not going to be a fast process :)

 

I'm a runner, so I've got the aerobic training down already, and I casually lift using skills I learned from doing CrossFit.

 

Right now I'm starting with 1 class a week because well, that's what I can afford! If I could afford more I would totally take advantage of it, but I really can't. Maybe in June when school is over and I can work more I'll be able to take more classes since I'll have more money, but until then, it's 1 a week.

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And you'll know more than most beginners, so you can develop a home exercise & stretching regime too. It's great to have goals - good luck!

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lildropofsunshine

I already stretch and plie and do releves all while doing routine tasks like cooking or dishes, and while watching TV. My extensions are super low right now, but I know that it's better to have them low and in line than high and all crazy like.

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Guest Pas de Quoi

I also suggest you dedicate some time to dancer conditioning and/or floor barre on the days you would normally take ballet class (although there isn't one available to you now). You can do a whole "class" this way, and be better prepared for the real classes you will soon be able to take.

 

Here are some very good books on dancer conditioning:

 

Dance Anatomy by Jacqui Haas

 

Barre Band Conditioning for Dancers available through ABC For Dance www.abcfordance.com

 

The Perfect Pointe Book by Lisa Howell

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morninglorie

As someone currently dealing with an injury because she did too much too soon, I highly recommend taking it slow and steady. Don't rush to be back on pointe, especially--really work on your foot/ankle/calf strength (I have the Dance Anatomy and Perfect Pointe books suggested by Pas de Quoi, and they are FABULOUS resources). Overall leg and core strength, too!

 

I think a lot of folks (myself included) think of pointe as a sort of status symbol in ballet, but as someone who hasn't been able to dance fully for 7+ months, I would now gladly trade in pointe shoes to be able to releve and pirouette in flats again.

 

Enjoy the process of coming back!

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lildropofsunshine

I just think pointe is really fun! Even the simpler stuff like piques and bourres are fun to me! Pirouettes en pointe are one thing I hate though...they're so hard! But I definitely won't rush to get back en pointe. The reason I stopped was because of an injury (not dance related at all, I was hit by a car) and at the time I was being told I may never dance at all again, so I put pointe out of my mind. I was actually able to dance again, and I'm very grateful for that, but I do miss dancing 3-4x a week and my Saturday technique class followed by pointe.

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I think a lot of folks (myself included) think of pointe as a sort of status symbol in ballet, but as someone who hasn't been able to dance fully for 7+ months, I would now gladly trade in pointe shoes to be able to releve and pirouette in flats again.

 

Enjoy the process of coming back!

 

Well, I'm on record here as wondering many times WHY pointe is such a "thing" for adult dancers. It hurts, it can kill your feet, and you can be injured. I see adult dancers on pointe who can't get over the box, can't straighten their legs, and can't hold their turn out, and I just wonder, Why?

 

Thanks for sharing your cautionary tale morninglorie, and commiserations on your long withdrawal from dance - that must be very very hard. Horrid in fact. I hope you have good physical therapist support for coming back. And you can come back stronger! Sometimes having to start again from the basics can be a wonderful opportunity. Good luck to you :clover::flowers: and I hope you enjoy getting back in to ballet!

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morninglorie

 

Well, I'm on record here as wondering many times WHY pointe is such a "thing" for adult dancers. It hurts, it can kill your feet, and you can be injured. I see adult dancers on pointe who can't get over the box, can't straighten their legs, and can't hold their turn out, and I just wonder, Why?

 

Haha, right? I think maybe because when you think of a "ballerina" you think of the tutu, and the pointe shoes and the bun. For me personally, because I did dance as a kid/teen and did do pointe before, I don't feel like I'm "back" until I get back on pointe. Alas...

 

 

Thanks for sharing your cautionary tale morninglorie, and commiserations on your long withdrawal from dance - that must be very very hard. Horrid in fact. I hope you have good physical therapist support for coming back. And you can come back stronger! Sometimes having to start again from the basics can be a wonderful opportunity. Good luck to you :clover::flowers: and I hope you enjoy getting back in to ballet!

 

Thanks, Redbookish! I actually think that in the end this will be very good for me--not only as a lesson to listen to myself/my body, but also to take things easy and not be in a rush. Plus, its giving me a great chance to work on my strength (my core is terrible LOL) and imbalances. I really think that I'll come back stronger, as long as whatever is going on in the ankle can be fixed.

 

(Edited because my cat decided to step on the keyboard and post before I was ready LOL)

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Well, I'm on record here as wondering many times WHY pointe is such a "thing" for adult dancers. It hurts, it can kill your feet, and you can be injured. I see adult dancers on pointe who can't get over the box, can't straighten their legs, and can't hold their turn out, and I just wonder, Why?

I remember thinking when I first found out that adult beginners can eventually go on pointe that I would love to get there someday. However, I found out last week that I have a neuroma in my left foot (which is a half size larger than my right), that developed after getting jazz shoes the dancewear shop lady insisted was supposed to fit that tight. I saw my x-ray and my metatarsals and joints are naturally so close together that it's really no wonder I am having problems. I decided that pointe is not worth it. I won't let the podiatrist scare me away from ballet altogether but I would rather not risk the foot problems that would come with going on pointe.

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I had the experience of being on pointe as a teen, and then in my 30s, my teacher suggested I work in pointe shoes. So I suppose I don't hanker after the "ballerina" thing - I come from a family in the performing & creative arts (my mother trained as a dancer) so I had no illusions about tutus and pointe shoes. Don't have that sort of body, anyway. I was (and am still) strong, but I do think there is SO much to master in technique on the flat, that I'm happy enough learning each day.

 

On the other hand, I may eat my words - my teacher is thinking about a more advanced repertoire class once a week - she's expanded the adult ballet programme to 3 classes a week, and this would be the fourth (it's a very new studio, only 2 years old). If this class starts, I may just get back into some pointe shoes. I'll let you all know & you can laugh! :whistling: Yesterday we started to do some simple pre-pointe training at the barre - just relevés and posés and echappés on demi-pointe. It felt great!

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lildropofsunshine

Thanks for sharing everyone :)

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I see adult dancers on pointe who can't get over the box, can't straighten their legs, and can't hold their turn out, and I just wonder, Why?

 

Getting over the box and turn out - ok. But what is it about straight legs? Why are straight legs important (health in mind)?

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Straight legs are pretty basic - pulling up your knees in releve, in a pirouette, in any balance, or extended pose, in the air in a saute ... and so on. I was always taught that if you can't get over the box of the pointe shoe with a pulled up knee, and turned out leg on your supporting leg, you are not working correctly

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