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Ballet Talk for Dancers

When are you strong enough to do center en pointe?


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My DD is 11.5 has been en pointe for only 2 weeks. All her teachers (3 different teachers including our ballet director) have agreed that she is strong enough and claimed that she was born with feet to be in pointe shoes. She is starting her summer intensive (not at our home school) next week for 6 weeks. We have 4 classes at our home school this week of which 2 will be privates before starting her intensives. Her teachers have made it clear that she is not to leave the barre while en pointe in her summer intensives. I'm in agreement with her teachers but I little worried that her summer teachers may rush her. I'm sure the summer teachers know what they are doing. As personal reference, when is a child strong enough to do center work en pointe? Are there certain signs that is obvious? Or is it just putting enough time? And how much time would that be?


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Time would differ greatly in terms of the dancers previous training, her physical facility, and her strength. Make sure that she lets her SI teachers know that she is totally new on pointe.

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I would not count on the summer program doing what is best for your daughter. Last summer my daughter attended a well-known program and most of the 10-year old girls wore pointe shoes. At parent observation day one of the teachers even announced that the summer program was the first time one of the girls was using pointe shoes. Some of the girls were fine but some were terrifying to watch. Maybe they will tell you more about the expectations for each class at orientation so you will know if it is possible for her to just wear pointe shoes at the barre. I know it's really hard for the girls no stay off pointe when they have been looking forward to it for so long.

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This is our first year doing a summer intensive (though lots of people have told me that Joffrey is very gentle with new and even not-so-new pointe students) and my 11 year old started pointe 2.5 months ago.


"Center work" can mean so many different things. To my surprise, DD's class (all 4 of them started the same day, which was planned on purpose, and delayed to make sure all 4 were ready together) did "center" on day one. The teacher wasn't going to, but felt they were ready. It consisted entirely of bourrées across half the floor, once in each direction. In the 10 or classes since then, they've done more things without barre but not much. Not full combinations, no turns on one foot of any kind, etc.


I wonder if your DD's teachers feel she should be at barre for two months or if they want to be the ones to move her off it. Completely legitimate (and why I breathed a sigh of relief when the "January" start-pointe date only got moved to April and not to just before my DD's intensive).

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DD12 was in center right from the day 1 but only on two feet for a while. It is my understanding that many places don't allow center work for a very long time, but at our studio, you only start when you are truly strong enough and it has never been an issue.

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Congrats on your DD's achievement!


I'm no expert, but I trust DD's school and DD was doing center pretty quick too. There is another group of kids that started pointe around the same time that didn't start center for a long time and spent very minimal time on pointe at first, maybe a 15 minute pointe. They were mostly older kids too, so to my observation is that it really depends on the kid. If you trust the teachers, it's probably totally fine. I was pretty amazed too with how quickly DD progressed, because I also thought they just do barre forever. She's been up for about 9 months and her class is starting pirouettes and partnering, and yet the other class is still mostly barre.


Her school is very conservative though, but just with unique groups moving on their own path and rate of progression. At our school you will very rarely see a 10 year old on pointe, only a few 11 year olds, most are 12 and over and have to be very solid when they start. No one does pointe roles until they've had 2 years of pointe. They have broken many hearts by not letting kids go on pointe even if their friends were, etc. So I trust them having DD do center, but yeah it surprised me too at first to see her doing that!


I could totally see DD's teacher telling her to stay on barre at her SI if she was only on pointe for two weeks. It sounds pretty reasonable. DD had a classmate go to an SI and do pointe and that didn't go so well on her return and she had to unlearn somethings she had picked up that the teacher didn't like.

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