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Ballet Talk for Dancers

En Pointe Question


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Ok, This is my first post, Hopefully it goes well :) My husband and I do not come from the dance world, so this is all very new to us. Our daughters the one interested in ballet, and we are just trying to take her lead and learn as much as we can. Hopefully you all can give us a little help and guidance on our way


I have an 11 1/2 year old daughter who has been dancing ballet since she was 6. (so 5 1/2 years)


The first three years she danced with a small hometown studio, just for fun, she did ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical and hip hop two days a week.


She expressed the desire to focus more on ballet and wanted to be at a more serious studio. We found a larger professional ballet company that also has a school and she has been there for the past two years, we are entering into year three. This school is well known in the area, and has a great reputation, she loves her instructors, and was accepted last year into their Junior Company program and is currently in there 5 week summer intensive program. We are very happy with both the company and the school and feel that they are a good fit for our family, but as I am reading other posts I'm finding some differences and am wondering if I should be concerned.


Her pre -professional ballet classes this year will be 4 days a week. 1.5 hours a day with an additional contemporary class that is 1.5 hours. In addition to this the school has a Junior Company which performs 1-2 of their own productions, as well as the Nutcracker with the professional company and the opportunity to perform at least one other production with the professional company. So during the season on top of her normal classes she would also have additional rehearsals and performance schedule. She's a good dancer, not exceptional, and not awful, but she works hard, has passion and dedication and


Hopefully that is enough background, so here is my question.


This particular company does not put dancers en point until at least the age of 13/14. There are rare exceptions but they are few and far between. The reasoning behind this to my understanding is that the main focus is on the feet, point readiness, safety and technique. However when reading other posts I find that a number of girls are en pointe around the age of 12. Our daughter is seeing other girls her age en point at other studios and is very concerned that she is behind. She's feeling anxious that she will have to wait another year possibly two before she can get her point shoes. And she is worried that not being on point will effect her chances at other summer intensives next year. Should I be concerned? Is the age of 13/14 too late for pointe? Will it hurt her chances at summer intensives next year? Any thoughts and opinions would be helpful.






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Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, balletmomofone. :)


I understand your DD's concern for not being on pointe in terms of SI programs for next year, as she will be 12 at the time of the auditions. However, I actually applaud the school's policy of waiting until they are really ready. I wish more schools would take that approach, as I have found that the vast majority seem to place their children on pointe way before they are physically and technically ready. In my experience those who wait will actually progress faster and be stronger on pointe, generally by-passing those who have been trying to work without the proper strength, preparation, technical knowledge and ability. It should not be based on age, but on level of technique and physical facility.


Your DD has only been at this school for two years, and my guess would be that it was like starting over for her. It might take until she is 13 for her to be ready, but when she has had the consistent quality and quantity of training, she will be better and stronger on pointe than those who started too soon.


Unfortunately, most schools are not willing (or financially able) to lose students by sticking to stricter standards of readiness and not putting the children on pointe too early. I see this everywhere, and way too often see 11 and 12 year olds who are put on pointe before they have the control, strength, facility, and technique. It is very hard to watch. If more teachers would be able to afford to say no, in my opinion the child is the one who would benefit.

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Thank you for your wonderful words of wisdom. This was very helpful.

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  • 3 weeks later...

My DD has had the same concerns, she will be 11 in a couple of weeks. Our instructor has always waited to put kids en pointe until 12, sometimes older and much less often younger. She evaluates each child as an individual, which I HIGHLY respect.

I will be honest with you and say that my DD's placement at her SI this year was directly affected by the fact that she is not yet en pointe yet. My DD and 1 other student from her school are the ONLY 2 at the SI that are NOT en pointe. At no "point" during the auction or conversations back and forth was it ever mentioned that pointe was a requirement. There are only 3-4 other 10 y/o's, all of which are en pointe. As a result, my DD and her friend (11) were placed in the lowest level with kids that are younger than them...all of which are also en pointe. (there is at least one 8 y/o and several 9 year olds en pointe) Several of the teachers have commented about the younger ones being TOO young to be en pointe. (this is not their home studio, they are a small group that came in) They have also commented that my DD's technique, knowledge and ability clearly exceeds the kids in her level, but they have resisted placing her in a higher level on demi-pointe (which is what she does at her home studio) Furthermore, some of her peers have sneered b/c she isn't en pointe yet. My DD knows that it's safest that she wait. She has also had the privilege of witnessing many older girls start later and then excel and go off to well known trainee programs.

Her SI is with a well known, highly regarded and large regional ballet company. That having been said, while she has been placed in a lower level she has had an opportunity to really refine technique. We have had a few conversations about Margot Fonteyn, who was known for taking lower level classes weekly. She has received many verbal accolades from the teachers. She has received very positive attention from the studio & I have had several instructors stop me to comment on her technique, ability & beauty. She has stood out and not blended in. There have definitely been cons to her not being en pointe for her first away SI, but there have been pros as well. I have encouraged her to not be jaded and we may be returning next year.

Edited by Melody
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Last summer my daughter was 10 and one of the only girls not en pointe at her SI. This year, at 11, she and the other girls from her studio were about the only ones not en pointe. It's so tough to keep explaining to them that slow and steady is best when so many programs allow girls en pointe early.

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At the same time I don't think it's fair to assume those that all or even most who are on pointe at 10,11 or 12 are too early or incorrect. Our school puts them on usually at 12,13 or never! It's hard when the kids cannot at all, but that is reality too. But there are a few who went up at 11, and a very very few who did at 10. I don't think anyone believes any of these kids was put up too soon or too late. From what I am learning it's a very individual process to be physically ready for point.


I am sure some schools play it very conservative, though and that could be frustrating for the girl dreaming of pointe shoes! My DD was in a week long "intensive" at a Dolly Dinkle a couple years ago and many of the kids were on pointe. To even my very untrained eye, they should not have been. DD had some envy and verbalized the silly desire to go there year round so could get the pointe shoes. Of course, she knew it wasn't worth it and did not go there. She ended up going on pointe the next year at her regular school anyways.

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