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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Men's equivalent of pointe shoe work?


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I've been taking ballet classes for the last few years at a fairly large school with a wide offering of adult ballet classes spread over 9 levels.


I'm now at the 3rd level and at the end of the class girls are being introduced to working in pointe shoes.


Being generally the only man in most classes, Ii've been instructed to just do the same exercises as the girls and that they will strengthen my feet. Which is fine by me, but there are times when it feels a bit silly.


- Of course, in my situation, I need to just go with the flow, but I'm very curious, what do boys/men generally do at the time when girls begin pointe work? I has a sub mention once that men should work on jumps and it's stuck in my craw.


- In one of my classes, there is another man, I think about my age, early 50's, and he actually does use the shoes. I have to be honest, it seems very silly to me, not that it's my business, other than making me feel even more awkward in this portion of the class. I'm kind of a guys guy and though I love ballet, want to keep my practice to the masculine side of the art.

Edited by HorizonMan
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Typically, during preprofessional training, pointe would be taught in a separate class for the girls. The men would have "Men's" class, which would, indeed, focus on the athletic jumps and turns that women typically would not be expected to do. In adult professional classes, women choose to put on their pointe shoes (or not) at various times during the class and make the necessary modifications for pointe shoes on their own. Some teachers will give, in these classes, a separate combination for "ladies en pointe" when the rest of the class has "tendu in the centre"... Just as they may give a more athletic version of the grand allegro at the end of class for the men. In the situation that you are describing, I would do the exercises given to the ladies en pointe while wearing soft shoes, and keep the upper body as "masculine" or neutral as possible. In New York you will occasionally see men in pointe shoes...but it is very rare.

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Thanks for the reply. Just coming back from class, and did the exercises in slippers as usual, only this time away from the bar, and that was actually pretty good for my feet indeed.


One further question relating to this, one of the exercise they do on pointe, are bourees. My sense is this is a women on step in ballet, is this the case? Tonight I just did some nice stretching during that segment of the class.

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I do the pointe exercises with my adult classmates in flats. Great for building the strength as I'm sure you have already found out. Bourees seem a little odd until you partner someone and knowing what they are doing is a great help in my book :wink:

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Thanks I appreciate the sharing. Part of the issue for me, is that being the only man, I very rarely if ever get information on the differences between male and female ballet, though I instinctively feel that men are as the quote says "stately" which is one of the thing s that drew me to ballet, Vaganova in particular.


If the PM'er would care to elaborate on what a stately walk entails I'd appreciate it. One very positive thing at my school is there is a reasonable amount of freedom to do other things when appropriate.


Thanks again.

Edited by HorizonMan
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Please we have open board discussions, not relayed discussions. :wink:


If the original poster would like to open the discussion to the membership at large, rather than continue in the Men's Forum, we can move the entire discussion to Cross Talk.

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I really don't care one way or the other. I asked a men's ballet related question, so this seemed like the right place for it. If it needs to be moved to get answers then that's fine. It didn't' even occur to me that the reason the post had to be relayed is because it wasn't from a male.


edit: actually looking at Cross Talk it seems to be for totally different topics. Just leave it here and I'll sort answers out on my own. Not worth the trouble.

Edited by HorizonMan
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Bourree is a traveling/ethereal step for women that requires strong feet, legs, and core in order to be done properly.... I'd hope that the teacher would give you a step that travels in a graceful manner while the ladies practice this particular step. If the teacher does not give you something specifically you could do things like: slow glissades decote that really articulate the feet and pass through a nice 5th, you could do slow princely walks which present the heel forward with every step, you could practice slow chaine turns (or soutenu turns), you could even do tombe pas de bourree en avant.... Anything that is slow, travels, and works on articulation of the technical elements would be appropriate for a male during this moment of female technique.

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HorizonMan-I would describe a "stately walk" as fluid walk with elegance. Stepping onto a straight leg articulating the foot with each step. Moving the hips quickly over the leg you are stepping onto, Torso upright with chest open and head held high. Having that walk look "pedestrian" or natural onstage is much more difficult than one would think. I had an Artistic Director who use to say "When you finally learn how to walk onstage properly, it will be time to retire." Meaning it will take years to acquire the natural look of the "stately walk".

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Those are some great thoughts, I'll mention it to my teacher for her approval before hand, other wise she might wonder what's up with my Mic Jagger impersonation.

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I'm the only guy in my ballet class and I faced the same problem last year. Girls would do pointe work and I wouldn't know what to do. I bought pointes too and sometimes I would do their exercises - it's good to develop feet and leg's strenght -, others I would do some stretching or their exercises on demi-pointe. This year there's a class just for pointe work, so I just skip it.

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  • 11 months later...

I am usually the only guy in class also. There are times when the ladies request to do my adult ballet class in their pointe shoes. Which is fine. It is intriguing and interesting as the steps are danced more beautifuly. One of my ballet teachers when she has the ladies do bourees she usually has me do something else as she says bourees are not masculine enough and would not going to make me do them. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Pactice Chaînés turns.  End up a few steps ahead of your partner and be prepared to partner her.

Work on your tours as well.




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If I would be younger when starting ballet, I would use pointe shoes - but that's just me. Everyone should decide on his own.

There's a bit of James Whiteside in me, just google for him posing as Gelsey Kirkland on Halloween - he must have taken quite a lot of lessons in pointe to perform this stunt. And switching the next day back to prince.


I know here at the ballet academy every professional male dance has to take a bit of pointe, for strenght and balance.


Anyway, being the only man in class has these problems. I prefer modern class here for amateurs: at least there's a lot of partnering without the male / female thing there - partnering in ballet is 0 here because of the lack of men. Partnering in modern is more gender independend. Girls have to lift me, too, there - without things being strange. It's just a lift - they could do it in ballet, too, just to practice. At least the lesser demanding things where you don't need that much power. Not every lift is a over the head lift.



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