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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Will this happen to us?


Guest Rosalin

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Guest Rosalin

I don't think this a real pointe shoe question, but rather geared toward adults who started pointe at a later age.

 

I've noticed that in my pre-pointe class there are a few younger girls in their early teens (15 yr olds) who were allowed to do pointe work at the bar for 15 minutes at the very end. The first day they were beaming with excitement, but once it was over they were begging to take them off and put their soft shoes on. We didn't do anything difficult, only rolling through the foot to demi pointe slowly. I only saw them go up on their toes twice to display an example of how it was done correctly.

 

The next class the girls showed up and didn't bring their pointes. Gone was the excitement of ever wearing them again? I asked a few if they were going to put them on for more barre work, and they shook their heads no. They said it made their feet hurt. Is this a phase, that now once tried, and didn't like them... that they've changed their minds? I know our instructor will not put anyone in pointes unless she feels the student is ready and also expresses the desire to work for it and wants to do it.

 

I hope this doesn't happen to me when it is my time. Is this typical behavior for younger girls when they first go on pointe in class? And is it different for older adult students? I'd hate to think the younger girls are throwing away their pointes because they don't think it is fun anymore. Is there anything I can do or say to inspire them to work harder, or is it best to leave it alone to personal choice?

 

Rosalin

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Rosalin, I'd say that is a most unique experience! I have never, ever had any children not want to do pointe! Either these two were not fitted correctly in the right shoes, or they are just total wimps and really not at all serious about ballet. Perhaps the teacher made a mistake and put them up too soon. Who knows, but rest assured that is extremely unusual.

 

As to your doing anything to encourage them, I don't think so. If they are not ready or not serious enough to find out if the shoes are wrong, or to try again, then it's probably for the best that they don't dance on pointe, not even at the barre!

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Could it be, though, that they might not realize that the shoes might be to blame, or that some minor discomfort was normal and would pass? Rosalin says the instructor is good, so this seems unlikely, but possibly dropping a hint towards that direction might not do harm?

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I had that sort of experience when I started en pointe when I was 13. I believe now that I had been incorrectly fitted and my shoes hurt a little (I had been using soft pointes so it wasn't too bad) and I they made my feet look awful :( . I remember feeling very disappointed. However I learnt to pad them where it hurt, built up more strength slowly, broke those first shoes and bought different ones and my disappointment changed into delight - now all I want to do is get back up there - it's going to be a long haul but I'll do it!!

 

I have a pair of pointe shoes at home that I was given, they're my size but I was not 'fitted' with them and am nowhere near strong enough so I would never try to use them (I promise Ms Leigh!) - they are just treated as ornaments. However they do remind me that they are hard shoes and when I am strong enough it will take adjustments for me to wear pointe shoes again.

 

Rosalin - did the teacher check their shoes? You could maybe suggest that they ask her to if she hasn't already.

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Guest Rosalin

Yes, I was there when they brought the pointe shoes in for the first class. The teacher took a pencil and marked where the elastic and ribbons should be sewn. It took up 20 minutes of class and we all had to listen how to take a match to the ribbon ends and how to tie them correctly. The lecture was quite fascinating as it seemed a rite of passage, even for those of us still in soft shoe.

 

One girl was not fitted correctly, as her foot slid forward into the shoe back and forth and we all could see they were not just too big, but wide as well. Those had to be taken back. Another girl had hers fitted alright. And someone else had their drawstrings cut off with scissors because she tied them so tight it was digging into her heel. We had another 2 minute lecture on the evil of drawstrings and how they aren't needed. Maybe this is typical of the Vaganova taught schooling, not sure... but everyone was given individual attention.

 

I would have to say the girls didn't seem very serious about it. They wanted to try it, and maybe they just didnt' like it? One girl did tell me she used normal thin pads that slip over the toes and then she tucked lamb's wool inside of that too. Is that normal to use 2 kinds of pads, one tucked inside the other? I know the instructor wasn't there when they were stuffing them in before class. It certainly seemed like excess padding to me.

 

Rosalin

 

Added: Maybe these girls are lacking role models or older students to look up to? Our pre-pointe class is considered to be the highest ballet class the school offers. Our instructor is also a guest teacher that has been on staff for some time, but its been only until now that there were enough students to make it to this level. She is highly qualified and I've seen her resume myself. Many of her students have gone on professionally, two are now prima ballerina's, and one went into film. She also owns her own theatre, ballet studio, and offers private lessons as well. I have complete faith in her expertise to make sure everything is done safely, so I'm guessing it has to be the girls lack of seriousness.

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When I was in a class with 14-15 year olds some of them were the same. I think they just weren't prepared for taking ballet that seriously because our shoes were quite well checked over by the teacher. The school I went to at the time was not a very pro-orientated place, it didn't put many people into the Higher grade exams, so most people there were doing it recreationally and did 15 minutes of pointe at the end of grade 6, 7, or 8, and they were not compelled to do pointe if they didn't enjoy it. But everyone was dying to get them at first, so it did seem a bit strange that they wimped out as soon as they found out it wasn't as easy as it looks!

 

I guess the question is what is the point of pointe? You have to be serious to do it, so is there a place for youngsters who are strong enough but don't want to be pros or aren't being trained with dancing professionally in mind? (And adults, for that matter! Mind you, we are MUCH more disciplined, aren't we!;) )

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In my opinion, if you want to do pointe you really should be ready, in technique, strength and in mind. It is really tiring both for the body and mind, and not many youngsters realize that in non-pro schools. In their heads they see themselves as dancing like Darcey B or Tamara R as soon as they get into their pointe shoes. It is a disappointment I think when they realize that it takes a hell of a lot of work and dedication to actually really dance in them and they loose interest. iTs always like that though growing up. You absolutely have to have such and such and when you get it..well you're just not interested anymore, and you move onto the next thing.

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It could also be a confidence thing. I went onto pointe when i was thirteen, my shoe fitting went on forever and i had fifteen minutes at the end of each class. At the beginning i was so proud as my teacher thought i was strong enough to do it, but going up en pointe shocked me. I felt very weak in the ankles and my feet felt very tender, eventually i found that i was strong and it was just about learning how to hold yourself and learning little tricks of the trade. Using padding where you needed it most, rubbing my feet with surgical spirit to harden up my skin where it needed it most (back of heels, big and little toe).

Pointe work is my favourite thing when it comes to ballet, i look forward to it in class and would love it if my school had enough days in the week for a couple of classes dedicated to pointe. Don't let these girls put you off, ease yourself into it gently and you will fall in love with it just like me:D

 

Skippy x

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Guest beckster

I couldn't wait to get pointe shoes, and I was so excited when I did (last year). And I really liked pointework as well, even though I never did much more than echappes and releves. I've stopped doing pointe now as I only do one or two ballet classes a week, and they don't regularly include pointe anyway. I'd love to get back to it but now I know from experience that it's not something to be taken lightly. It's amazing how much my strength and flexibility has dropped since I had to cut down the number of classes I do, and one of my goals for next year is to get the strength back again, and THEN maybe I'll get the pointe shoes out again. We're adults anyway - if a teen wants to go pro, they really have a race against time to get good enough by the time they are 18 or so. We, on the other hand, don't have that race. Going on pointe when you are 22 or when you are 30 makes no difference as long as you've got the strength and the skill, so there's no need to rush at it.

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Let's keep our feet on the ground, however - It's true that adults don't have the career push timetable to press them, but the other side of the timetable sometimes gives you some bad news, if pointe is your goal. Some adult students, not all, or even most, but some, find that joints that would have been flexible enough to work toward pointe have fused by age 25, and working that way has become impossible. Time and the body are both fickle friends, especially when they're together!

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Guest Rosalin

Just an update:

 

The few girls in my class who tried pointe have decided to stay in soft shoe. Yes, it was too much work for them and they weren't serious about the discipline for it.

 

After speaking to two of the dance instructors privately about my concerns, the actual instructor for the pre-pointe class just told me that pointe isn't for everyone. Sometimes students drop it and pick it up again in another year after they mature more. It has a lot to do with the attitude of the young girls in class and how they conduct their behavior and listening to instruction. And don't forget determination!

 

On a more positive note, I'll be starting pointe in June. The 2nd instructor I spoke with says she'll be taking the class with me and the two of us will be doing it together. Although she's already had training for pointe work in NYC, at least I'll have someone to compare notes with. We think that if the younger girls see us following the instruction seriously, the other girls who haven't been allowed on pointe yet will work harder.

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wow -- what an interesting story. I never dreamed that someone would actually turn down the opportunity for pointe.

I was fitted incorrectly about 5 years ago as an adult dancer, and they definitely hurt a lot! (the shoes were too short, too narrow and too hard for my foot!) I didn't know it at the time, but since I've read up on the different types of shoes and did a lot of research, I know better.

 

Eventually I rearranged my schedule and found a new place to dance. Now I'm back to 3 classes a week and after 1 year of solid technique classes, I finally got myself a better shoe (since the old ones died). I can't believe how comfortable the shoes are when they are the right size. (Grishko Ulanova 1) They hardly hurt at all (if that is possible). The first few classes that I had them on, I didn't want to take them off! Pointe is SOOO addicting! I love it even when I feel like a klutz...

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