Pointe class is by invitation only. Once Ms Yulia feels technique is mastered and a dancer's ankles and feet are strong enough to begin the next training in classical ballet, she will invite them to pointe.
If attending this class a ballet technique class must also be attended.
For a young dancer, buying her first pair of pointe shoes is a momentous occasion. As their training progresses, dancers eagerly, even impatiently, await this moment. They know that beginning pointe work is a milestone, a sign of artistic maturation. And nothing can match the thrill of putting on that first pair of beautiful, pink satin shoes!
In the midst of the excitement, it's important to remember that starting pointe is not a step to be taken lightly. To dance safely on pointe, a dancer needs careful technical preparation, adequate strength and development, and a pair of pointe shoes that have been professionally fitted to match her unique foot shape and individual technique.
What is the best age to go on pointe?
There is no single correct age to start dancing on pointe. You have seen how your child's physical growth follows its own unique pattern. Pointe readiness is also very individual, and is determined by both physical development and technical growth. Age 11 or 12 is often recommended as a minimum, and dancers with several years of serious training tend to be ready at age 12. Nonetheless, there is no age-based universal rule. It is much better to wait than to start without adequate readiness, and each child should be evaluated individually.
What are the signs of pointe readiness?
Before beginning pointe:
Dancer has had several years of serious ballet training, preferably including targeted pre-pointe instruction.
She has adequate core, leg and foot strength to pull up consistently on demi-pointe.
She has adequate development of the bone structure to minimize potential for damage to the feet.
As a pointe beginner:
Her back and knees are straight when she stands on pointe
Her abdominal muscles are pulled in, without straining, and her shoulders are relaxed.
Holding the barre, she is able to balance on the center of the platform, without falling backward or rolling forward.
What should we discuss with the teacher?
Before your child begins, you should be confident she is ready and receiving appropriate instruction, which should include pre-pointe training and guidance and a careful progression through the first pointe year.
What should we expect at the first fitting?
Allow up to an hour for the first pointe fitting and purchase. Many stores offer appointments, especially for the first fitting, to provide the necessary time and attention. The fitter will probably start by looking at your daughter's bare feet in order to choose a pointe model to match her foot shape. Your daughter may be asked to plie and rise to demi-pointe to demonstrate her technique and the strength and development of her feet.
The fitter will choose a model and size to try. In some cases, this "first try" shoe will fit the dancer. More frequently, it is just a starting point. In each pair of shoes she tries, your daughter will be asked to place her feet in various positions, on pointe and on flat, to show how the shoes fit and work with her feet. She will also be asked questions about how the shoes feel, and her answers are very important. It takes patience to find just the right pair, but it is worth it the effort because of the dangers and discomforts associated with an imperfect fit.
How should my daughter prepare for pointe fitting?
She should prepare her feet as she would for dance class or performance, and she should wear comfortable street clothes. Remember that the fitter will need to see your daughter's bare feet. Avoid fitting right after a dance class or other exercise, when the feet may be swollen.
Foot Care: File nails regularly so that they do not protrude beyond the flesh of the toes, but never low enough to cause inflammation. Keep the feet clean and dry, to inhibit growth of bacteria and fungus and to encourage healing of any abrasions.
Clothing: make sure it is comfortable but not baggy, so that the fitter can see the dancer's placement throughout her body.
Long pants: Pants can be rolled up, to show the feet and ankles.
Stockings: Make sure they are lightweight, such as dance tights or those provided by the fitter. If tights are worn, they must be convertible, to give access to bare feet.
Stretch the feet and ankles gently: Stretch before the fitting, to avoid strain and cramping on pointe.
What else does my daughter need?
Most dancers use padding for comfort inside the box. Lighter padding usually leads to better control and fit. Beginners should only use padding designed for pointe shoes, special toe pads or lamb's wool padding. Avoid experimenting with other materials. Many dancers also tape their toes to reduce rubbing; ask the teacher's advice about what kind of tape to use, whether it is needed, and how to apply it. Extras such as toe spacers or heel pads should only be added if the fitter or teacher considers them necessary.
How long do pointe shoes last? Is it possible to make them last longer?
You can usually expect about 12-15 hours of wear from a pair of pointe shoes. To get the most out of that lifespan, follow some basic care principles. Since they are made of natural materials, most pointe shoes break down when wet. Encourage your daughter to use a mesh bag outside of her dance bag to carry her shoes after class. She should also remove toe pads immediately after use and store them separately from her shoes. Shoes must never be squashed, and they should be set out to air-dry thoroughly between classes, ideally for at least 24 hours. When dancers wear pointe shoes daily, they often alternate pairs so that each pair has time to dry completely before being worn again.
Should my daughter wear her pointe shoes at home?
When they are just beginners, dancers should not go on pointe except under the teacher's supervision. They are just starting to build the strength and skills necessary for safe pointe work. They also need a specialized dance floor that provides a smooth surface with the right amount of traction. Of course your daughter will be excited to show off her new shoes to friends and family, but unless her teacher instructs her to practice at home, discourage her from using the shoes outside of class during the first year on pointe.
Why are there so many different pointe shoes?
Feet come in many shapes so pointe shoes are made in many different shapes too! The first step in pointe fitting is choosing the best model for the individual dancer. Many models come with pre-arched construction, a special design throughout the shoe that helps support high and low arches, reduces break-in time and accentuates the look of the dancer's arch.
Which pointe shoes are best for beginners?
There is no special model for beginners. Model choice should be based on the shape of the foot and the dancer's overall technical needs. There is no shank strength that is best for all beginners. Many instructors favor lighter shanks to encourage beginners to develop strength in their feet and experience ease of rolling through demi-pointe to pointe, but some beginners need stronger shanks. Choices of pointe model and specifications must always be based on the dancer's individual needs.
Are pain and damage to the feet inevitable with pointe work?
Dancers have to get used to some discomfort from the snugness of pointe shoes and the pressure of carrying the body's weight on the toes. They should not however have to suffer significant pain or have their feet deformed. Excellent fitting is essential for keeping the feet healthy. Properly fitting shoes keep feet supported to avoid sinking or knuckling (crumpling at the toe joints) into the toe box, and should minimize abrasion and blistering (from the shoe rubbing against the foot). Don't over-pad the toes because thick pads can interfere with the fit and the dancer's control. Dancers should keep their shoes dry and avoid squashing, and they must replace worn-out shoes promptly. In old or misshapen shoes, dancers are more likely to sink, knuckle, sickle (roll towards the little toes) or wing (roll toward the big toe).
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