Are you ready to dance en pointe? This question comes up a lot and there are several things to consider. Not only do your feet and ankles need to be ready, but mentally, you need to be ready for the challenge of pointe.
When Can I Start Pointe?
“The bones of the foot are not fully developed until sometime in the late teens or early twenties. Of course, there is a great deal of individual variation. If a young dancer attempts pointework without proper strength and technique, the significant forces created by the combination of body weight and momentum can permanently damage those not-fully-developed bones. Yet if a dancer is truly ready and if the introduction to pointework is gradual and always carefully and knowledgeably supervised, if the pointe shoes are well chosen and properly fitted, there is minimal risk of injury even if the bones are not fully formed.” See: When to Start Pointe Work – Dancer.com.
Students must be approved by Kaleidoscope’s Artistic Director in order to go up on pointe. There are many factors we take into consideration, including age, training, strength, and physical maturity. Students must show an excellent work ethic, and have at least 5+ years in consistent ballet training and have a great attendance record. We typically say anywhere between the ages 11- 12 years old, a student is ready. Students must be taking a minimum of 3 hours of ballet per week to register for a pointe class. Students begin in our pre-pointe dance class.
Here are 5 things To Know Before Starting Pointe:
- Not every dancer goes on pointe: Some dancers are just not ready and may never be. Dancers can risk serious injury if they start pointe too early especially if they don’t have the ankle strength. It is not worth the risk of not being able to ever dance again. Everyone’s feet develop at a different time along with their bodies.
- Dancers must meet certain physical criteria: Dancers must be able to maintain turnout while dancing, show correct alignment and posture, no sickling of the foot, use their plie well, and can balance equally over all five toes all while demonstrating proper alignment.
- Pointe takes commitment: Pointe is incredibly difficult, very uncomfortable, and not for the faint of heart. Blisters are the worst and you will bleed through your pointe shoes at some point! It takes a really long time to strengthen your muscles, and stretch your tendons, and you will be sore and your feet will ache for a very long time. It will eventually get better and totally worth the hard work and sacrifice.
- Pointe shoes are expensive: Pointe shoes range from $75 to $115 dollars. A professional dancer on average will go through 100 to 120 pairs of pointe shoes a year, sometimes one pair only lasts one performance. When you are brand new to pointe, shoes typically last 3 to 5 months, depending how much you are dancing in them. At Kaleidoscope, we partner up with Allegro Dance Boutique, a local dance store in Evanston, for a private group shoe fitting. After all, getting your first pair of Pointe shoes is a right of passage in the dance world.
- Be patient: Pointe work is beautiful and rewarding. All dancers progress at different rates then others in Pointe class. Keep your chin up, push yourself, and don’t worry about the dancers around you. Progression in Pointe, just like dance, takes time.
If your young dancer dreams of being on Pointe one day, give us a call and mention this article to try a FREE class on us. Our professionally trained and college degreed instructors have many years of experience both dancing on pointe and teaching pointe to young dancers.