Pointe? Where to begin

The beauty of pointe shoes has captured little girls and womens hearts for as long as they’ve been around. The allure of owning a pair of pointe shoes can be very tempting, however if you are genuinely considering starting pointe there are a few things to consider first.

Q. Do you attend class regularly?

I’m not saying that you need to be attending a class every day. This is usually not realistic as an adult dancer. However once or twice a week consistently is ideal, not including your pointe class.

The key to this advice is ‘consistently’. The adults that tend to excel in my beginner pointe classes attend two classes a week and rarely miss a class. They also never skip their half hour pointe class unless something important has come up.

If you’re unable to attend regular class due to your studios timetable and still dream of wearing pointe shoes someday, you can always ask your teacher about regular or semi-regular private lessons.

Remember that the ability to dance on pointe requires commitment! If your not developing the correct muscles and continua sly working on your alignment in regular classes, you will be unsafe in pointe shoes.

Q. Have you spoken to your teacher?

Granted you have a well trained ballet teacher experienced in pointe work, the best thing to do is talk to them! Ask your teacher if they think you’re ready for the challenge.

Most teachers can provide a decent analysis on the shape and strength of your feet. They will also know – from watching you in class – if your alignment is good enough for attempting pointe.

The most important thing to do when asking your teacher if you’re ready for pointe is to listen and trust them. If they say you’re not quite ready for pointe work, ask them what exercises you can do to strengthen your feet or improve your alignment. Then set yourself a goal and know that your teacher will be now keeping an eye on you to help you achieve your goal!

Q. Do you have an expert pointe shoe fitter near you?

Do your research. DON’T just head on down to the closest dance wear shop. You need to be fitted by a pointe shoe specialist as every pointe shoe is different and there are a million styles to choose from.

For example, I would never recommend a beginner start with a Bloch Eurostretch as they are split sole with rather new technology created for the more experienced dancer. A beginner should start with a Bloch Sonata (provides extra support underneath the metatarsals) or a Bloch Serenade (designed to help control the foot laterally with a snug fit).

Some extra advice…

Dancing on pointe requires consistent practice and patience. Don’t expect to be doing pirouettes on pointe any time soon! In fact you’ll be lucky to leave the barre in your first six months of wearing pointe shoes, unless your technique is very strong.

It’s important to remember that the process of learning to dance on pointe is a personally one and everyone in your class will most likely be at various stages of ability. It’s not a race! If you need to do the first few pointe classes in your ballet flats, do it. In fact I would recommend you do exactly that.

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