Going En Pointe
Student must be taking 3-5 classes per week for two years prior to being considered for pointe work. The student must be 11-12 years of age. Not all students are ready at age 12.
Student must exemplify strong understanding of foot work, the use of demi pointe, have a deep demi plie and a high relevé. The arch of the foot must extend forward on relevé for ankle and calf safety. The student must be able to keep get the top box of the show on the floor in tendu without bending the knee for lower back and knee safety. The hip flexors must be elongated for lower back and knee safety. The foot must be full, or nearly full grown and pointe work should be OK'ed by the dancers' pediatrician.
Pointe dancers must turn in a hand-written essay on common injuries associated with pointe. Once the student is advised that they are ready for pointe, they are required to take 8 weeks of pointe class as pre-pointe (without pointe shoes). During this time they will turn in their essay on common injuries. They will then consult with their teacher on the type of pointe shoe that is appropriate for their foot and the required accessories including toe pads, elastics, ribbons, etc. They will be advised how to sew the shoes at that time. Dancers must sew their own shoes and keep a sewing kit in their bag at all times. Dancers will begin with no more than ten minutes of pointe work per week for several months. Pointe shoes should be left at the studio for the first two months.
Items Needed for Pointe Work
- 3/4 inch wide elastic in pink,
- med-size sewing needles,
- thick pink thread (some dancers prefer uncoated dental floss),
- a small scissor that can be kept in their dance bag,
- large safety pins,
- waterproof medical tape and
- triangle make-up wedges if they're prone to bunions.
- 3/4 inch pink or nude elastic
- pointe shoe ribbons
- lamb's wool or foam wool toe pads
- rubber foot stretcher
We don't recommend the Bunheads branded pointe shoe accessories, specifically the needle/threads - better off just going to a drugstore. Plan to get pointe shoes through the studio until dancers are very confident in their size & make. At that time if they know their perfect shoe they can order them from discount dance supply to cut costs.
Beginner pointe dancers typically get 6mos- 1yr out of their shoes depending on the shape and strength of their foot and how frequently they dance. They'll only be doing about 10 minutes a week for the first couple months and building from there. We request all new pointe dancers leave their pointe shoes at the studio for the first few weeks because we know how tempting it is to keep 'trying them on'!
Pointe shoes last about 20-40 hours. Our active pointe students replace their shoes every 2-4 months but every dancer is different. Professionals go through a pair per show and new pointe dancers may have the same pair for a while. Wearing them on extremely soft or hard surfaces (like carpet or concrete), getting them wet (or sweaty without tights), and crushing them at the bottom of a dirty dance bag will 'kill' them sooner. Dancers can also Jet-glue their shoes to get more use when they start to soften. Dead pointe shoes can also be de-shanked and used as ballet slippers for class. Dead shoes can be used for pointe work to strengthen the feet for experienced, strong dancers.
The body needs to be really well conditioned for pointe, so periods of absenteeism from technique class will mean putting the pointe shoes away for a while. This is true even for professionals. We suggest that two months of regular technique classes should precede any pointe work for youngsters. For example, if they take a summer off and return to classes in Sept, they can plan to resume pointe in Nov.
It's ok to have blisters, bruised toes, bunions and calluses - we just work through it. It's not ok to have ankle, knee or back pain, sciatica, ongoing bruising, swelling anything, cracked or lost toe nails, ingrown toe nails, or infections. Though frequent, those aren't 'normal' pointe shoe side effects and shouldn't happen.
All dancers old enough for pointe are old enough to sew their own shoes. Sewing your own shoes ensures a perfect fit and means that you will be able to quickly resew them if they rip during class or a performance. It can take new pointe dancers hours to sew their shoes but experienced dancers can do it in no more than 20 minutes.
Other info on pointe can be found here: http://www.integralballet.com/extra-help.html