Our Approach to Pointe Work
Going “en pointe” is an exciting step in a dancer’s career. There are many factors that go into a dancer’s readiness for pointe work. Anatomically the bones of the feet are not ready to withstand the stress of point work before the age of 11. The x-rays below illustrate the changes in the bone structure of the feet from age 4 to 19.
Age and Development
Proper placement en pointe is having the weight centered just behind the big toenail. Stretching the ankle and strengthening the muscles of the feet to support this position is part of our Pre-Pointe curriculum.
In addition to these anatomic and development requirements, dancers involved in our Pointe Program (Pre-Pointe, Beginning Pointe, Pointe 1, Pointe 2, Partnering) must enroll in two days of ballet technique in order to maintain the strength required for the rigors of pointe technique.
Pointe Shoe Fitting
“Expensive you say, well I will make sure to buy them just a little bit big as my daughter is growing like a weed these days!”
Unfortunately the shoe cannot function to support a dancer if it does not fit snugly. A snug fit is of such importance that a student should wear ballet tights to a pointe shoe fitting and bring any padding they intend to use—even the thickness of the tights can affect the fit. To demonstrate, first press your fingers straight against your palm without letting them bend; next ask someone to snugly hold your fingers together while you repeat the press. Your fingers are your toes and the person holding your hand is the box of the pointe shoe; without a snug fit all your weight will rest on your toes!
The ELASTICS pull the shoe snugly against the arch of your foot, as well as help to keep the shoe from slipping off your heal. And lastly, the RIBBONS provide support to your ankle in much the same way as an “ace bandage.” As the RIBBONS and ELASTICS significantly impacts the way the shoe will function for a dancer, we expect the student to be responsible for sewing on their own RIBBONS and ELASTICS. Again, this should not be done before your shoes have been approved, and your instructors will guide first time and beginning students, and may need to be redone a few times.
Ankle A. Howell, Lisa A. The Perfect Pointe Book. 2010. Ankle B. Lai, J.C.; Kruse, D.W. Assessing Readiness for En Pointe in Young Ballet Dancers. Pediatric Annals. 2016;45(1):e21-e25
Barringer, Janice, Schlesinger. The Pointe Book. Princeton: Princeton Book Company, 1991.
Howell, Lisa A. The Perfect Pointe Book. 2010
Sparger, Celia. Anatomy and Ballet: A Handbook for Teachers of Ballet. 5th ed. New York: Theatre Arts Books, 1972.
Velardi, TA. “How should pointe shoes fit?”. Balletclassroom. balletclassroom.wordpress.com/ballet-gear/how-should-pointe-shoes-fit/. 2014