Some ballerinas take ballet with the hopes of someday becoming involved in pointe ballet. During pointe ballet, dancers wear square-toed shoes and often spend time dancing on their toes rather than the bottoms of their feet. However, you cannot begin your journey into the world of ballet with pointe. You must prepare yourself first to prevent injury.
Most dancers who practice pointe ballet begin by taking regular ballet lessons with flat ballet shoes. Lessons can be started from a young age, such as four or five. The longer you take ballet lessons before beginning pointe ballet, the better suited you will be for it. The age at which you begin pointe ballet varies depending on skill level and maturity; however, most ballet schools will not start pointe ballet until at least 11 years old to allow for proper growth.
Being successful in pointe ballet involves increasing the strength in different areas of your foot, especially in your toes and ankles. Exercises can help you to increase the strength slowly and steadily, preparing you for pointe ballet. Prances are a good warm-up for pointe ballet. For this exercise, stand with straight posture and rise up on your toes at a 3/4 pointe. Flatten one foot and bend your legs into a demi-plie. Place some pressure on the leg with the 3/4 pointe to increase toe and ankle flexibility. Other exercises that flex and bend the joints are also helpful, including working on moving toes individually.
Consult with Your Instructor
Dance instructors are there to help you achieve your goals in dance. Some instructors may not be as helpful if they feel you do not have the proper attributes to be a successful pointe dancer. However, if you are willing to do the work, do not allow an instructor to stop you. Find one that is willing to work with you to help you through the process of switching to pointe ballet. Your instructor will help you with additional exercises and other steps you must take to move forward.
If you want to continue on in ballet to learn pointe ballet, you must be patient. It is important to wait until you are ready for the move, both from a developmental and skill perspective. Moving to pointe ballet too early can result in physical injuries, as well as problems with your development as a dancer. It is better to begin later than average than to start before you are ready. If your instructor honestly feels you are not yet ready, listen to what she has to say and allow her to help you progress to point where you are ready. It is also important to realize that some pain is often involved during the learning process. Do not give up simply because it hurts because the pain should go away with time.
- University Ballet of Chicago: Frequently Asked Questions
- The Ballet Store; Exercise for Pointe in Adult Ballet Classes -- Warm Up and Awareness; October 2009
- The Ballet Store; How to Prepare for Pointe Shoes and Prevent Dance Injuries; February 2009
- Ballet-FeetFirst.com: Frequently Asked Questions about Pointe Shoes and Ribbons
- Ballet Dancers Guide.com: Ballet Pointe Shoes
- Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images