Many ballet dancers dream of one day dancing “en pointe” or on point. Dancing on point is a major goal for a ballerina, but beginning pointe classes is not a decision to be taken lightly. There are many factors that play into a ballerina’s ability to succeed at pointe, and there are many things to consider when deciding whether or not you are ready for pointe shoes. Here are five things to consider before beginning pointe ballet.
1. Is your body ready to begin dancing on pointe?
The age at which a dancer may begin pointe classes has been widely debated in the dance community. Because the bones in the foot are still developing until age 10 or 11, it is suggested that dancers wait until their early teens to begin pointe classes. Of course, every dancer is different, and some may be ready to begin pointe sooner than others. This decision must be discussed between the dancer, parents, and instructors. Never try dancing on pointe shoes until your instructor tells you it is okay to do so. Dancing on pointe before your body is ready can result in permanent injury to your feet.
2. Pointe is physically demanding.
Dancing on pointe can be uncomfortable at first. Your feet and legs will be very sore for a few weeks until you develop calluses and train your muscles. You will probably get blisters and you may even bleed through a pair of pointe shoes. That’s okay. It will get better as your body gets stronger. Give yourself a few weeks of grace as your body adjusts to the physical demands of dancing on pointe.
3. Pointe is expensive.
Pointe shoes can be incredibly expensive, ranging from $40-$100 per pair. Pointe students should also be re-fitted in the store for the first few pairs of shoes or until their feet stop growing. Brand new point shoes usually last for 12-20 hours of dancing, but once a dancer gets stronger, they only last 6-10 hours. Padding ranges from $10 to $30 and lasts for about six months. Dancing on pointe is a serious financial commitment, and dancers and their families should consider this before beginning classes.
4. Pointe takes commitment.
Before even beginning pointe classes, a dancer must have several years of ballet experience to prepare for dancing on pointe. A dancer needs time to develop the form, strength and alignment needed to be successful on pointe. Developing these skills allows the dancer to transition to pointe while preventing injuries.
5. Pointe requires patience.
Because of the amount of work and commitment needed to be a successful pointe dancer, ballerinas wishing to dance on pointe must be patient. They must also be willing to make mistakes and move forward. Dancing on pointe is beautiful and highly rewarding, but you must be willing to put in the work and remain committed even when it is hard.
If you or your child is thinking about beginning pointe classes, feel free to speak with an instructor at your next class or give us a call at (615) 378-7152.