We’ve discussed weight placement on pointe, conditioning principles to improve pointe, whether or not my student is ready for pointe, how to fit their first pair of pointe shoes, and preparing little feet for pointe. Clearly, these are all big decisions for a teacher to make for their students. There are so many deciding factors, and sometimes the answer for the anxious student is, “You’re just not ready yet.”
As it should be, the final decision as to what the student is ready for, and can safely attempt, is in the hands of the teacher. Good judgment and accurate assessments of student readiness come with study and experience. Learn all you can, even from teachers you do not feel are “up to standard.” Evaluate in your own mind (or in a notebook ) the value or danger of each item you see being taught in a pointe class, or recommended in a book or handout. You are the final judge as to what your students will do in class.
Your first concern should be for the ultimately correct and strong development of pointe placement, and movement on and off pointe. This implies the absence of injury, discomfort, or permanent distortion of the natural development in growing students. Any student below college level must be considered still “growing”, as final bone ossification and shaping of joints is not fully completed until about age 25.
It is hoped that you will be able to educate your parents and students to not be too anxious for pointe shoes. The absence of pain in young students does NOT mean there is no damage being done.
But, what if my pointe student is not ready for pointe?
If you find it necessary to teach pointe to a student not really ready for it, such as a transfer student who already has pointe shoes, then try to limit the pointe work to basic pre-pointe exercises for the first few weeks, and instruct the student to not do any practicing between lessons.
Ask her to go through the twelve week conditioning process with you. Tell her it will improve her pointe work. Students “too young” for pointe shoes should certainly not be allowed to do more than a very few relevés at the barre each week.
If they seem cooperative, explain to the parents the whys of waiting until age 12 for pointe shoes (See “Is My Student Ready for Pointe?”). Hopefully they will see and share your concern. Whenever you do decide to allow the student to participate, give the parents a special letter addressing their first pointe shoes and what will be expected of them in the first stage of pointe training. (Download a Sample of This Letter.)
Pointe Depends Upon Ballet
Keep reminding your students that improvement in their ballet will improve their pointe work. Good pointe work cannot happen without good constant progress in their regular ballet classes. Until they reach the pre-professional level, extra practicing on pointe will not improve it. Hard work in the regular ballet class is what will improve the pointe work throughout the beginning and intermediate pointe levels.
Best of luck and good wishes to you in your teaching! Ballet is such a rewarding art to share with others, whether through teaching or performing.
Articles Referenced in This Blog:
- Weight Placement en Pointe
- Conditioning Principles to Improve Pointe Work
- Is My Student Ready for Pointe?
- Preparing Little Feet for Pointe
- Their First Pair of Pointe Shoes
- The Twelve Week Rule