The Pre-Pointe Year

Pre-Pointe Year

Pre-pointe is one of my favorite classes to teach. In part because I enjoy the age of most of the students (11-13 year olds), but also because the excitement of what is about to come is bubbling everywhere. The students are motivated and the parents are thrilled for progress they can really “see”.

I also feel pre-pointe can be one of the more confusing classes to teach. I think all teachers recognize the importance of this training, but many don’t exactly know what to include. Aside from relevés and therabands, what do you do? That is what I would like to address here.

My pre-pointe students go through a 14-week course (30 min per week) which culminates in a written exam along with an assessment of their readiness for pointe. It is a program I have honed and refined over the years complete with diagrams and lesson plans. Below you can find a brief breakdown.

*Note—Each week builds on the one prior. I typically try to include material from the previous class and also repeat at least one barre exercise in the centre.

  • Weeks One & Two
    • Foot Bones
    • How to Use a Theraband/Point & Flex
    • Barre—Rises and Relevé in Parallel, 1st, and 2nd
  • Weeks Three & Four
    • Tarsal Joint
    • Theraband—Ankle Inversions
    • Barre- Rises and Relevé in coup de piéd /Ankle Breaks (plié while in demi pointe holding the ankle in place—not allowing the arch to force over)
  • Weeks Five & Six
    • Tibialis Posterior
    • Theraband—Tied around barre stand, tendu a la seconde
    • Barre—Relevé from two legs to one
    • Centre—Demi Pointe Marches
  • Weeks Seven & Eight
    • Knee Joint
    • Theraband—Tendu devant
    • Barre—Learning how to press over the arch (force arch) properly.
    • Centre—Ballet Walks
  • Weeks Nine & Ten
    • ASIS
    • Theraband—Tendu derriere
    • Barre—Piqué en avant
    • Centre—Pas Marché
  • Weeks Eleven & Twelve
    • Hip Socket
    • Theraband—Degagé
    • Barre—Same
    • Centre—Pas Marché en arriere
  • Weeks Thirteen & Fourteen
    • Learning How to Sew
    • Learning the Parts of the Pointe Shoe
    • Learning What Your Foot Needs in a Shoe
    • What to Expect at Your First Pointe Shoe Fitting
    • How to Prepare for Your First Pointe Shoe Fitting

On top of these items I also include some floor exercises to help students find their deep rotator muscles and I also have them do Pilates 100.

This course could easily be extended over an entire dance season and include topics such as healthy eating, history of pointe shoes, how pointe shoes are made, etc. You could also lengthen the class to allow more exercises.

A smartly planned out pre-pointe course is a wonderful investment because it takes the guesswork out of what you should teach them while maximizing the time you do have with them.  It sets everyone up for success!

DISCLAIMER: The program described in this article has been developed by Ms. Hartley over her years of experience teaching pre-pointe. It is not a curriculum resource provided by The Ballet Source outside of the scope of this article. For more information on The Ballet Source‘s Pre-Pointe material, see Pointe 1: An Introduction to Pointe.

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