Learning to dance “en pointe” is a major highlight in a ballet dancer’s life, but beginning too early can result in frustration and injury. Every dancer has different musculoskeletal maturity, talent, and future dance related goals. Dancers, parents, and ballet instructors should pay special attention to each dancer when deciding whether or not to initiate pointe work.
Considerations for Beginning Pointe
- Frequency of classes the dancer takes per week
- Number of years the dancer has been dancing
- Age of the dancer: approximately 9-15 years (musculoskeletal maturity and motor skill ability varies from dancer to dancer)
- Core and lower extremity strength
- Balance/stability on two legs and on one leg while on flat and while on releve
- Adequate flexibility/range of motion of the ankle and foot: the top of the forefoot should be in line with the top of the shin when the foot is pointed.
- When a dancer has hyperextension of the knees, more range of motion in the foot and ankle is needed to assure adequate alignment on pointe.
- Ability to maintain adequate alignment of the hips, knees, and ankles while dancing.
- Avoiding “rolling-in,” or over-pronation, of the feet with plies and changing position; avoiding letting the knees fall inward, or having poor valgus control, especially when landing jumps; and avoiding “sickling” the foot when pointing foot or when performing releves.
- Coordination and ability to perform different steps in different arrangements of combinations with adequate technique.
If a dancer is believed to be lacking in any of the above considerations and still is hopeful to eventually begin pointe work, Elite has a pointe-readiness program individualized to each dancer’s specific needs in order to safely begin pointe with reduced risk of injury.