Pointe Basics
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Advanced students dancing Waltz of the Flowers.
"Waltz of the Flowers"
Pointe work is an exciting and essential part of a ballet student's training. Our students begin preparing for pointe work during Level 4, when they add 30 minutes to their normal class time to take Pre-Pointe. During this time they work in flat shoes to learn pointe technique and combinations, and to develop the strength they will need to dance en pointe. Our Level V, VI, and VII students dance en pointe in both our Nutcracker and our Summer Showcase performances.

Going en Pointe

Each student responds to the demands of pointe preparation differently, and some will need longer than others to be ready for pointe work. Students preparing to go en pointe should make an appointment at our Wellness Clinic, so that our doctors can evaluate their progress and suggest strengthening exercises, if necessary. Students will be notified in writing when they are ready to go en pointe. Please do not buy pointe shoes before receiving this letter! We will provide information about fitting pointe shoes, and will schedule a semi-private lesson, compliments of the school, so that students can be introduced to pointe technique and learn the proper care of their feet and pointe shoes. Beginners on toe will spend approximately ten minutes per class en pointe at the barre, and will gradually build up their time as their strength develops. Please feel free to speak with our teachers about any concerns you may have about pointe work.

Criteria for Pointe Work

  1. The student must be 10 1/2 years or older.

  2. The student must have at least 2 years of training.

  3. The student must be taking a minimum of 3 classes a week consistently (for a total of 4.5 hours weekly).

  4. The student must have sufficient strength to do the following:

  5.           •   Be able to hold their turnout while dancing.

    The most basic concept of ballet is turnout. It makes it possible to do certain steps that could not otherwise be done. Holding turnout while dancing is a good sign of strength. If the student does not have the strength to maintain their turnout, they are not strong enough for pointe, since it is much more difficult to hold turnout en pointe.

              •   Have a strong, straight back while dancing, especially the lower back.

    Pointe work requires that the student use the muscles in her legs and feet to stand en pointe and not use the pointe shoes as a crutch. A weak back will throw the student off balance while en pointe and will make it difficult to do ballet steps. A straight back is also essential for pirouettes.

              •   Keep the heels forward toward the big toe (no sickling).

    The most stable position for pointe work is to have the weight slightly forward over the big toe. If the weight is over the little toe, it is more difficult to stay up en pointe, and will increase the chances of strain and injury.

              •   Use plié while dancing.

    Students must use their pliés while dancing because this is how they get up en pointe. If they don't use their pliés, they will have to bend their leg incorrectly in order to get en pointe. Pliés should be done with the knees pointing straight over their toes and with the heels down.

              •   Point their feet while dancing.

    Students must point their feet while dancing in order to strengthen the muscles that pointe-work requires. These muscles need to be strong enough to support their body weight on the ends of their toes. If the student is not in the habit of using these foot muscles then they will not be able to support themselves en pointe and will probably knuckle over on their toes, thereby increasing their chances for injury.

              •   Pique passé with straight leg.

    Student should have enough strength to push themselves onto half-pointe. This step is harder to do en pointe and a bent leg is usually a sign of weakness or improper step preparation.

              •   Be able to do 16 relevés in the center without stopping.

    Strength for pointe work is achieved by repeating exercises. Relevés are excellent for building up calf muscle strength, which is vital for pointe work. This exercise is more difficult to do en pointe because of the extra height, so strong relevés on half-pointe is a good sign of strength. The student must also go up as high on half-pointe as she can, since pointe work demands this ability. A student who keeps her heels very low to the ground is not preparing her calf muscles adequately, and will not have the strength for pointe work.

              •   Be able to hold a passé balance on half-pointe.

    The student should be well-placed (hips square, back straight, legs turned-out), and have the strength to balance on half-pointe. This pose is more difficult to correct en pointe, as the surface area for balancing is smaller and the strength requirements are greater.

  6. The student must be well-groomed, with her hair out of her face and in a bun. Ponytails are not acceptable! Short hair must be held back from the face with a wide band.

  7. The student must be responsible enough to bring all the ballet equipment she will need to class. Pointe shoes require extra care and accessories.

  8. The student must be in good health and able to take a whole class. If the student frequently needs to rest because of illness or injury, she is not strong enough for the extra demands that pointe work requires.

  9. The student must pay attention in class and must work well. Going en pointe is a big step and requires commitment on the part of the student.

  10. The student must be of normal weight.

  11. The student must have enough of an arched instep to stand on pointe.

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Pacific Ballet Academy   •   P.O. Box 765   •   Los Altos, CA   94023
Ballet Campus located at: 295B Polaris Avenue   •   Mountain View, CA
For more information, contact:  director@pacificballet.org
Or telephone Pacific Ballet Academy at:  (650) 969-4614

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