Training for First Year Pointe Students
Going on pointe is an exciting step for any ballet dancer! It is a transition into ballet as it is performed by professional dancers and a launch into more intense and difficult training. Watching the older students dance en pointe can make it seem like you can put on a pair of pointe shoes and immediately do what you have been able to do on flat shoes! While these dancers are able to do the same steps en pointe as in flat shoes, it is due to many, many hours of training. A beginning pointe dancer may initially expect to jump right into difficult movements, but the goal of pointe class is to build the great amount of strength you need in your ankles and feet to be able to achieve these movements. Be patient with your pointe training, you will be able to do the amazing things en pointe like the older dancers if you take the time to strengthen your feet.
So what should I expect my first class?
During your first pointe class, you probably will not even work in your shoes. The first day of class, the teacher will ask you to bring your new shoes to class so that she can check to see that they fit well. You should NOT sew your pointe shoes until your teacher is able to look at them and give you the OK to sew them.
After the teacher has checked to make sure you have purchased a pair of shoes that is suitable for your foot, she will teach you the correct way to sew your pointe shoes with the proper placement of your ribbons and elastic. Your teacher will also teach you how to break in your shoes, so that you will be ready to wear them the next class, as well as how you can tape your feet to protect your toes from blisters. All of this will most likely take your entire first class!
The next time that you come to class you can expect to begin doing all of the steps at the barre, starting with simple movements like relevé and échappé. As you continue to get stronger at the barre and are able to successfully achieve these movements, your teacher will begin to add more difficult movements and will begin to take the movements away from the barre.
Will Dancing en Pointe Hurt?
This is a somewhat difficult question to answer. Some dancers do experience a significant amount of pain while dancing en pointe. However, this pain is usually due to ill fitting pointe shoes or weak muscles in your feet. If you are experiencing a lot of pain, talk with your pointe teacher to make sure that your shoe fits correctly and that the muscles in your feet and ankles are developing properly.
Dancing en pointe requires a lot of hard work, but the hard work is well worth the strength you will gain that will enable you to dance beautifully en pointe!
This post's author, Mrs. Lauren Ader-Cumpston, served as the Ballet Mistress for the Ballet 5:8 professional company from 2012-2017 and is the Founding Director of Ballet 5:8 School of the Arts's Conservatory Program.