All About Pointe Shoes

There is almost nothing more exciting in a young dancer's life than her first pair of point shoes. Dancing "en pointe" or on the tips of one's toes, is the very essence of the ballet aesthetic. So it is quite natural for dancers to anticipate wearing the shoes that make this possible for quite some time.

However, there are many factors that influence the "correct" time for going on pointe, and for some, this means a longer wait. Waiting under the direction of a teacher is best for the dancer in the long run. If dancers are put into pointe shoes too soon, they often develop bad habits to compensate for lack of strength. These habits can be hard to break, delay progression, and even damage the effortless and floating aesthetic that is associated with dancing on pointe. Worse than this, injury can occur and permanent damage can be done to the structure of the foot. 

The teachers at Cache Valley Civic Ballet work closely with each student to determine the appropriate time for transitioning into pointe shoes. This time is not determined solely by age, or even years studying ballet. Dancers should be nearing their 11th birthday to protect growth plates in the foot, be taking a minimum of two ballet classes a week to develop the strength and coordination necessary for pointe work, and demonstrate proper alignment and strength in their work in demi-pointe (dancing on the ball of their foot), as well as in their ankles, knees, and hips. 

So is there anything a dancer can do to rush readiness along? Teachers teaching levels preparing for pointe work will often give class time to developing strength in the muscles used standing on one's toes. Many of these exercises can be done at home once the dancer understands how to perform them properly. There are also foot specific workouts to finely target increasing strength and flexibility in the structure of the foot and ankle. And teachers love when students ask for and do this extra "homework."

Cache Valley Civic Ballet always welcomes it's dancers and their parents to have open discussions with our teachers concerning the readiness of each individual dancer. If you have a question, please ask! We recognize the trust you have placed in us for good training and we are committed to bringing out the best in each dancer!