How do you know if your dancer is ready for pointe shoes? 

Dancers all over the world dream of the day when they get their first pair of pointe shoes! The image of gliding across the stage in beautiful satin shoes, complete with ribbons and a tutu, looms large for young ballerinas. But for parents of dancers in Port Orange dance classes, how do you know when it’s time for your dancer to begin pointe?

There are many assessments that can be done for dancers to determine pointe-readiness, but these are just a few that parents can begin with before approaching the teacher for more in-depth evaluations. Check these off your list before you head to the dancewear store!

You Know Your Dancer Is Ready For Pointe If….

1.  They Are At Least 11 Years Old

If your dancer is nearing the age of 11, you can start thinking safely about pointe shoes. By 11 years old, most dancers’ bones have begun to finish developing properly.

Starting pointe any earlier can harm a dancer’s growing bones – did you know that dancing en pointe can place up to 12 times your body weight through your foot?! If a young dancer weighs between 80 and 90 pounds, that’s nearly 1000 pounds!! Growing bones aren’t yet strong enough to withstand that kind of pressure, so it’s important to wait until at least age 11.

Of course, dancers in Port Orange can’t only rely on age to determine readiness for pointe. Not all 11-year-olds are ready for the challenge or the responsibility of dancing on pointe.

2.  They Are Committed Students Who Are Ready For a Challenge

All children develop physically and mentally at different rates. Some 11-year-olds are 11 going on 41, focused and serious about whatever activity they are participating in. Some relate more to their younger peers and have a shorter attention span in dance classes.

If your child has expressed interest in taking pointe class, pay attention to how they behave in dance class and other activities. Are they taking the initiative to practice at home? Do they eagerly anticipate ballet class?

When possible, ask to observe their Port Orange ballet classes. Watch for their attentiveness in class and how they take corrections. If your child is soaking up all of the information, asking relevant questions, and applying corrections in ballet class, they might just be ready for pointe.

3.  They Have Been Taking Quality Ballet Classes For At Least 3 Years

Legacy’s Port Orange dance classes offers quality ballet classes meant to prepare students who wish to do so, the opportunity to take pointe classes. A quality ballet class means it is at least 1 hour long and consists of a full ballet barre and center technique work.

Combo classes, or ballet classes that are less than an hour in length, do not prepare students for more advanced work on pointe. Additionally, since ballet is highly specialized, taking other styles of dance does not prepare students for pointe.

If your dancer wishes to begin pointe class by age 11, they will need to get serious about ballet by age 8! That means deciding between activities if they do other sports because in order to be as ready as possible, they will need to take ballet a few times a week.

4.  Their Teacher Has Recommended Pre-Pointe Classes

Oftentimes, when a dance teacher has a group of students nearing pointe-readiness, they will recommend a pre-pointe class. Pre-pointe classes include specific foot and ankle strengthening exercises and usually occur before or after ballet/pre pointe class.

Strength for pointe work is gained by repeating exercises and gaining muscle memory and dexterity of the feet and ankles. Pre-pointe classes aren’t necessarily the most fun – but they are the most necessary!

Pre-pointe classes don’t always require pre-pointe shoes. Many Port Orange dance studios prefer that dancers use regular soft ballet shoes or no shoes at all in pre-pointe classes. If you are interested in learning more about pre-pointe shoes, check out this article What Are Demi Pointe Shoes?

5.  They Can Successfully Execute Certain Steps in Demi-Pointe

Dancers who are ready for pointe work are already on the way to being technically proficient in many ballet steps. There are certain steps that will be an immediate sign of NOT being ready for pointe if they are not executed properly in demi-pointe.

These are steps that you as a parent can watch and determine for yourself if they are being done properly.

  1. 16 Relevés On One Foot – dancers should be able to rise up onto the balls of their feet while keeping all 5 toes on the ground. Thigh should be pulled up. As the dancer lowers their heel, their knee should be straight. Dancers should be able to do this without tiring and without holding on to the barre.
  2. Piqué Passé – dancers should be able to propel themselves onto a straight leg, on demi-pointe. This step is difficult to do en pointe, and if it can’t be done properly on demi-pointe, the dancer is not ready for pointe work.
  3. Balance Test – dancers should be able to perform a single-leg balance with eyes closed for at least 30 seconds.

As you can see, there are a lot of different criteria for a dancer to be considered ready for pointe work, from psychological to physical. If your dancer is expressing interest in starting pointe, consult their teacher as well as this guide, so you can all determine the best course forward. Happy dancing!

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