Updated: Sep 9
We know it's every young dancer’s dream is to have the ‘magical shoes’ that will allow you to dance en pointe. The hard truth is though, that there is nothing magical about pointe shoes. You are putting the entire weight of your body on your toes and if the correct preparation is not made you will do serious damage to your feet in the long term.
From grade 4 students may join the preparation for pointe class. We work on the strengthening exercises that will ensure a safe transition to pointe. The students are made aware of my expectations of what they need to achieve and how to do this.
No two students are alike, students are assessed for pointe work individually and they may not go on pointe at the same time as someone of the same age or grade. Over the 40 years, I have been teaching there have been a few incidents when a parent has threatened to remove their child from the school if I do not allow them to go on pointe, I hope to be able to explain why it is not quite the right time for their child and why it could be very dangerous, but I will always put the student’s safety first and if that means I lose a pupil so be it.
Preparation for pointe
Students need a Theraband and a really hard ball, like a Lacross ball or a French Bowles so they can practise their exercises at home. These exercises will improve foot, ankle strength, they will also have been given exercises that improve the strength to hold their turn out and posture.
Student Responsibility for going en pointe
You never lend your pointe shoes to someone else.
When Practising pointe work at home you only practise holding on to a barre or similar and only practise the exercises you have been told to practise.
Never wear your pointe shoes outdoors or mess around in them indoors.
Do not bend the backs on your shoes ( A teacher may do this in order to help break the shoe in, but there is an art to it.)
Buying Pointe Shoes
Pointe shoes need to be fitted by a specialist. You will also need to purchase ribbons, elastic’s, and ouch pouches. You cannot buy them online.
You cannot buy the shoes with growing room and equally once they start to become too tight they must be replaced to prevent damage to your foot.
You must never have point shoes fitted in the summer holidays whether it is your first pair or 21st pair. - Because we spend a lot of time in flip flops and bare feet the foot changes shape, then as we go back to dance classes and wearing our school shoes your foot changes shape again resulting in the pointe shoes you bought during the holidays not fitting correctly. Therefore it is vital that you wait a few weeks. Poorly fitting shoes are dangerous.
Pointe shoes also wear out - the toe area may become soft which will make it painful to stand en pointe. The back may become too flexible, making it unsafe. If either of these happens they need to be replaced.
By the time you reach Advanced 1 you should have two pairs of pointe shoes ready to wear.