The contentious issue of pointe readiness. Young dancers will always wonder why their friend may be ready for going en pointe before they are. This decision is usually taken quite personally, and shouldn’t be, because often the variables are out of your control.

Ideally, dancers should only be allowed en pointe when a professional has deemed them ready. Unfortunately this means dancers will be ready at different times. This can create a difficult situation for ballet teachers, as putting dancers en pointe at different times can create a myriad of psychological and emotional problems.

I strongly recommend that pointe classes be performed firstly in flat, soft ballet shoes then in demi-pointe shoes, until the dancer demonstrates her readiness for pointe. Time spent strengthening and perfecting technique in flat, soft ballet shoes, will mean the musculoskeletal structure will cope with the huge demand of pointe work without fear of damage, and the risk of injury or permanent damage to the bones or muscle structure of the foot is dramatically lessened.

The student must demonstrate that they are mature and responsible enough in class to work safely en pointe. The dancer needs to display dedication during class and has a strong commitment to
attending regular classes.

A very important key factor is whether or not the bones in the feet are fully developed, strengthened and hardened. This varies from dancer to dancer and usually happens in the teenage years. This is a
process that can’t be accelerated.

Technically speaking, the dancer should be able to maintain turnout whilst dancing/has good use of plie/is well co-ordinated/presents good posture and alignment and has sufficient ankle mobility.

All of these areas will be checked by a professional in order for you to be deemed ready for the big step of going en pointe. Remember that your teacher is primarily thinking of your safety and readiness,
and his/her decision should not be seen as a personal bias.

Written by; Vicki Attard

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