18 Oct Is It Possible To Learn Pointe At Any Age?
Is It Possible To Learn Pointe At Any Age?
The question, “can you learn pointe at any age?” often gets discussed in ballet circles. However, teaching pointe to adults so they have the perfect pointe, involves more than doing the occasional pointe exercise.
This article aims to answer the question of whether you can learn pointe at any age, how to go about teaching pointe; and the best pre-pointe exercises and pointe exercises to achieve the perfect pointe technique.
Can You Learn Pointe At Any Age?
The simple answer to this question is that learning pointe at any age is possible. Adult feet are less likely to be damaged as their plates are already fully fused. However, this advantage is likely offset as adults new to pointe are unlikely to have a suitably-shaped foot or strong enough feet to dance en pointe.
Suppose you are already a ballet dancer and have been practicing for many years. In that case, pointe work will come more naturally to you than to adults who are absolute beginners. Ballet technique must be mastered before taking any pointe work to reduce the risk of injury.
Potential Issues Restricting Adults From Achieving Perfect Pointe
Limited flexibility is the main restricting factor for most adults learning pointe, as they cannot achieve a fully-pointed ankle position.
Improving this situation requires an incredible amount of effort and desire from an adult. Even then, lack of natural mobility may impede improving flexibility, reducing chances of achieving perfect pointe.
The strength level required for older students of pointe is much higher than that required of child dancers. Adults are considerably heavier than children, so more stress is placed on the feet and ankles when in certain positions, such as en fondu and petit allegro.
Adult dancers may take considerable time to develop isolated foot control, another restriction to learning perfect pointe. Mature bodies will have developed motor movement patterns, which need to be overcome even before practising pointe.
Foot control and coordination take years to perfect, so an adult new to dancing en pointe will need considerable practice to achieve the perfect pointe’s control and coordination.
Three ballet classes each week for one year is a decent rough estimate of the required level of experience before having sufficient foot control and coordination to take on pointe work.
Teaching Pointe To Adults
There are several theories about how dancing en pointe should be taught to adults. Our aim here is to give you what we consider to be a consensus among many ballet professionals.
We feel that there are three key aspects to consider about your current ballet classes before approaching your teacher about learning pointe:
- Your Classes and Technique. It is often more beneficial for adults to join a dance school that teaches syllabus work and sends its students for formal assessment.
- Your Dance Studio. Specializing in ballet studios are more conducive to teaching and learning pointe than a large dance school with various classes and dance styles.
- Your Teacher. You and your teacher should have a good working relationship. Your teacher should be focused on your technique, and they should know the strengths and limitations of your body and your technical ability. Their top considerations should be your safety and success.
Pre Pointe Exercises
Ultimately, it will be down to your teacher and you to decide when you are ready to start learning to dance en pointe. Before you start, it is essential that you set aside some time for pre-pointe exercises to condition your ankles and feet and improve your external rotation and balance. These exercises include:
- Theraband Exercises. Incorporating these exercises in your pre-pointe training will increase your ankle and foot strength.
- Doming. Doming exercises engage the muscles deep in your foot, making them more durable.
- Proprioception Exercises. These exercises help improve your balance by forcing your proprioceptors to make subtle adjustments.
- The Wall of Shame. This pilates exercise encourages you to hold turnout from your hip, a significant aspect of dancing en pointe.
Some more exercises:
- Leg and core body stretching and strengthening exercises.
- Forcing the foot arch to the front.
- Exercises to build strength and feeling in the toes.
- Ankle strengthening and stabilizing exercises.
- Push-ups on the big toe.
- ‘Pin & Spin’ exercise with a ball.
- General foot stretching exercises.
You can think about the transition to pointe work when you have conditioned your body sufficiently through your pre-pointe exercises.
Numerous pointe exercises can give you an excellent introduction to dancing en pointe.
Some teachers choose to skip some of the more basic exercises, preferring to get stuck into pointe work. However, some orientation exercises can iron out problems or bad habits previously picked up or avoid issues that might otherwise arise.
Pointe exercises include:
- Walking normally wearing pointe shoes. This exercise gets the dancer familiar with wearing pointe shoes and how they feel when moving.
- Balancing flat two-footed (in 1st Position, and progressing).
- Balancing flat single-footed.
- Ball tossing single-footed.
- Tendu (in centre)
- Weight transfer through 2nd and 4th.
- Ballet walks.
- Ballet runs
- Barre Work:
- Standing on pointe.
- Roll up to pointe
- Roll down from en pointe.
- Regular barre work.
- Simple waltz
- Waltz and allegro
- Continue with pre-pointe exercises as above.
These exercises aim to get students on their toes and familiarize them with how their feet feel and move in pointe shoes. These exercises will help considerably when the student starts to dance en pointe. For students who are quicker to adapt, these exercises can be adjusted accordingly to ensure the dancer continues to be challenged.
In answer to the question “can you learn pointe at any age,” the answer is yes, it is possible. However, whether you should give it a try or not is another question altogether.
Awareness of potential issues that might restrict you from achieving the perfect pointe should be the first factor in your decision. Consider your current technical level of dance, where you are training, and whether your teacher is suitable and knowledgeable to teach you pointe technique.
Having decided to start, ensure that you do as much preparation work as possible. These pre-pointe exercises will help improve your technique and reduce the risk of injury.
Even before you start to dance away from the barre, there are plenty of exercises you can carry out to help you develop a perfect pointe.
So, there is a lot to consider before putting on a pair of pointe shoes. However, if you have the dedication and the right teacher, you can start dancing pointe at any age.
We would love to help you to learn to dance en pointe, at the Russian School of Ballet. Our instructors have the skill, knowledge, and experience needed to safely introduce you to this beautiful dance style.
Take the first step towards your dream – sign up for our free trial/assessment class!