It’s every ballet dancer’s dream: making that elusive transition from flat ballet shoes (which now seem so boring) to dancing in pointe shoes. The shiny pink shoes, the long satin ribbons, the seemingly effortless pique turns across the stage…it’s like they say in A Chorus Line: “Everything is beautiful at the ballet.”
But dancing on pointe is unlike any other kind of dancing. It requires serious strength, control, and focus. Without those things, you risk injury and other setbacks. While it will ultimately be up to your ballet teacher to decide when you’re ready to start dancing on pointe, here are a few things to keep in mind before making the leap (er, grand jete).
1. How old are you? If you go on pointe before you’re properly developed, you risk serious injury or even deformities. For most dancers, pointework starts around age 12 or 13. But it’s entirely personal and depends on your development and the state of your bones. Soft bones = bad for pointe!
2. How long have you been dancing? If you just started taking classes at a studio in the past year or two, you’ll want some more serious training under your belt before hopping into pointe shoes. Even if you’re “old enough” to go on pointe, you’ll need to have ample proper training and understanding of body placement before making the shift.
3. How strong are you? You don’t have to have six-pack abs to go on pointe, but you do need to be strong. You’ll be carrying and distributing your weight in a totally different way, and both your muscles and bones need to be able to adapt without causing injury.
Finally, remember that you probably won’t just put on your new pointe shoes and immediately be able to pirouette and bourré across the studio floor. Have patience. Like any new style, it takes time and commitment. Take it slow, keep your toes warm and happy, and you’ll be Swan Lake-ing when the time is right!