How Do We Know Our Child Is Ready For Pointe Work


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How Do We Know Our Child Is Ready For Pointe Work

  1. 1. ==== ====For helpful tips on pointe work, please take a look at this: ====1. Most teachers believe the appropriate age is 11, when the growth spaces between the bonesclose sufficiently to allow the extraordinary effort required of the feet. As bones grow closertogether, there is less opportunity for injury or actual distortion. 11 also loosely correspond to anage when the physical frame gets stronger. Believers of this school of thought will tell you "neverbefore 11." Exceptionally they will train a 10 year old but require a foot Xray and an orthopedistsO.K.What troubles me here is that too many teachers rely on age and do not necessarily take intoaccount all other factors such as number of years in ballet ( 3 minimum ), how many times perweek during those 3 years and regularity of attendance. Example: a child taking one hour perweek for 3 years is not a candidate for Pointe work.2. Other teachers do not consider the age factor as that important, the issue being one ofpreparation as opposed to actual age. Some highly reputable schools put girls as young as nineon Pointe but these girls have been in ballet exclusively, almost every day for 1 ½ hours, forseveral years. These girls do not take Tap because it is counter-indicated for Pointe (Tap requiresloose ankles).Also, these teachers are extremely careful and do not allow the child away from thebarre for one full year. The theory here is that the foot should be shaped and strengthened forPointe while it is still malleable but this is handled with extreme care.One cannot argue with the results obtained by these schools; they are impressive. If option 2 isyour choice, please make absolutely certain your child is in the hands of an expert. By the way,they usually do not allow the girls to take the Pointe shoes home. Shoes have to be kept at theschool so the child is not tempted to put them on and try inappropriate steps without professionalsupervision. That, in itself, is a starting indication of the teachers qualifications.The single most important factor in the decision is the child herself. There are a number ofphysical things which must be present, no matter what the age.oDoes the child have a good natural arch to her foot?oDoes she rise to the half toe correctly, straight up and not crooked?oDoes she totally straighten her knees on "relevé"? This is crucial.oAre her knees and ankles still wobbly, in general? They should not be.oAre her abdominal muscles strong enough to support her back?
  2. 2. oIs her lower back strong or does she still have the "baby sway back" postureso many girls have a hard time outgrowing?oDoes the child have good turn out of the legs, from the hip joint? Is she strong enough tosustain that turn out on Pointe?oDoes she have any kind of inherited orthopedic problem? (example: scoliosis in her back,pronated feet, bunions on either foot )To me, any one of the above raises a red flag and is something to improve upon before attemptingPointe work.Finally, you want to look at the teacher herself. She should not be a student but a fully qualifiedprofessional. She should have several years teaching experience (a great dancer does notnecessarily make a great teacher). She should take the process very slowly, never rushing just tokeep her children entertained. She should keep the girls at the barre for as long as it takes, notallowing them to attempt things in the center floor until completely ready to work without support.Very wobbly ankles, knees that dont straighten, legs turning in, poor posture and the inability toget up completely on the platform of the shoe are indications of too much too soon.Information on fitting ballet pointe shoes, taking care of them, frequently asked questions canbe found in www.ballet-feetfirst.comANNE POLAJENKO The French-born ballerina received her training at the National Academy ofDance and at the famed La Scala Opera of Milano, Italy. Upon graduation, she joined the GenevaGrand Theater Ballet, where she performed as Soloist or Principal Dancer in every ballet of theclassical repertory and worked with choreographers such as George Balanchine, Antony Tudor,Nicholas Beriosoff and Serge Golovine. From 1968-73, Ms. Polajenko had the unique opportunityof performing the Balanchine repertory under the tutelage of the choreographer himself. In 1968she was also appointed company Régisseur in charge of coordinating company schedules,tours, costumes and shoes.With 35 years of ballet teaching, she has served as coordinator for Miami City Ballets OutreachProgram (north campus),and is currently Childrens Ballet Mistress for George Balanchines TheNutcracker™ for Miami City BalletArticle Source:
  3. 3. ==== ====For helpful tips on pointe work, please take a look at this: ====