What is Pointe Technique?
Pointe technique is when a ballet dancer transfers from a soft shoe to en-pointe; meaning, they place their entire bodyweight through the tips of their toes in a ballet shoe with a hard toe box.
When is it Safe to Start Pointe?
This depends on a number of factors.
Most dancers will transfer to en-pointe anywhere between the ages of 12-14; however, age is not a reliable indicator of a dancer’s readiness for pointe. Due to the variability of individual development through this age range it is important to look at the other factors listed below.
2. Foot and ankle range of motion and flexibility
It is important to have adequate range of motion at the foot and ankle into a pointed position. If a dancer is unable to reach this degree of pointe through the foot then their centre of mass will no longer be directly on top of their foot. This can lead to gripping of muscles in the lower body, pre-dispose to sprains/strains around the foot and make technical movements more difficult and not aesthetically pleasing. Additionally, it is important to maintain enough ‘bend’ through the ankle so that there is no restriction during plie or jumping movements.
3. Foot and ankle stability and strength
While some dancers may not have enough range of motion, others may in fact have too much. This requires an even higher degree of control around the ankle to prevent injury. It is important to have strength, stability and endurance in a full demi-pointe without loss of balance or ankle position. Maintaining a good lift in the arch of the foot is also important. It creates more stability throughout movements while en pointe and prevents rolling in of the foot during bending and jumping movements.
4. Hip, pelvic and core control
Good turnout is an essential part of ballet; however, many dancers give the impression of having good turn out by torqueing through the knees rather than producing the movement from this hips. If a dancer does not have the hip mobility and strength to hold the turnout that rotation will be lost when she transfers onto pointe. The entire lower kinetic chain from the core down to the toes is very intimately connected. It is important to be aware of the deep core muscles to prevent excessive strain from being placed on the hips and low back.
What is a Pre-Pointe Assessment?
Identifying whether you, your dancer or your child is ready for Pointe is vital to prevent injury, improve technique and performance and progress through more difficult ballet skills. A pre-pointe assessment will look at a number of areas including: postural alignment; hip, knee and foot control through a variety of dance specific movements; foot and ankle mobility and strength; balance and proprioception; turn out; hip and pelvic mobility and control.