How To Be Ready For Pointe Work
Getting your first pair of pointe shoes is probably one of the most exciting occasions of life as a ballet dancer. Pointe is one of the core components that makes ballet the breathtaking art form that it is. It demonstrates a ballerina's poise and strength and is undoubtably one of the most challenging feats of human athletic performance.
This article is for those of you looking to prepare yourself in the best way possible for pointe work. You may be in one of two positions...
Firstly, your teacher may have told you you are not yet ready for pointe shoes. Despite your eagerness and hard work your teacher has not yet given you the green light. This can be incredibly disheartening, but your coach has your best interests at heart!
The second situation is that you may have been told either -you will be going en pointe in the new year or term, OR -you will be assessed on your readiness for pointe at a certain date in the coming months.
Whatever your situation, by following the advice outlined below, you will certainly see an improvement to your physical and mental capabilities ensuring a safe and successful transition into the world of pointe!
1. Ask for Corrections
The best way to know how to prepare for pointe shoes is by asking your teacher for specific guidance. Your coach knows your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to ballet better than anyone else - and are likely to be aware these traits even more than you! So, before or after your class, ask if you can talk for a few minutes regarding corrections.
This shows your coach that you are mature enough to take matters into your own hands. It shows initiative, discipline and strong eagerness to learn. Trust me, they will really appreciate you making this effort!
Ask your teacher for feedback regarding ballet class and specifically what areas you can improve on to be pointe ready. Your coach may recommend specific exercises for you to work on at home to speed up the process. Which brings me to my second point!
2. Strength & Technique Training at Home
Dedicate a few minutes every day to improving both your foot strength and technique at home. Find exercises that target strength development in your feet, ankles and calves. Simple foot articulation exercises such as slow tendus do wonders in strengthening all the tiny muscles throughout your toes and feet! I have a playlist of pre-pointe foot exercises on my YouTube channel if you need any ideas.
Also take a few minutes to work on improving any major areas of your technique that may be lacking. For example, you may have poor turnout. Turnout stems from leg rotation within the hip socket, so in this instance, you may like to perform a couple of exercises and stretches which focuses on improving this area. It's important not to neglect any major technique weaknesses, as solid technique is just as important as foot strength when it comes to pointe.
The easiest way to do extra practice at home is to dedicate 10 or so minutes to exercises before bed every night. Make it a part of your bedtime routine and eventually it will become habit!
By taking the time to do this every day, you are going to continue to improve strength, technique, focus and mental maturity required for pointe work.
3. Educate Yourself
Perhaps one of the best things you can do to be ready for pointe is to learn about it. Not many dancers take the extra time to do educate themselves further but it really makes the difference in understanding this complex area of ballet!
Do your own research on pointe shoes, history, training and more. Read books and articles, watch videos. Seek advice from dancers who are already en pointe - ask about their experiences and if they can give you any tips for preparing.
I'm aging myself now, but "back in my day" the internet wasn't exactly what it is today.. We have so many resources right at our fingertips now, there's never been a better time to learn more about the things we love!
For those of you preparing for pointe work, now is the time to be proactive and get ahead of the game so to speak. Ask your teacher for guidance and corrections, develop your strength and technique at home, and learn as much as you can in your own time. It will make a difference and you will head into your pointe journey far more understanding, focused and passionate. Good luck and let me know how you get on!
P.S. Feel free to let me know if there's any topics relating to dance that you'd like me to discuss via this blog or my podcast! I'm really keen to get a conversation happening around all things dance. And remember, no topic is off limits! Big love to you x