What Is The Right Age For Pointe?
Am I Too Young for Pointe? This is probably one of the most common questions I'm asked during pointe shoe fittings. 'Is my daughter too young to start pointe work?' 'What are the risks if she starts too soon?' 'What is the right age to start pointe?'
Here's the thing. There's no perfect answer. I'm going to do my best here to advise based on what is safest, but every situation is so unique and there are many factors at play. Use your own discretion in deciding what is right for you.
Firstly, it should be said that yes, there IS such a thing as being too young for pointe. Understandably, there are a number of risks at play for going onto pointe at a younger age. If little bodies are still growing, technique isn't strong, and feet muscles and bones are young and undeveloped, this can place great risk of injury and poor development in the years to come. Not to mention that some girls are so tiny that shoe sizes don't even go that small!
I have fit girls as young as 9 years old for pointe shoes. I was very hesitant to do so and gave warning that the buying of pointe shoes was done so at their own risk and the responsibility of the parent and teacher. Before I fit anyone, I inquire as to whether their teacher has given them the approval for pointe shoes. Younger dancers have usually been given this permission, but it still doesn't sit comfortably with me. As mentioned, there are great risks with being en pointe too soon. Some teachers may think the dancer is technically sound, or has reached the correct grade of ballet syllabus that would warrant pointe shoes. Despite this, the teacher may not be aware of the physical risks involved. Like I said, there are many elements at play and every situation is so individual!
If your teacher has said yes to pointe OR if they are undecided - before you go any further down the pointe road - book in to see a podiatrist. A podiatrist can look more closely at the bone and muscle structure of the foot and decipher a dancer's readiness and suitability for pointe. They can see if bones or muscles are strong and stable enough to commence pointe, and can spot any potential developmental risks for this age group (for example, a dancer may be more prone to stress fractures or developing bunions).
If I could give one blanket 'safety zone' age group, I would advise dancers from the age of 11 or 12 upwards. But! Consider this a very loose guide. Some dancers at 11 years may still be very tiny and not mentally prepared for pointe. On the flipside, other 11 year olds may have gone through a growth spurt, and are very mentally aware of technique and their body. Do what is right for you and if you're on the fence, consult with professionals. Worst case, you wait 6 months or a year to commence pointe. This is not a bad thing and won't delay the dancer in anyway long term!
Factors To Consider
I have a video coming out very soon which will look more closely at all the elements at play when deciphering when exactly is the right time to go onto pointe. Subscribe to the channel so you are notified of when this is released!
For now however, if you're trying to figure out whether or not your age is going to be a problem, consider the following -
- How long have you been doing ballet for?
- Do you have any major weaknesses in your technique?
- How strong and flexible are your feet?
- Have you started puberty?
- Have you stopped growing?
- What is your understanding of correct ballet technique?
- How disciplined are you?
These are just a few things to ask yourself! Like I said, I'll be doing a more in-depth analysis of the criteria that typically assesses your readiness for pointe. Keep an eye out!
If you have any topics you would like me to cover, let me know in a comment! And of course, if you have any questions regarding pointe or anything dance related, please reach out. I'm more than happy to help x