Is my dancer ready for pointe???
This is such a big and important question. It is one of hardest questions ballet teachers face. We don’t want to put them on pointe too early because they can really injure themselves. Ideally, the basis of going en pointe is the ability to solidly perform all the techniques in demi-pointé before proceeding to full pointe.
The International Association for Dance Medicine & Science (IADMS) asserts that dancers should be well developed in the areas of strength, range of motion (ROM) and technique, so that there is “good trunk/abdominal/pelvic control, correct alignment of legs, and sufficient ankle/plantarflexion range of motion.” (Plantarflexion is the ability to point the foot down as if going en pointe).
Screening x-rays to look at growth plate status are felt to be necessary as a safeguard against long term damage. It emphasizes that going en pointe too early compromises technique development and risks confidence and worse yet, injury.
Students much meet a spectrum of requirements in order to earn their pointe shoes at 3-D Dance.
1. General Requirements:
Age: in most cases, they should be no less than 12, older is better.
Training: 3 or 4 years of ballet since age 8.
Advancement: strength and technique to at least Company Ballet Level 3.
Frequency: should be currently be taking ballet a minimum of 2.5 hours weekly ballet technique classes.
2. Medical Clearance:
The student’s skeletal maturity is at the level that is usually expected at age 12 or older: Dancers should undergo an X-ray by a pediatrician, chiropractor or orthopedic doctor that you trust. The X-ray should show that bones are ossified and growth plates are fused enough to handle the pressure of dancing en pointe.
There should be no pre-existing conditions or poor foot and ankle alignment, or other medical problems which might be made worse by pointe work.
Alignment of bones in ankles and feet needs to be such that correct weight bearing on full pointe is possible to achieve.
3. Classroom Screening Tests:
The students will participate in an evaluation day where the teacher and director may determine the student is ready for pointe upon the correct demonstration of the following skills:
When the student can hold the supporting thigh fully turned out in all barre work.
When the student lands correctly from jumps with thighs well turned out, and feet in perfect alignment with knees, every time.
When the student can perform Pre-Pointe exercises on demi pointe correctly and well. Echappé relevé to 2nd in center is an excellent test to use. Strong legs and feet, no wobbly ankles, no straining of arms and shoulders.
If the full pointe position is not fully possible at first, the potential to achieve it within a year with slow and careful exercising of the ankles and feet needs to be there.
If the teacher and director determine that the student is ready to begin pointe work, the parent, student, teacher and/or director will attend a professional pointe shoe fitting together. The parent, student and teacher will sign a detailed agreement outlining the commitment expectations and progress plan before the student’s first class en pointe.
If the teacher and director determine that the student is NOT ready to begin pointe work at this time, a written plan will be provided to help the student continue to progress to the point of readiness.
Sources: http://www.balletcurriculum.com/is-my-student-ready-for-pointe/, Pointe 1: An Introduction to Pointe Work book by Ruth Brinkerhoff, www.3-ddance.com