Jump to content
NeverTooOld

Starting pointe as an adult

Recommended Posts

Hi all, I'm looking for some tips from other adult dancers that have gone onto pointe later in life. I got my first pointe shoes last year in my mid forties and am still struggling to do anything away from the barre. In barre exercises I can do most of them just with 2 fingers or even 1 finger sometimes lightly resting on the barre so it isn't that I need the support, I think it is more of a mental block. I'm in class with 13-15 year olds and they seem to throw themselves up there without a second thought, one girl last night was doing her first ever class in them and seemed like she'd been in them forever! I know you do second guess things much more as you get older and don't have the same gusto and fearlessness that you have as a teenager. Have any of the other adult dancers here experienced this and how did you get over it? Thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, the same here except that it wasn't even that I'd never danced on pointe before. I had danced on pointe till I was about 40 and thought taking it up again would be "just like riding a bicycle, you never forget." Well, how wrong can you be? I do think that it's largely a mental block. I got to be confident at the barre but every second in the centre was a struggle and I could never tell if I would manage to get up or not. It's as if there was an equal and opposite invisible force always pulling me back and I think that force was fear. I managed enough to just about limp through my Inter exam, with a failing mark for that section. It has prevented me from continuing with Advanced Foundation. I've stopped pointe again now, probably for ever, because I don't think it's any good for my bunyons, although I still get occasional urges. Sorry that I can't offer any tips on how to get over it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for your reply and sorry to hear that you've stopped pointe now. Good to hear that you also felt it was a mental block and fear though and it isn't just me! Just got to work out how to get over it now! :) 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I started pointe a little over two years ago (am now 30). I was scared to take my hands off the barre, very reluctant to do anything in the centre and my brain shut down any time I tried to do anything new. Part of it was mental but I was also in a lot of pain and didn't want to hurt myself (or experience discomfort) in any way, shape or form. I got to the stage where I was struggling to do anything at all and could see myself regressing. I didn't want to be the person who blamed her shoes so blamed myself. I tried working on my technique and my strength and got really hardhearted and frustrated when I was still useless.Turns out I was in the wrong shoe. Got a narrower shoe and it was like a flip switched on. The change was immediate. I was comfortable and felt secure, supported and was in control. I'm still a very long way from being good but now I'm not sinking into my shoe and I can balance, I'm much more willing to attempt things I can't do and knowing there are definitely things I can do now that I couldn't before builds confidence.

 

I do have a very rambling series of videos on youtube of me complaining about my pointe shoes and my slow progress if you're interested. 

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How long have you been dancing as an adult NeverTooOld? 

Its probably a good idea to do at least two years of classes ...possibly more if only going once a week.

You really have to have strong back and core muscles .....as well as incredibly strong feet if you don't want to end up struggling with pointe work. Some adults are maybe a bit too impatient to get on to pointe when they are not really ready for it. 

 

I agree getting a good shoe fitting is very important .....and I believe there is now a make of shoe available which practically puts you on pointe without much effort required....probably okay in fact for adult dancers ....but not good for younger dancers wanting to be Professionals as this shoe will not develop foot strength as you don't go through the foot with it ....I 'll have to get the name of it from a friend!! 

When I originally went back to ballet in my 60's I was initially very tempted to have a go at pointe especially as had done quite a bit when younger .....but my feet are terrible with proper bunions etc so in the end decided on balance against it as I didn't want to do it just for the sake of it .....I would have wanted to be able to do centre work properly and thought it probably not a good idea to put my feet through all that again!! 

 

Obviously adult dancers who have never been on pointe will be attracted to have a go ...and why not...but it will take a while to get confident enough to leave the barre .....especially if the required muscles are just not strong enough. 

I would say to beginners at least two/ three  years of ballet classes first and then two years of pointework before doing anything much more than bourrees and echappees in the centre is possible. 

Pointework is often only a small part of a class for most though there are pointwork classes only available .....usually attached to attending a class beforehand ....but it's for most adult ballet learners not that much time hence progress is always going to be a bit slow.

 

You can get proficient on pointe as an adult starter but most of the people I know who are have been dancing six years plus and are usually ballet nuts ( love them!) so attend quite a lot of classes a week. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

mental blocks  are part of it 

  power to  weight is  unfortunately   part of the   issue for  the vast majority of adults  new to pointe  - especially if you are comparing yourself to to  'typical age' Inter foundation and Inter dancers 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for the replies. Probably worth looking at my shoes Balletgremlin as I do slip down a bit (was fine when fitted and checked by teacher but changed over time). LinMM I've been back doing ballet for around 4 years now. For most of the last year I have been doing 3 hours per week plus an extra hour and a half private lesson leading up to an exam in the summer with extra practise etc at home. My teacher did assess me before we went for the fitting and said my feet etc were strong enough although I know my core could be much stronger. I do also take on board that I'm obviously heavier than the majority of teens, trying to lose weight though! Thanks all for the feedback though :)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I suspect a lot of fitters probably don’t have much experience with adult beginners. We had a lovely fitting session in Freed today which sorted out some of

my wife’s issues and magically got me a pair of shoes that feel as if they fit. I suspect the fit will need refining after I get some experience though. 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Completely agree with the above - the mind is a powerful tool and can hinder as well as help! 

Look at how children show little fear and fling themselves around play parks, jumping around with little concern about injury. 


As adults we’ve learnt to hold back and consider the “what ifs”. 


Quite how we unlearn the self preservation, I’m not sure. But I know if I distract my self-doubting mind from...”I can’t turn to the left” or “I don’t like this step”...I seem to be able to do it better?!

 

Core and strength/weight ratio are also key. I’ve noticed a huge difference in my ability when I work on these. Although whether part of it is due to a mental shift as I feel more capable...who knows?! 
 

Oh and a well fitted shoe is a pre-requisite :)

 

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Sheila Beelam said:

Oh and a well fitted shoe is a pre-requisite :)


And if you have doubts about the fit,

that’ll undermine your confidence. One of the problems for a beginner is working out what a good fit feels like.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Shoes are a big part, fear is a big part and experience is a big part. The reason why you can't dance in the centre is partly because...you never dance in the centre. The more experience you get the more natural it will feel and the more you will be able to do. Remember how strange everything felt in your first ballet class? This is like starting over again, except 5 inches higher up. 

 

But oh what those 5 inches of extra height does to our brains! Being an adult, pointe is scary. All you can think about is how unnatural it feels and how you're going to fall and hurt yourself. The problem with fear is it becomes a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. I was having huge issues with my pointe coming back from an injury (in fact I posted about it here - see below). In 2017 I was struggling to do releves on one leg at the barre which seemed like the end of the world at the time. Looking back, having completed my advanced foundation exam and started working towards advanced 1, I actually have to laugh a bit at myself. I have just injured myself again so I mentally I will probably go back to being scared for a few months, but I know there's a path through it now.

 

What I've learned since then is that a lot of the time, your fear is holding you back physically as well as mentally. When we are scared or in pain, we hesitate, hold ourselves stiff and don't commit fully to the movement. I feel like when I'm scared I hold my arms in closer to my body instead of supporting them from the back. I am scared to go up so I kind of hop up en pointe and immediately come back down because I'm scared. And then I go well look, I can't do it because I didn't stay up! Ummm...you see the flaw? Chances are you're also looking down at your feet to make sure that they're behaving (trust me, they're still there even if you can't seen them). Where your eyes go, your body will follow. If you look down, down you will go! 

 

The trick to confident, strong pointe work, is being confident and strong. It sounds like you're strong enough or your teacher wouldn't have put you up there. The confidence is something only you can control. Next time you are doing echappes or releves in the centre, pull up taller, support yourself properly and trust yourself! Feel yourself grow taller at the waist as you go up en pointe, try to feel like there's an extra inch of space between your hips and your ribcage. Keep your chin up, project out from your sternum and engage your back. All of this will help to lift you up, you'll find you're more stable without even realising how you're doing it. Don't dance small! Do your exercises like you're performing them for an audience. Trust that you can do it and throw yourself into believing that you can. There's some element of 'fake it till you make it here'. Believe that you can, and you will. Do it and you will believe that you can!

 

And also, give yourself a break. The more stressed you are the tenser you will be which certainly won't help. Remember, inside all of us adults who try their hand at pointe is some sort of desire to feel beautiful, ethereal, effortless. So feel beautiful 😊 And let us know how you get on!

 

 

Edited by Viv
  • Like 7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for all of your answers and support, some really good advice here. I will keep trying and will let you know how I get on :)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think the strength/weight ratio is one I had overlooked! 
when on pointe when younger ( 12–15 then 25- 40) I was good 2 stones lighter!!

My current weight is 11st 2lbs and has been just under or just over 11st for past 8 years when returned to ballet for the third time. 
At a fraction under 5ft 8ins is this too heavy for pointe work ...even if reasonably strong? 
I don’t know but this ratio of strength to weight is probably quite hard to work out other than an intuitive feeling of the individual dancer. 
I think my decision not to take up pointe work again is very much based on being a very much older dancer than average. 
It was more based on the time I thought it would take to get back to a degree of reasonable proficiency against any further foot damage taking place ..although my extra weight did cross my mind briefly I wasn’t really thinking that much about it but now think that would have been rather important!! 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, LinMM said:

I think the strength/weight ratio is one I had overlooked! 
when on pointe when younger ( 12–15 then 25- 40) I was good 2 stones lighter!!

My current weight is 11st 2lbs and has been just under or just over 11st for past 8 years when returned to ballet for the third time. 
At a fraction under 5ft 8ins is this too heavy for pointe work ...even if reasonably strong? 
I don’t know but this ratio of strength to weight is probably quite hard to work out other than an intuitive feeling of the individual dancer. 
I think my decision not to take up pointe work again is very much based on being a very much older dancer than average. 
It was more based on the time I thought it would take to get back to a degree of reasonable proficiency against any further foot damage taking place ..although my extra weight did cross my mind briefly I wasn’t really thinking that much about it but now think that would have been rather important!! 

 

 

i know a  numberof people doing pointe  classs who are  80- 95 kg  ...  and  have a  situation   which means  gaining and maintaining strength is  really  rather slow ...  

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’ll report back on how progress at over a 105kg goes. 😂

 

Though, to be fair, I think my ankles and foot bones may be about four times the cross section of more traditional dancers on pointe.

  • Like 4

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In 2007, Amande Concerts bought The Big Ballet to the UK and the ladies where all 100kg plus, and danced on pointe. Graceful too. In an interview, one of them said they had to modify the pirouette to get around. I thought that I did a review but I can't find it.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A bit late in the day now but the modern pointe shoes which supposedly or allegedly make it easier to get up on pointe are Gaynor Mindens ....they are made of very different materials to other pointe shoes ....so it's important to get the right strength shank initially with this shoe .....you should still ideally be able to go up on pointe through Demi pointe and not be pushed up onto pointe by the shoe which would mean the shank is too strong for your foot.....as they apparently don't wear out that easily! 

 

For an adult dancer doing pointework once or twice  a week and who doesn't need the strength of foot required by a Professional dancer they could be very good I suppose .....as you won't have to keep buying new pointe shoes though I believe are expensive to buy compared to other shoes ....depends how quickly you get through normal pointe shoes though. 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’m not sure whether this photo will upload, but I saw a lady in her 50’s today who was new to pointe and struggles to leave the barre. The shoe on the left is the one she’s had for about 6 months and the one on the right is what we fitted her in today. 
Her centre of gravity is so far back as she can’t get on to the platform it’s no wonder she needs the barre! She’s in a much better alignment in the new shoe and this will improve further with ribbons and a little breaking in.

Shoes are SO important! ❤️

3DF99E19-A9C3-4956-97FD-FD1445551142.jpeg

Edited by alison
Correction
  • Like 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Sheila Beelam said:

 The shoe on the left is the one she’s had for about 6 months and the one on the left is what we fitted her in today. 

 

I think your second "left" should be a "right", shouldn't it, Sheila?

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, Sheila Beelam said:

Yes you're correct Alison! I can't seem to edit it though....! 

 

You can only edit within half an hour of posting.  I've corrected it for you :) 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...