Jump to content

I’ve been struggling with pointe and I’m loosing my drive


Recommended Posts

Hi everyone I’m new here but I really wanted to talk to other dancers and see if I could get some advice. I’ve been doing ballet since I was 3 years old and about year and a half ago my ballet teacher decided to start us on pointe work. Now I did start on pointe a couple months later than the other girls in my class, however with practice and lessons I should’ve been able to get onto releve on pointe in a few weeks, but I haven’t been able to at all.

 

I tried to give myself the benefit of the doubt, but this year two other girls joined my ballet class, they haven’t been training as long and their already on releve without having to use a barre and I don’t know what wrong with me as to why I can’t do it. On barre or off I cannot for the life of me get onto releve and it’s killing me at this point I don’t know what to do.

 

I find when I try to go on releve my calf's feel really tight I’m not too sure if that has something to do with it, or I’m not to sure if my shoes could be the reason I can’t get up (I have Bloch Heritage shoes). I don’t know but I want to fix the problem however I can. Right now the only way I can remotely get onto releve is if I try from a deep plie in second but the minute I try to straighten my legs nothing I just can’t get up. 
 

I’ve had to miss out on what’s going to be two years of pointe performances because I can’t get up. I just wanna dance I don’t want to miss a third.

 

So pleaseee if ANYONE has ANY advice I will take it 

 

Thank you <3

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Spend time watching Lisa Howell's videos online. She is an Australian physiotherapist who specialises in ballet. She also has written material to buy and download about foot readiness for pointe, strengthening exercises and how to break in pointe shoes.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Colman said:

Two immediate questions: how old are you, and what does your teacher say? 

I’m 17 and my teacher has been telling me to just keep working at it and to keep doing exercises but I’m not seeing improvement 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Pas de Quatre said:

Spend time watching Lisa Howell's videos online. She is an Australian physiotherapist who specialises in ballet. She also has written material to buy and download about foot readiness for pointe, strengthening exercises and how to break in pointe shoes.

Thank you I’ll check her out 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 minutes ago, Shaithedancer said:

I’m 17 and my teacher has been telling me to just keep working at it and to keep doing exercises but I’m not seeing improvement 

 

In that case I think I'd try a couple of things: maybe getting a few classes - online or otherwise depending where you're based, though preferably in person - with someone else expert. It's possible you're not using your body properly - mentioning your calf does makes me wonder if you're depending too much on those muscles - and your teacher's explanations just aren't working for you. A different teacher might explain something in a way that clicks, or recognise an issue your teacher hasn't seen. I'm sure people here can recommend teachers.

 

I'd also get a new fitting, preferably a couple of different opinions. If the shoe isn't right then you're doomed and if you're inexperienced you may not recognise that. 

 

Lisa Howell's stuff comes widely recommended by teachers I trust but I think you need new feedback and guidance. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

19 minutes ago, Colman said:

 

In that case I think I'd try a couple of things: maybe getting a few classes - online or otherwise depending where you're based, though preferably in person - with someone else expert. It's possible you're not using your body properly - mentioning your calf does makes me wonder if you're depending too much on those muscles - and your teacher's explanations just aren't working for you. A different teacher might explain something in a way that clicks, or recognise an issue your teacher hasn't seen. I'm sure people here can recommend teachers.

 

I'd also get a new fitting, preferably a couple of different opinions. If the shoe isn't right then you're doomed and if you're inexperienced you may not recognise that. 

 

Lisa Howell's stuff comes widely recommended by teachers I trust but I think you need new feedback and guidance. 

Thank you this was really helpful I’ll take all the advice and tips I’m also going to look into beginner pointe classes near me just so i can get the extra training and a second opinion, I was also really considering a new fitting I felt like my first one wasn’t in depth enough and barely scratched the surface. Also someone else mentioned Lisa so I’m definitely gonna check her out thanks again

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 I'm sorry you're disheartened by your lack of progress in pointe.
When you rise on pointe or step up in parallel- does everything feel right? Do you feel nicely over the box of your shoes but still lifted out of your shoe? Your toes are hoping to be straightened and not crunched. The alignment of your body? Is it correct when you are standing parallel en pointe facing the barre? What does your teacher say about your basic pointe position? Is she happy? Happy with your body alignment? Positioning of your weight? Happy with your shoes? Do you have difficult feet for pointe - little arch or instep or inflexible feet? Has your teacher given you plenty additional strength and flexibility exercises before you started pointe work?

Does your teacher mention all of the above and give you corrections on the above technique?

 

 To be blunt, your teacher should be giving you lots of careful advice and extra help with additional exercises and not be leaving you to ' get it eventually'.

 

It might be a sign to get a new teacher or at least extra help and support.

 

 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just an afterthought 

In a releve, you 'snatch' or move the foot underneath your body weight.

In other words, you are replacing your heel position with your toe as you pull the foot sharply underneath you. In 2nd you would be pulling those legs and feet towards each other and to a central point. The movement starts with having a super strong core and using your glutes and thighs to snatch your feet under your weight and a feeling of lift and perfect alignment through the torso and shoulders up to the crown of your head. Just wondering if you need more replacement. I would practice parallel facing the barre.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi, I’m not a dancer so I cant share any first hand knowledge of dance technique.  What I can share is my thoughts on reading your message. 

You sound motivated and keen to find a solution. Please feel proud of yourself for this. good luck on your pointes journey, it’s a hard and long road for many dancers !
 

And remember, being aware of other dancers is important but don’t lose your sparkle by getting trapped in comparison….
“Comparison is the thief of joy” Theodore Roosevelt 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Something that may be worth considering is finding a ballet physio who could analyse your body/technique and give you more targeted exercises if there is a specific area you may be lacking strength or so on in?  I’m coming at this from a different angle, as an adult beginner hoping to progress to pointe, and have been working with a physio just since mid-April and it’s already made a noticeable difference to aspects of my work in regular classes.  I initially went because I had an old ankle injury that restricted mobility a bit, but when he heard it had come up in a pre-pointe assessment he suggested running through a whole lot of pre-pointe tests so we’ve been working on various things including core strengthening.  He’s also cleared up a few areas where the foot exercises I was doing were actually not simple enough for my feet which meant I wasn’t working correctly, so we went to more basic forms (basically the foot equivalent of getting relevé passé right before trying to quarter turn before trying to pirouette…). 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Re: Pirouettes…Going up before going round is key!

But a very common thing to see in class is trying to start the turn as the supporting foot begins to releve…or even starting to try turn even sooner - with shoulder & elbow wrongly leading & almost forcing a turn. Starting the turn first will make it so much harder to get to full releve -whether en pointe or Demi-pointe & the positioning of weight will be harder to balance. Pushing up first will stabilise & centre the weight correctly meaning cleaner & more turns possible. 
I hope my description makes sense (& speaking as one I know guilty of this I’m sure….!)

A description I recall from one teacher was to be like a cork popping out of a bottle!
So I like to think pop up first before allowing the fizz out of the bottle….the fizz is the turn! I’m aiming to be a classy vintage champagne with 2 clean precise turns….I see some very flashy young dancers who are definitely bright young bottles of bubbly spinning effortlessly round multiple times! 

Edited by Peanut68
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, LinMM said:

Isn’t this the norm though ….you wouldn’t be trying to turn if you can’t do a releve’ passe’ first? 

One would hope. It was just an analogy for illustration.  That said, learning as an adult can be hit and miss for this sort of thing - I’ve done over five years of beginner level classes and seen plenty of people trying to pirouette without a serviceable relevé passé… I personally spent three years stubbornly sitting out pirouette exercises or replacing them with relevé passé because I didn’t want to embarrass myself if I failed, which I later regretted.  

 

What I was getting at was that in the foot strengthening exercises at the beginning of the pointe class I’ve been attending, I was being expected to do something that I did not realise I did not have the underlying strength/technique for and because no one picked it up I had spent several months attempting it incorrectly and misunderstanding how I was meant to be working my foot.  The physio was able to break it down and explain it properly so that I can practice a more fundamental version and build up to the full version, and actually understand what I am meant to be feeling and doing.  

Edited by SugarPlumpFairy
  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes I forget that good teaching for pointework for adult learners can be a bit patchy. I think some adult learners persuade teachers to let them try pointe shoes etc which there is nothing wrong with ….if they are ready! I suppose it’s more difficult to say no to adult learners but I’ve  noticed it’s definitely a goal for a lot of adult beginners to want to try pointe work….and mostly too soon!  The problem is many only do one class a week and it’s very difficult to get the core and feet strong enough for pointework on one class a week. 
I was lucky as I was doing 4/5 classes a week when I went on pointe as a 12 year old. And later on as an adult I had an extremely good teacher but already had the basics etc. 
I don’t do pointework any longer and have no wish to anymore but do understand why some are so keen to who have never done it. 
But it is excruciating to see people on pointe with bent knees and not properly over the shoe doing things in the centre they shouldn’t be!!! 
Professionals are on pointe hours on most days so of course they are strong and make it look so easy but mostly they’ve had years of preparation too!! 
 

Anyway I hope you can make good progress with your own pointework …..sometimes just a case of being patient with yourself as your body and feet get stronger! 


 
 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, LinMM said:

Yes I forget that good teaching for pointework for adult learners can be a bit patchy. I think some adult learners persuade teachers to let them try pointe shoes etc which there is nothing wrong with ….if they are ready! I suppose it’s more difficult to say no to adult learners but I’ve  noticed it’s definitely a goal for a lot of adult beginners to want to try pointe work….and mostly too soon!  The problem is many only do one class a week and it’s very difficult to get the core and feet strong enough for pointework on one class a week. 
I was lucky as I was doing 4/5 classes a week when I went on pointe as a 12 year old. And later on as an adult I had an extremely good teacher but already had the basics etc. 
I don’t do pointework any longer and have no wish to anymore but do understand why some are so keen to who have never done it. 
But it is excruciating to see people on pointe with bent knees and not properly over the shoe doing things in the centre they shouldn’t be!!! 
Professionals are on pointe hours on most days so of course they are strong and make it look so easy but mostly they’ve had years of preparation too!! 
 

Anyway I hope you can make good progress with your own pointework …..sometimes just a case of being patient with yourself as your body and feet get stronger! 


 
 

I've been to lessons with a really good teacher before who let adults on pointe who were nowhere near ready. It really made me cringe as their technique was all wrong and surely an injury risk. Some were on pointe for the whole lesson rather than just a short specific pointe section at the end once warmed up too.

 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I’m hoping that in these instances teachers have indicated that being on pointe (if a beginner on pointe) the whole lesson is not usually a good idea but feels if some insist on carrying on against advice they can’t control it as much as with a child. 
Personally I don’t see why teachers can’t be more authoritative…it’s their class after all….but perhaps they fear they will lose custom otherwise in an area difficult to make a living. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Shaithedancer in your case there is no obvious reason why you shouldn’t be able to do pointework as you ‘ve been dancing a long time and should have the ground work for it. 
If your current teacher can’t help with advice …not even on the shoes…then perhaps it’s time to look elsewhere. 
When you bought your shoes did you just turn up at the shop? I don’t know how near London you are but it may be a good idea to book an appointment with one of the London shops pointe shoe fitters. I’m sure Capezio and Bloch in Endell street (very close together) and Freeds in St Martin’s Lane will be accommodating for this especially if you say you’ve had problems. 
If there is some actual physical problem with your feet or ankles then you might need a visit to a podiatrist or physio to give you more advice. 
I do hope you could have a go at getting more help in this respect from your current teacher. Do you attend classes more than once a week currently as maybe she doesn’t realise how important it is to you. 
 

Just to add that towards the end of your post you say you just want to dance. Well I hope you do get your pointework sorted out but it’s not actually required to dance you can be a lovely dancer without being on pointe. 

 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, LinMM said:

Yes I forget that good teaching for pointework for adult learners can be a bit patchy. I think some adult learners persuade teachers to let them try pointe shoes etc which there is nothing wrong with ….if they are ready! I suppose it’s more difficult to say no to adult learners but I’ve  noticed it’s definitely a goal for a lot of adult beginners to want to try pointe work….and mostly too soon!  The problem is many only do one class a week and it’s very difficult to get the core and feet strong enough for pointework on one class a week. 
I was lucky as I was doing 4/5 classes a week when I went on pointe as a 12 year old. And later on as an adult I had an extremely good teacher but already had the basics etc. 
I don’t do pointework any longer and have no wish to anymore but do understand why some are so keen to who have never done it. 
But it is excruciating to see people on pointe with bent knees and not properly over the shoe doing things in the centre they shouldn’t be!!! 
Professionals are on pointe hours on most days so of course they are strong and make it look so easy but mostly they’ve had years of preparation too!! 
 

Anyway I hope you can make good progress with your own pointework …..sometimes just a case of being patient with yourself as your body and feet get stronger! 


 
 

 
In my class, a definite NO! 

As you say, the only exception is an adult who did a lot of good, basic training as a youngster and has retained that ability but it would be unusual, even then, to maintain all the criteria to be safe and secure. It's not fun to injure yourself, potentially a serious injury.
I think the word criteria sums up how I feel about this. There is a standard of technical excellence and strength that needs to be met before anyone takes it to the level where they are attempting to do it on a small block. And lifting themselves on and off the block effortlessly. The knowledge can't simply be in the brain. It's got to have been fully integrated into every muscle, bone and fibre. This takes years and years of training several times a week. It's not just a bit of fun to try as a hobby.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Firstly, a serious question that was prompted by a comment in this thread, 

 

What do people/ teachers mean when they say ‘lift out of the shoe’?


If I was given this cue as a student I would have no idea what to do.

 

-

 

Secondly, I can wholeheartedly recommend Lisa Howells resources.


https://theballetblog.com/project_category/pointe/

 

https://mybeginnerpointe.com
 

https://mybeginnerpointe.com/shop/my-beginner-pointe-online-version/

 

 

 

YouTube playlist:

 

 

 

 

Edited by Doing Dance 1
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Lifting out of the shoe" is about imagery and focus more than the actual action (physically it's not entirely possible of course!) It's about ensuring you're on your leg and high up on your hip - to be able to feel & do this, you need to have an engaged core, that is zipped up under your ribs. It's a reminder to pull up! pull up! pull up!

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would liken lifting out of your shoe to sitting on a chair properly, and not like most of us do, when we sink into a seat and use it to take all our weight ( often with bad posture of the spine) and are totally unaware of anything other than relaxing. Sitting 'actively' would be being aware of weight and posture and 'actively' using our muscles in our core and back to 'maintain' a good posture and positioning of the body.
Same en pointe. Actively using the strength in the toes, metatarsal, thighs, glutes, core and spine to maintain an upwardly lifted position and the opposite of 'sitting' in the shoes where the shoe is taking the strain. Lots of photos on Tic tock of dancers feet en pointe in shoes and without demonstrating the straightness of the toes and lifting upwards. The doming exercises done on the floor, in all stages of difficulty, are the greatest preparation alongside other strength and prep exercises.

No one should have to be taught pointe from a blog on the internet. I was suggesting an idea that hopefully was already commonplace in the class.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)
37 minutes ago, Kate_N said:

"Lifting out of the shoe" is about imagery and focus more than the actual action (physically it's not entirely possible of course!) It's about ensuring you're on your leg and high up on your hip - to be able to feel & do this, you need to have an engaged core, that is zipped up under your ribs. It's a reminder to pull up! pull up! pull up!


As you say ‘physically it’s not entirely possible’, I always question why these types of cues are perpetuated even if used as imagery. 

I wonder if anyone can think of alternatives that would achieve the desired goal.

Edited by Doing Dance 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 minutes ago, Ruby Foo said:

I would liken lifting out of your shoe to sitting on a chair properly...

 

… Actively using the strength in the toes, metatarsal, thighs, glutes, core and spine to maintain an upwardly lifted position and the opposite of 'sitting' in the shoes where the shoe is taking the strain.

Thank you for taking the time to clarify the above.  
Most useful.

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is going well off-topic …

 

I think it's important to distinguish between imagery and literal directions - "lift with your hamstrings" being a particular bugbear - but imagery is useful if you can find images that work for you. You can hardly give specific instructions to each muscle you need to activate, and it wouldn't be helpful if you could.

 

This is why I say a different teacher could be useful, because they'll use different cues - my normal teacher is great, but some of the cues she uses make no sense to me (see above) and cues based around  energy management - feeling an extension or energy flow around the back of the leg and out the foot for instance - from a different teacher work much better for me.

 

Being told to activate a particular set of hip flexors and core muscles in a complicated sequence is far too much to think about and almost nobody has that much conscious control anyway.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lift out of your pointe shoe means to engage and lift the muscles at the front of the instep and ankle. A good way to feel it is to sit on a chair with your toes touching the floor as if on pointe, in bare feet or socks. A common problem seen these days is that it is the fashion for dancers press down and over trying make their feet look more arched and breaking the shoe too much. In the long run it simply weakens the feet and ankles.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

28 minutes ago, Pas de Quatre said:

Lift out of your pointe shoe means to engage and lift the muscles at the front of the instep and ankle. A good way to feel it is to sit on a chair with your toes touching the floor as if on pointe, in bare feet or socks. A common problem seen these days is that it is the fashion for dancers press down and over trying make their feet look more arched and breaking the shoe too much. In the long run it simply weakens the feet and ankles.

 Exactly this. And it's not imagery. It totally depends on training correctly from the start and building the strength and skills. Of course the brain is active in awareness of what is trying to be achieved but it's not just in the head. My daughter's associate teacher was such a great example of how to stand correctly en pointe. Her foot strength was extraordinary, obviously from her career but also from demonstrating the exercises for 20 yrs!!

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 hours ago, Kate_N said:

zipped

Yes!!! Best teacher I ever had (when restarted ballet aged 40 after a 22 year gap & the oh so wonderful teacher aged almost 80!) who constantly said ‘zip up’ to engage the core!! Realising this is what I seriously need to work on again these days…. So I’m gonna remember to use the mantra of ‘zip up!’ 
Thanks for the reminder Kate_N!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
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...