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Best age for first pair of pointe shoes


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I know in some countries girls are put en pointe at a younger age, but personally I'm glad that we are fairly cautious in the UK. My dd was a month off 12 when she got her first pair of pointe shoes at the instruction of her Associate teacher. But for several months the exercises were very basic and just for a few minutes at the end of ballet class.

 

If you search "Readiness for pointe" on google, many articles come up - here's one: http://www.iadms.org/displaycommon.cfm?an=1&subarticlenbr=185

 

Edited to add that I found this thread on the subject - with - as ever - a wonderfully informative post by Anjuli Bai: http://www.balletcoforum.com/index.php?/topic/1501-what-is-the-best-age-to-start-pointe-work/

 

:-)

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I am currently writing my dissertation on this topic! In short - traditionally people go for age 12 as a general guide but recent research urges teachers to base it on the strength, control, co-ordination and stability of each individual child. The article that spannerandpony linked to is very good but at the end of the day remember that no harm can come from aiming for later rather than sooner.

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A girl i know went en point when she was 9. Her feat were so small she had to get her point shoes speically made in london. Shes now 11 but her feet are already very messed. She working on her intermediate and  advanced foundation now and she hoping to audition for the bolshi ballet school.( One of the girls accepted went to her dance school and spotted her as talent) I think it was wrong for her to go on so young she going to have awful arthritious whens she older but she loves what shes doing. She live in the UK btw.

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Hmmmm I wonder which school you are referring to. Three of the four British girls training at the Bolshoi all came from vocational schools. I personaly think it is irresposible for any teacher to allow a child to go onto pointe until at the earliest age 11, nothing can be gained from it but a lot can be lost through it. The Bolshoi school will not be impressed that this young girl has been on pointe from the age of 9 but they will be interested in her potential, musicality, physicality and movement, same as all the other classical ballet schools. They will not want a student coming to them with injuries.

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Years ago, and it was about 12 years ago when Martin did English Youth Ballet a girl bounced in very proud of herself. She was a big fish in the area, at festivals etc and I guess about 10. She announced that of course she was en pointe at which Janet Lewis firmly told her that she would not be anywhere near pointe shoes at EYB. She did get the lead but Ms Lewis gave us all a talk about the dangers of early point.

 

Most of theteachers I've know have been insistent on it depending on the strength and physique of the dancer/foot etc.

 

Of course I've very little experience of pointe work but Martin did do it. All the girls in his class were so he decided he would too. Now buying size 9 pointe shoes is not easy.lol

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The IADMS article is excellent. Megan Richardson from The Harkness Center for Dance Injuries in NYC has also done a fair amount of work in the area, as has Lisa Howell. There are also old threads on here about beginning pointe :-)

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Years ago, and it was about 12 years ago when Martin did English Youth Ballet a girl bounced in very proud of herself. She was a big fish in the area, at festivals etc and I guess about 10. She announced that of course she was en pointe at which Janet Lewis firmly told her that she would not be anywhere near pointe shoes at EYB. She did get the lead but Ms Lewis gave us all a talk about the dangers of early point.

 

Most of theteachers I've know have been insistent on it depending on the strength and physique of the dancer/foot etc.

 

Of course I've very little experience of pointe work but Martin did do it. All the girls in his class were so he decided he would too. Now buying size 9 pointe shoes is not easy.lol

Miss Lewis must have had a change of opinion because 7 years ago my DD then age 9, was asked to dance Lady Songbird and White Cat on pointe even though she had only been en pointe for a few months. I add that her dance teacher was very strict about what age children went on pointe but my DD has exceptionally strong feet etc and still does. No ill effects to report but maybe she's just lucky. LTD

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A girl from dd's dance school danced en pointe with EYB last year. She was 10.5 when she started and had only been doing it about 3 months at the time of EYB. Miss Lewis knew how old she was as her mum specifically spoke to her about whether she'd be ok to do it, but she was very good. It's not the norm at our school though, generally it's not before 11 and usually more like 12-13. She was still only 10 when she took her intermediate foundation and she's now at ballet school on an MDS. Some girls will be safer at 10 than others will be at 15 so I don't think you can have a hard and fast rule. The stronger they are the more protected the bones will be. As long as you have a good teacher I think you have to trust their judgement - I wouldn't be letting my 9 year old do it tho lol!

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I think all parents/dancers should listen to the advice of their dance teacher when it comes to pointe shoes. My own dance teacher firmly believes her grossly bunion infested and misshapen feet are a direct result of being on pointe too early. I think there is no 'correct' age, it is usually down to the individual. Ankle strength, arch of the foot, core strength etc. I personally think that pointe shoes before your feet have stopped growing is not ideal. I appreciate that some girls who have reached advance levels at a young age may be required to learn pointe work as part of a syllabus earlier than others, but I don't feel it necessary for any child of 9 to be pushed through higher levels requiring them to be en pointe anyway! That's obviously my personal opinion, but I just don't see it of being of any benefit to them. At the other end of the scale you will get girls who are only ever embarking on ballet as a hobby and may never have the required strength to meet the demands of pointe work. There's definitely no set rule for this one!

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aurora, was that swan lake Newcastle by any chance.  my eldest had only been en pointe a few months and she was also chosen to dance with eyb in Newcastle just  en pointe.  she was 11 at the time but days away from 12.  did  her confidence the world of good and i believe miss lewis would not have chosen her if not strong enough.  my youngest has just started inter foundation and she is excited to be like her big sister but she's only 10 and so not ready.

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aurora, was that swan lake Newcastle by any chance. my eldest had only been en pointe a few months and she was also chosen to dance with eyb in Newcastle just en pointe. she was 11 at the time but days away from 12. did her confidence the world of good and i believe miss lewis would not have chosen her if not strong enough. my youngest has just started inter foundation and she is excited to be like her big sister but she's only 10 and so not ready.

Yes it was Newcastle!

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When I took my then 7 year old to a JA for a day at RBD Covent garden a little girl put her hand up at the question and answer session and asked if JA's did pointe. She was told 'no they don't' she proudly announced that she did. Since she wasn't a current JA and was going to audition she couldn't have been any older than 9 and certainly didn't look the standard to be doing point work. There was an audible intake of breathe when she said this but the lady handled her questions very tactfully!!

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I agree with the other comments, that it isn't really dependent on age, but is all to do with physical maturity and strength, and naturally everyone is different when it comes to readiness for pointe.

 

My dd was 11 when she started, but her feet had already stopped growing, and for quite a few months she didn't do more than a few exercises at the barre for about 10 minutes a week, at the end of the Inter-foundation class. I was very wary, and kept a really close eye on her feet, and her teacher took great care in class too.

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The family of one of my daughters was with us at the weekend, before we all went to see BRB's Aladdin yesterday.  My younger grand-daughter has just started on pointe - she'll be 13 this summer - and she brought her new shoes for a little demonstration to my very experienced wife.  Thankfully, she appears to be being broken in very gradually at her school and looked quite confident and comfortable as she got a few tips on tightening up her bourées.  Just an observation from a proud Grandpa!

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The family of one of my daughters was with us at the weekend, before we all went to see BRB's Aladdin yesterday.  My younger grand-daughter has just started on pointe - she'll be 13 this summer - and she brought her new shoes for a little demonstration to my very experienced wife.  Thankfully, she appears to be being broken in very gradually at her school and looked quite confident and comfortable as she got a few tips on tightening up her bourées.  Just an observation from a proud Grandpa!

Gosh Ian. Do you know when you try and put some sort of identity to people on this forum? EG what they might look like,what age they are,etc?[Or is that just me? !!] I always had you down for being in your early thirties for some reason.!!

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Gosh Ian. Do you know when you try and put some sort of identity to people on this forum? EG what they might look like,what age they are,etc?[Or is that just me? !!] I always had you down for being in your early thirties for some reason.!!

  Ian types young. :)

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Gosh Ian. Do you know when you try and put some sort of identity to people on this forum? EG what they might look like,what age they are,etc?[Or is that just me? !!] I always had you down for being in your early thirties for some reason.!!

I though Ian was early 40s. :-) Glad I'm not alone into assigning an identity to fellow posters (although thankfully I know a fair few of you!)

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Hello everyone - this is my first post - just discovered this forum and look forward to logging on when I can. I started pointe at the barre when I was 9 and a half, but when I moved to a different school, they promptly took me off pointe for a year and only allowed me back on at 11. I'm an RAD teacher and have been so for many years and at the school I teach we only start pointe at around 11/12 years of age - in time for Intermediate Foundation. I don't really see much point in starting earlier than that. The students are stronger physically, more advanced technically and the bones in their feet have pretty much ossified (ie hardened) by that age. Those who start later and those who start earlier seem to be at the same level by age 16 anyway.

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Welcome to the forum Dance is Life.

 

As you can see from my post (#9) in a previous thread (referenced above by SpannerandPony and in which she included a link) - I very much agree with you.

 

Though strength, technique, growth rate, etc., are different for each individual - the maturation of the skeleton is fairly consistent. In children the cartilege has not as yet hardened and in fact the human foot doesn't fully do so until into the 20's.; But, by the age of 12 it is usually sufficient to undertake pointe work - all other elements being in place.

 

Those who work in the field of identifying the age of ancient skeletons do so in several ways - one of them being how far along the bones have ossified and the spaces in the joints have knit up which shows how consistent this is through time and across cultures.

 

We can work on technique, strength, etc - but we can't - and shouldn't - argue with the skeleton.

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Having been at dance medicine and science conferences where this has been discussed, I was surprised to hear that many dance orthopaedic surgeons / consultants / doctors actually discount the discussion of the skeleton in pointe readiness. I wish I could remember who it wa that brought it up, but they all agreed that as ossification happens at different rates in different people it was impossible to give an age as to when its reached a certain stage. What will be one stage at age 9 in one student will be the same stage at age 12 in another. It's similar to the age that a girl starts their periods - one girl may start at 10, another at 15. These professionals also agree that it is not this topic (re hardening of the skeleton) that causes any injury due to beginning pointe. They cite weakness in the soft tissues as much more likely to cause injury from being on pointe too young.

 

I hope I'm not seen as being provocative or argumentative by posting this, as that is not my intention. I had always believed that the main reason age was given as a factor in pointe readiness was to do with bone, so to hear these dance medicine experts (which they truly are) say that shocked me quite a lot! But it does make sense, especially when you consider, as Anjlui said, bones don't fully ossify until adulthood.

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I've talked about this to a Physio friend of mine in the past, she treats a lot of professional and pre-professional dancers and she offers pre-pointe screening as a service too. I asked whether they do X-rays etc and she said they don't because the results wouldn't really mean anything anyway. The assessment is about looking as posture, strength, foot flexibility, balance, years of training, number of classes and various other things too. She didn't state a minimum age per se but I understood that a strong 10 year wouldn't be ruled out purely because of her age. She did say they could do X-rays if someone really wanted to but she wasn't keen on the idea because at what point do you say the bones are sufficiently mature when you don't think it bears much (if any) relevance anyway!

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