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Pointe shoes for Boys?


RhodaKuc
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We have a young boy ballet dancer at our studio who is determined to join his fellow (female) classmates in starting pointe work.

He satisfies all the usual criteria and has a very positive attitude to his dance.

I would appreciate any experience in fitters/shops where there may be good knowledge and helpfulness in fitting a male with pointe shoes.

 

Thank you in advance,

 

RK

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Ah what a kind an thoughtful teacher !

I will have to hide this post from my son who is also desperate to start point work with his classmates , but is mercifully mooving on in September ! I'm sure he will be persuading some of the girls to let him try their shoes !;)

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Also, I was thinking of using double cross-over elastics on these shoes, rather than (girly?) ribbons (I have sucessfully used these in a recent show as I needed a quick change from pink pointes to "red shoes"), any thoughts on this would be appreciated too - please.

 

Thanks again,

 

RK

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Freed now only sell the invisible elastic which works well with ribbons but perhaps wouldn't be supportive enough on its own? Capezio bunheads still sell the stronger elastic which is harder to get hold of now but I think it would be better criss-crossed than the invisible type. It looks like the elastic on split soles but is wider - I believe it's 3/4" wide. I last bought some in the Capezio shop.

 

Edited to add: I think it's this - http://www.planetdancedirect.co.uk/prod6.asp?ID=141&sub_cat=471&offset=&prod_id=9108&grpid=9108prod_anchor

 

The dancers in Ballet Cymru's Romeo & Juliet used it criss-crossed to hold their pointe shoes on as they weren't using ribbons.

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Hi Spanneradpony,

 

Yes, the stronger elastic is what I was thinking about - got some from my local haberdashery previously.

I assume we will go with black or white elastic, depending on the shoes selected and to match with tights/socks. 

I have seen professionals using elastics only and personally I found them very supportive.

I want to be careful, so thought it was worth getting thoughts from others who may have experience of starting boys off on pointe, in case I am missing something. 

 

Thanks,

 

RK

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I commend you for looking into this if he's keen, but I must admit I just turned to my (now professional) son to ask him about it and he looked at me slightly sideways. It's not something he's ever wanted to do

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I can't resist commenting !

I think (and hope ) its just a phase the boys go through , after all its an exciting thing for the girls who have been waiting to be ready for this new development , and the boy who is often the only one in the class , feels left out .

My DS considers that it also a way to look taller as he is short for his age !

Last term I found an old pair of pointe shoes hidden in his wardrobe - he said they were given to him to try out !

His teacher made the mistake of reminding him that "Bottom" in midsummer night dream does a dance in pointe shoes !

I have a feeling the novelty would soon wear off once he feels how painful it can be !

She also told him in front of me that some men use pointe work to strengthen their feet .....not sure what to make of that !?

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I've got a vague recollection of reading something many years ago that men sometimes did pointe work to help strengthen their feet and I am sure I have seen other ballets where men have danced (however briefly) en pointe.

 

And then there are The Trocks!

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I had a conversation about toes with a dancer from NB recently and she said she often wondered how the men coped in their flats as she thought that must be much harder for them than the protection and support provided by pointe shoes.

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Thanks for the replies, I do think it is purely curiosity rather than visions of performing en pointe,

perhaps it will help to empathise with classmates! I am sure that any benefit in strengthening the feet would be useful too.

There has been discussion of perhaps teaching in the future too, so experience from the female dancer's pointe of view would be an advantage.

We have so few boys doing ballet that it is lovely to encourage an interested student - who knows, we may get as far as a performance, only time will tell!

 

RK

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Personally I would not encourage him. If in later life a male dancer is asked to dance on pointe for a speciality role that's something else, but I place an emphasis on boys' learning their own virtuosity steps and excelling in pirouettes and strong jumps and beats and eventually partnering. Pointe work is essentially a very feminine thing - female ballet dancers were put on pointe to make them appear more ethereal and otherworldly and their pointe work has to appear effortless and light, however difficult the steps. The boys I teach do the girls' pointe class in soft shoes and that strengthens their feet beautifully. I change anything that's too feminine - such as courus - and insist on a strongly masculine carriage of the arms. When they are the only boy in a girls' class, I find this particularly important - they have a different role from the girls in classical ballet and I have to teach them to fill that role. There are less gender differences in modern dance (and anyway no pointework)but ballet is something else.

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I have known a number of men who took pointe class - these weren't boys - they were men who were at the professional level.

 

The reasons they gave:

 

Strengthening of the feet in the particular way which pointe work does.

 

They thought it would give them a new insight on teaching.

 

A new insight on partnering.

 

A new insight on choreograping.

 

Perhaps the difference is that these male dancers had already nailed down their own gender specific role in ballet.

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Hi everyone!

 

I have also heard that it can help increase boy’s/men’s flexibility and strength in the feet/ankles, and sensitivity in the feet and toes (boys do often struggle more than girls to develop this sensitivity), although I don’t think there has been any scientific study into the subject.  That said, I think the theory has good merit, and as long as he passes all the safety protocol and tests as the girls, I would imagine it could be beneficial.  I will add however that such action should not be necessary with correct training.  

 

From an interview read years ago I have vague recollections of hearing about boys taking pointe classes in order to better understand how their female counterparts have to change how they work to accommodate the shoes, with the ultimate objective being that they grow to be more understanding, empathic and therefore sensitive pas de deux partners. 

 

In my opinion, if he is eager to experiment, and he is in no danger from hurting himself, I say let him try it!  I don’t think it is wise to stifle anyone’s enthusiasm or desire for adventure without due cause, and it could be a valuable learning experience for him.

 

If he gets instantly put off by the discomfort and the hard work he will have learned a valuable lesson and will likely be compassionate with his future dance partners, and if he sticks with it he can go and join the Trocks! 

 

At this point however I will concede to agree with Dance*is*life that his primary focus ought to be learning and mastering male virtuoso steps, and if the decision is to permit him to experiment with pointe work, I would suggest it would remain only a small part of his dance experience and education.  

 

Best Wishes,

Angeline

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