HOW DO I KNOW WHEN MY DAUGHTER OR STUDENT IS READY TO PROGRESS ONTO POINTE?
This is an important question posed by many parents and teachers. Though the answer is not black and white, it is essential to be well-informed before making a decision. Here's why...
Most ballerinas have dreamed of being on pointe since youth. The vision of pointe shoes and ourselves spinning in them has enraptured us. But for any of us, it can be dangerous to be put on pointe too soon. Here's why: it can handicap and even shorten your career.
The strength of your feet, ankles, and calfs will help determine when you should go onto pointe. Most dancers under age 16 have bones that have not fully hardened. This means growth plates are not fully closed, and doing pointe could cause growth plate fractures which turn into deformities. This is why strong feet and ankles are key when progressing onto pointe especially under age 16. Here are a few steps you can take to determine if you or your dancer are ready to progress onto pointe:
1. GET SCREENED BY A DANCE PHYSIOTHERAPIST - this will help you get a professional, medical opinion in regards to the dancer's overall readiness: her feet, ankles, hips, alignment, core, etc. If the dancer is not ready, working with a specialized dance physiotherapist could be essential to getting her ready in a way that will prevent injury and set her up for success once she does begin.
2. GET ASSESSED BY AN INSTRUCTOR - it is important to be screened by an instructor who feels confident in their ability to assess the student thoroughly. Teachers should examine students carefully when gaging their eligibility for pointe. This includes testing their:
- Basic Ballet Technique,
- Foot and Ankle Strength
- Pointe Range
- Plie Range
- Anatomical Structure of the Foot
- Turnout range and Control
- Core Control
- Maturity and Physical Development
3. FOR PARENTS - This is a great resource from a well known Australian dance therapist: The Perfect Pointe Parent's Manual. Hopefully this aids you in making an informed decision as well as knowing how to support your dancer through this exciting process.
4. FOR STUDENTS - This is a great tool for either progressing onto pointe or for beginner pointe students to focus on pre-pointe work that is safe and smart. Useful for both students as well as instructors: The Perfect Pointe Book.
In short, there is no way of knowing if you can progress onto pointe or not without examination by an expert. Though age does play a role in this decision, more important is the dancer's overall strength, range, and control. A 12 year old could be ready for pointe, while another dancer may not be ready until age 16. The Perfect Pointe Book has some key tests that can give you an idea of where you are at in terms of strength and mobility.
We hope you found this article to be helpful! If you have any questions, feel free to reply. Have a wonderful weekend.