One of the biggest and most exciting times as a young dancer is getting the opportunity to dance en pointe. I still vividly remember everything about the experience, from purchasing my very first pair of pointe shoes and sewing on the ribbons, right through to excitedly getting to wear them for the very first time. It’s a major step in any dancer's career but one you have to ensure you’re completely ready for. Dancing en pointe takes a great deal of strength in your feet and ankles, which is why there are a few things you need to have nailed first. If you think it might be time, here are 3 signs you’re ready to dance en pointe.
While there’s no perfect age to start pointe, as a general rule it’s advised to wait until you’re at least 11-12 years-old to ensure the muscles in your feet and calves are strong enough. There are a few benchmarks to achieve before you move up to pointe work including continuous calf rises & relevés in the centre on demi-pointe, the ability to hold turnout while dancing, no sickling on demi-pointe and maintaining the correct spinal alignment, but your teacher will regularly be monitoring and assessing you for these things. Having good flexibility and strength through the foot and ankle strength is crucial - if you want some extra tips there are plenty of foot strengthening & flexibility exercises available on the Claudia Dean App that will really help, including Caterpillars, PowerBall Push Downs and One Legged Calf Raises with the Powerband.
There are so many additional things to think about when you start dancing en pointe, so it’s important to remain as consistent as you can with your classes and dance schedule. Ideally before you start dancing en pointe you should be participating in a minimum of 3 ballet classes each week to ensure you’re consistently working on your body's overall strength, flexibility and technique.
Dancing en pointe is extremely enjoyable, however like anything else in life it can be challenging at times and it requires a certain level of commitment. Before you start dancing en pointe you must ensure you understand the extra responsibility you will have caring for your feet and body, which will take a little bit of extra time outside the studio. Whether that’s seeing the physio or podiatrist, setting aside some time at home to work on your foot and ankle strength or giving your feet a good soak (I love soaking my feet with warm epsom salts) be prepared to spend a little bit of extra time caring for your body and feet!
Remember there are a tonne of technique tips and exercises available on the Claudia Dean World App that are perfect to get you ready to dance en pointe! It’s one of the most exciting times in a dancer's journey so be present and enjoy every little moment.
Love CD xxxx