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Level 2 Pointe Intensive

For Dance Teachers and Health Professionals

This teacher training workshop is now available as an online virtual workshop with Lisa Howell.

For the latest dates and information on upcoming courses CLICK HERE or check out the individual listings at the bottom of this page.

Progressing onto pointe is one of the biggest rites of passage a young dancer faces, it is often a very exciting time. However, it is also very challenging. The excitement of that shiny new pair of shoes is often quickly soured with the onset of pain and blisters, but it does not have to be this way. Given a slow and careful preparation, along with a detailed assessment of the dancer before pointe work is introduced, it can be one of the most amazing times and opens up a whole new world of possibilities in dance.

Historically, pointe work can be tricky for some feet. While some may find it hard to fully rise over the block of the shoe, others may be dealing with excessive mobility within the major joints of the foot and find that they have very little control over their ankles. Since every dancer is different, the journey onto pointe is going to differ for every dancer. In addition, many dancers dance en pointe for years so getting it right at the very beginning is crucial to ensure a long lasting career that is injury free!

This course looks at how we can more effectively prepare young dancers and their parents for the process of preparing to go onto pointe. Adequate education well ahead of the final formal pointe screening will help avoid many broken hearts, as well as reducing the likelihood of injury.  

Assessing the individual dancer thoroughly before going on pointe is absolutely paramount to success en pointe and is slowly becoming more commonplace in dance schools around the world. Having a clear system that allows you to accurately identify areas of weakness, tightness and instability in a dancer allows us to give them specific exercises that will help optimise their function.

 

The assessment process explores simple screening tests that teachers and therapists can check before allowing their students to go onto pointe. This may be done as individual private assessments, or in a group setting over time. Effective and efficient mobilisation techniques are also introduced to help improve common areas of restriction, such as pointe range, plié range and turnout range and control.

Our Pointe Intensive is designed for both dance teachers and therapists who work with dancers!

During this intensive dance teacher and health professional training course you will learn how to conduct:

▪️ A Pre-Pointe Questionnaire
▪️ Postural assessment
▪️ Detailed screening of feet, hips & core
▪️ Assessment of the other factors that may affect Pointe work
▪️ How to screen students already on Pointe to enhance technique
 
We also explore:
▪️ How to curate your own pre-pointe preparation classes
▪️ Integration of the pre-pointe assessment into your studio
▪️ Detailed pointe shoe fitting techniques
▪️ Modification of pointe shoes for certain foot types
▪️ Customisation of ribbon placement and elastics
▪️ Preparatory exercises for the initial progression onto pointe
▪️ Discussion of many complexed questions round preparing for pointe
pointe Range Assessment lise howell intensive ballet blog

New Online Virtual Workshop Format

We all know that learning in person is so much more engaging than watching videos online, but unfortunately our popular in-person workshops are simply not possible in the current climate. The original Level 2 Pointe Intensive course has been divided into three 4 hour sessions to allow optimal understanding of all of the content via an online virtual workshop format.

To replicate the depth of learning and personal connection we feel at the in-person course, the content is delivered in a combination of live teaching, pre-recorded video content and personal exploration.  While you do not need to have a student model with your during the course, we highly advise planning to practice each days content on a model after the call finishes. After the workshop you will also be given unlimited access to the recording of the calls, giving the opportunity to go over any particular parts of the course in your own time.

Call #1

Introduction & Preparation For Pointe Work - The first part of the course looks at how we can more effectively prepare young dancers and their parents for the process of preparing to go onto pointe. Adequate education well ahead of the final formal pointe screening will help avoid many broken hearts, as well as reducing the likelihood of injury. 

Pre-Pointe Questionnaire - We go through a simple questionnaire that helps ascertain the current status of each dancer in relation to their training and injuries. This will help identify whether the student has the history and current training in order to be suitable for pointe work and to give a good snap-shot in time of their current timetable.

Pre Pointe Assessment - Assessing the individual dancer thoroughly before going on pointe is absolutely paramount to success en pointe. Having a clear system that allows you to accurately identify areas of weakness, tightness and instability in a dancer allows you to give them specific exercises that will help optimise their function. The assessment process explores simple screening tests that teachers can perform in the studio before allowing their students to go onto pointe. This may be done as individual private assessments or in a group setting over time.

Postural Control - Mastering control of basic standing posture is essential before moving on with any higher level strengthening. This is also a great time to screen young students for any sign of scoliosis.

Functional Assessment - The next part of the assessment looks at the basic functional control the dancer has in basic classical positions and movements. This includes detailed assessment of standing in first and fifth position, demi plié and grande plié, placement on rise, control en fondu and placement in a retiré.

Call #2

Foot Assessment - We discuss the assessment of the dancers' foot in detail, with special consideration of anatomical variances in foot type and foot shape, as well as how this affect the fitting of pointe shoes. We explore the different arches of the foot and the appropriate levels of dynamic control needed to progress onto pointe work. 

Hip Assessment - It is important to look at the anatomical structure of the hips, as well as the dancers dynamic control of turnout before adding the challenge of pointe shoes. Simple screening tests can highlight issues that may be missed in regular class work.

Core Stability Assessment - This is a perfect time to ensure that the dancer has dynamic and spontaneous core stability, as this is an area that is lacking in many young students. Ensuring optimal function before progressing onto pointe can help prevent many othe rhip, back and ankle injuries in dancer en pointe. 

Other Things to Consider - This section looks at elements beyond the physical assessment that must be considered when assessing a student for their preparedness for pointe work. This includes things such as age and development, level of hypermobility, body type and maturity.

Completing the Assessment & Exercise Prescription - Following the completion of the assessment, we discuss recommendations based on the assessment findings and how to prescribe appropriate home exercises for individual students or the class as a whole.

Call #3

Common Questions about starting en Pointe - There are so many urban myths around pointe work, and in this session we spend some time discussing several of these, along with the repeated common questions about starting en pointe, such as:

  • Can you go en pointe if you have flat feet?
  • Should students get an x-ray before starting en pointe?
  • Does pointe work cause bunions?
  • What are the best pointe shoes to use?
  • Should pointe work hurt?

Preparing & Fitting Pointe Shoes - We look at the ideal fitting of the pointe shoe, different options for different foot types, and ways of customising the shoe. Simple ideas can make a huge difference in getting a perfectly fitted shoe, whether you are with the student at the fitting or not.

How to Break in Pointe Shoes & Ribbon Placement - Many questions arise around the topic of ribbon type, ribbon placement and the best way to ‘break in’ a pair of new pointe shoes. All too often, students place their ribbons in the wrong place on their pointe shoes, tie them too tightly around their Achilles Tendon and break their shoes in a way that may cause it to fail faster than needed.

Preparatory Exercises - We look at some preparatory exercises for students who are new to pointe to get them accustomed to the shoe and the workings of it. We focus on ankle stability when standing in pointe shoes and effectively using the demi and  ¾ pointe, first in sitting and then at the barre. We stress to teachers the importance of working slowly through all of the preparatory stages and making sure that strength is built through slow concentric and eccentric training for optimal control. We then progress to some basic beginner pointe exercises that build the foundation for a safe progression onto pointe. These exercises are suitable for even the most advanced dancers and should be revisited regularly by all dancers en pointe.

The following videos are examples of content from the Level 1 course that should be reviewed before attending. 

 

Doming Exercises - The Good and the Bad

 

Why NOT to point into a Theraband

 

The Pros and Cons of Foot Stretchers

FAQ's

Do I have to be on Pointe to attend the course? You do not have to be en pointe to attend this online workshop! However, if you are currently en pointe, feel free to to have your pointe shoes handy. You do not need to have a student model with you during the course, however, if you have a student or colleague that you can practice the pre-pointe assessment and pointe exercises with after each session then this will be helpful.

Can I attend this course before completing the Level One Course?  Due to the new format of this workshop this Three Day Online Intensive can be taken as a stand alone course. However, we highly recommend you familiarise yourself  with Lisa's approach to Pointe Work by revisiting the Perfect Pointe Book, before attending the course.  If you wish to delve deeper we highly recommend  you attend  the Level 1 Teacher Training either in person or online, or sign up to the Online Teacher Training Portal.

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