The start of the year always is crazy for us in the clinic at Perfect Form Physio, as we have so many students trying to fit in their pre-pointe assessment before dance classes start back at the end of January. Unfortunately there are many who are disappointed, as they still have a lot of work to do before actually getting their pointe shoes! The Assessment process is really very valuable to see how ready each dancer is, and what things they need to work on to actually become fully prepared for pointe work.One of our biggest focuses is on improving the advice and education that we make available to dance teachers to help them prepare their students better, before the assessment. So I have collected together answers to some of the most common questions that we get.
1. When should I start preparing my students for pointe work?
We recommend that preparation for pointe work begins at least a year before you intend on taking the student to get fitted for their shoes. It is also a good idea to have a students first pre-pointe assessment a year before they are due to start en pointe, to see what areas need to be specifically targeted, so that the students can then spend that year correcting all of these essential elements before they get their shoes. This simple process can help prevent up to 90% of the common frustration, issues and injuries that commonly occur when students start en pointe such as:
- Not being able to get up onto their box
- Keeping knees relaxed en pointe
- Not being able to hold turnout en pointe
- Pain at the back of the ankle
- Falling off pointe
- Poor control of the spine and pelvis en pointe
- Not working through the shoe correctly
2. How do I know if my students are ready for pointe?
|The decision to go onto pointe is not a light one and many factors must be taken into consideration; including the student’s basic ballet technique, specific strength and mobility of the feet and ankles, turnout and core control, maturity and bony development. Students should be taking at least 3 ballet classes a week for at least a year before starting en pointe, so this is a great time to see the commitment of the students who are serious about it, and those that are not!Students should undergo a personalised assessment, either done by their dance teacher or a health professional who specialises in working with dancers. This process is also a great learning experience for students already en pointe to highlight any areas that need attention, or to improve aspects of their technique.|
For details on the assessment that we perform in clinic please Visit Our Website.
Additionally, we have created a course that teachers can use to do this assessment themselves called “The Perfect Pointe System” which is a distillation of the process that we go through in the clinic. This teaches dance teachers a simplified screening process to take the guess work out of knowing when a student is really ready.
3. What exercises can my students do to work towards being ready for pointe?
The most important exercises to work on will depend on the weaknesses highlighted in each student’s individual assessment, but usually include single leg calf rises, and exercises for improving the articulation of the front of the foot, to allow a smooth transition up onto, and lowering from pointe.
One of the biggest causes of injuries when students start en pointe is this lack of articulation through the forefoot, and this can be seen most when performing tendus without ballet slippers on. I discuss the mechanics of how the foot should work in a tendu in the following video: