At what age should my child begin Pointe Class?


At what age should my child begin Pointe Class?
The most widely accepted view amoung U.S. teachers is to wait until the child is 11, at which time the growth spaces in the feet have almost closed. Also, it is an age when most girls have reached a level of technique and physical strength allowing them to do pointe without injury to their knees or lower back.
However, there are teachers who take an opposing view. They say it depends on the individual child and that starting early helps shape the foot to work on pointe, as well as build strength.
Whatever the opinion, the children must have sufficient physical strength and technical foundation before starting pointe work. If they don’t, they will compensate by rising and lowering from pointe incorrectly – thus creating stress on knees and eventually lower back.
I am sure your daughter’s ballet teacher means to start her very slowly at the barre, for quite some time to come. Her teacher is really the only one that can guide her.


Age for Pointe
The proper age to start pointe work is controversial. Many experts believe that a ballet dancer can begin dancing on pointe if she is at least 9 or 10 years old. Some teachers don't attach a number at all, they simply rely on ability. However, because growth of the foot is about complete at age 11 or 12, many agree that pointe work could be introduced at this time. Never try dancing on pointe shoes if an instructor tells you to wait, as it's easy to become injured.


Dancers usually go en pointe only after several years of good training, in which their feet, ankles and legs are strengthened to handle the unique and difficult demands of pointe. A competent teacher will rarely allow a girl to dance en pointe before the age of 11. At this time, the pointe shoes come out for the last 10 to 15 minutes of class, and the dancer works up to wearing pointe shoes for the whole class over a period of several months. There are horror stories of girls whose feet were damaged from pointe technique, and some are true. However, most damage can be avoided by selecting a competent teacher who is more concerned with forming good dancers with good technique than with putting girls en pointe.


This is discussed in more detail in When To Start Pointework. Most students should not begin before age 10 or 12. Dancers must train for several years in soft slippers, rising only to half-toe (demi-pointe) before attempting to use pointe shoes. They must learn how to "pull up" out of the shoe, never allowing their full weight to sink into it, and always maintaining the correct alignment of spine, hips, knees and ankles. A dancer who attempts pointework before she has developed sufficient strength and technique and before bones have fully formed could cause herself serious injury and lifelong problems. Everyone develops differently; this is a decision to be made by parents, teachers and doctors.


L'età giusta per stare sulle punte
In generale, le bambine che hanno cominciato a studiare danzatra i 5 e i 10 anni possono iniziare a mettere le punte vero i 12 anni. Non è però sempre così.
Bisogna infatti attendere che l’ossatura e la muscolatura siano abbastanza solide per potere reggere senza danni il lavoro sulle punte. In qualche caso, dunque, bisognerà attendere. Meglio è nel frattempo lavorare per irrobustire le caviglie esviluppare il collo del piede. E’ importante comunque non iniziare senza l’apporto del proprio insegnante, il quale potrà giudicare se si è pronti allo studio con le punte e potrà insegnarvi la tecnica giusta e correggere i vostri difetti.


Per salvaguardare la salute dei piccoli danzatori nella nostra Accademia non si comincia lo studio della tecnica di punte prima dei 10 anni. Il corpo delle bambine deve essere muscolarmente pronto per affrontare un lavoro così difficile, duro e complicato e lo scheletro osseo deve essere abbastanza forte per sorreggere il peso del corpo su una superficie di pochi centimetri. Mettere le scarpette da punta all'età di 6-7-8 anni può provocare danni gravissimi alla salute fisica dei bambini.


A quel âge commencer les pointes ?
En général, les jeunes filles qui ont commencé la danse entre 5 et 10 ans peuvent commencer les pointes vers 12 ans. Mais ce n’est pas toujours le cas. Il faut attendre que l’ossature et la musculature soient assez solides pour pouvoir supporter sans dommages le travail sur pointes. Dans certains cas, il faudra attendre. Le mieux est d’en profiter pour se muscler les chevilles et travailler son cou-de-pied !
Toujours demander l’avis de son professeur avant de commencer, et ne JAMAIS s’entrainer seul chez soi. Votre professeur est là pour vous enseigner la technique et corriger vos défauts. Une personne inexpérimentée risque de se blesser et d’en garder des séquelles… à vie ! Enfin il n’y a pas vraiment d’âge limite pour commencer les pointes, même les débutants tardifs (ados, adultes) parviennent parfois à en faire après quelques années sur demi-pointes.


Age and Bone Structure
On average, most ballet schools put students en pointe between 10 and 13. But many teachers and doctors argue that the age at which a young girl’s feet can handle the stress of pointe depends upon her bone growth. This is because it takes many years for the cartilage in a child’s foot to turn to bone. Putting a girl on pointe prematurely puts her at risk for injury and extreme discomfort later in life since the cartilage in the foot is weak and malleable.
In Celia Sparger’s book, “Anatomy and the Ballet”, she presents X-rays of the foot at ages 4, 11, and 19. The pictures show that at the younger ages, there is space between the foot bones and the toes, where the bone has yet to form. By 19, the gaps are almost entirely gone. This is not to say that students must wait until 19 to begin pointe training. Still, generally speaking, it can be dangerous to allow a dancer to go up before she has had her growth spurt and hit puberty. The body is said to need time to adjust to the hormonal changes and the redistribution of weight before extra stress is put upon the feet. Though it varies from girl to girl, these adjustments in the body are not generally made before age 12.

Dimensions suitable for POINTE