Most young ballerinas dream of dancing en pointe for years before they tie their very first pair of pointe shoes. FDS ballet instructors insist on proper readiness before making the decision to allow a dancer to progress to pointe. Many factors are involved in pointe readiness, including the strength of the legs, feet, and ankles.
Pre-pointe classes are offered to ballet students who are not yet on pointe to further develop and strengthen the muscles necessary to go en pointe. They stress correct alignment and correct classical ballet technique. Pre-pointe classes also allow teachers to assess readiness, offering an atmosphere for proper evaluation of important skills. If you are thinking about beginning a pre-pointe ballet class, here's what it will be like.
Pre-Pointe Class Basics
A typical pre-pointe class usually consists of girls from 9-10 years old and tends to last about 45 minutes. The girls chosen to attend the class are expected to be placed en pointe sometime during the following year. Several strengthening exercises are performed at the barre including relevés and echappés. The teacher has the opportunity to watch for technical problems that can be corrected before dancers are placed in pointe shoes.
Before a dancer is placed in pointe shoes, ballet instructors use certain exercises to evaluate pointe readiness. The following exercises might be part of the evaluation:
Core strength: Dancers are asked to plié and grand plié in the center. Teachers watch for strength through the abdominal, ankles, and feet, and make sure ribs are over the hips.
Rotation: Dancers may be led through a slow tendu combination. Teachers will watch to see if dancers can sustain turnout from the hips without compensating.
Alignment: Teachers may check the ability of dancers to maintain proper placement by leading relevé exercises in the first position.
Balance: Dancers might be asked to sous-sous and degagé the back leg side, so it closes in front. They might be asked to continue walking forward on demi-pointe, crossing from fifth to fifth. Teachers evaluate strength and placement through the core and legs.
Preparing for Pre-Pointe Class
You will be asked to wear soft ballet slippers during a pre-pointe class. Regular ballet attire will be requested, as well as neat and tidy hair.
After a few weeks, be prepared for your instructor to begin evaluations during class. Certain milestones and checkpoints must be met in order to be promoted to an actual pointe class.