Pointe shoes allow ballet dancers to have an straight, long leg line and create a weightless, ethereal look when dancing onstage. Female ballerinas don pink satin pointe shoes to perform graceful characters such as fairies, swans and nymphs. However, dancers must undergo years of physically demanding training before tying on the first pair of pointe shoes. Even after reaching an advanced level of ballet training, the transition from soft ballet slippers to pointe shoes poses an immense challenge. Improve your balance on pointe through cross-training and remaining mindful and aware of your body alignment.
- Skill level:
Strengthen your abdominal muscles. Strong, fluid pointe work comes from having a strong, balanced centre. Though the focus of dancing on pointe is on the feet and legs, the whole body must work in harmony in order to balance and turn when on pointe. Pilates, yoga, underwater barre, floor barre and weightlifting can help your core become strong and support your moves better. Learning how to move from your centre will greatly improve your balance when dancing with the added challenge of pointe shoes.
Pay attention to your use of plie as you rise from a flat foot to a balanced releve position. When executing a releve on one leg, remember that you have a longer distance to rise than when on demi-pointe in soft slippers or bare feet. This means that you will require a stronger, more dynamic plie in order to rise to a releve on full pointe.
Don't neglect the upper body. Your whole body should be engaged when dancing and balancing on pointe. The upper body should maintain the classical, regal look of the ballet aesthetic. However, you should avoid tensing the muscles in the upper body. The shoulders, neck and jaw should be released and relaxed. You should be working from the core down, with an easy, effortless feel in the upper body.
Tips and warnings
- Finding the right fit of shoes is of the utmost importance. Try different brands and experiment with different ways to break in your shoes. To be correctly balanced on pointe, the flat end of the tip of the shoe should be in full contact with the ground. Be sure your shoes are not so stiff that they don't move with your foot as you execute a releve.
- Continue to practice and take class in soft slippers. Improving the alignment, strength and flexibility of the feet while wearing soft ballet slippers will help your technique when on pointe.
- Do not attempt pointe work without the approval of a qualified, experienced ballet teacher. The minimum of training that you should have before starting pointe is two years of serious study (at least three classes per week), though some teachers require up to four years. Never experiment with pointe shoes on your own. Do not try new moves on pointe at home or without the supervision of your teacher.
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