Ready for Pointe Shoes?

“When to get pointe shoes”

Almost every little girl experiences the dream of one day being a ballerina. Seeing the beautiful, graceful dancers wearing their glamorous tutus and twirling and leaping on their toes is something that brings excitement to their minds and joy to their hearts. Every parents wishes to fulfill the dreams of their child; however, when is it considered safe to allow young dancers the privilege wearing pointe shoes? This topic is something that causes controversy amongst many dance teachers, for some do not feel that the amount of safety precautions recommended is necessary. However, through experience and training, I can assure you that the precautions listed below are essential if you wish for your child to have a safe experience while learning the art of pointe.

1.) Receiving structured ballet training.

Before a dancer can be given her pointe shoes, it is important that her body, specifically her ankles and feet, is capable of safely supporting her frame on her toes. In order to achieve this strength and stability, a young dancer must go through the strict training of a highly structure ballet program. In most cases, the Cecchetti and Russian Vaganova formats are used. These programs include levels and grades that require the student to be professionally evaluated to pass from one level to the next.

In the Cecchetti format, a council is elected to oversee the generally training of all of its students. The entire program includes eight grades, the first four designed for beginners and the second four for professional students. In order to be an instructor, a teacher must seek specific training for each grade, and then be evaluated on their skills to perform the grade, teach the grade, and their understanding of how each step conditions the body and improve the dancer’s technique. Once a teacher has passed, they will be given the privilege of teaching the grade to willing students. Once they feel their dancers have memorized the grade’s steps and learned to perform them correctly, they will be presented in front of a Cecchetti council board member and evaluated on an individual basis. If the student passes the exam, they will be permitted to train in the next grade level, but if they do not pass, the student will be prohibited from re-taking the exam for the next 18 months.

This structured training is very important for young dancers. Not only are their bodies learning the correct ways to control their movements and prevent injuries, but they are also learning that the art of dance is a discipline, something that you must work for in order to reach your goal. If your child is interested in obtaining pointe shoes, make sure that they are receiving training under one of these formats. Professional teachers involved in these programs know when a child is or is not ready to safely take on the art of pointe. They will do everything they can to ensure that your child is receiving the correct training and that their safety is put first.

2.) See a foot doctor.

Another necessary precaution for obtaining pointe shoes is receiving your doctor’s permission to train in them. Because an x-ray of your child’s feet will be needed, it is often recommended that you visit a foot doctor for this evaluation.

When you arrive, the doctor will take an x-ray image of your child’s feet and examine their bone development. If your child’s growth plates are open, the doctor will recommend that your child does not receive her pointe shoes at this time. This means that the dancers foot is still growing. If a child trains in a pair of pointe shoes before her growth plates are closed, it could cause irreplaceable damage to her feet. Again, safety is the most important thing when obtaining a pair of pointe shoes so we do not want to risk this sort of injury. Because the dancer will be her feet so often, it is very important that her feet are fully and naturally developed before she begins to train on them.

Once your doctor does give the okay, you and your dancer are ready to buy her first pair of pointe shoes.

3.) Obtaining the correct pair of pointe shoes.

When going to get your child’s pointe shoes, make sure that the dance store you are purchasing from has a staff member qualified to fit pointe shoes. Every child’s foot has a different shape, so they will need a different style shoe. Because there are hundreds of different brands and styles of pointe shoes, it is very important that you have someone guiding you and your daughter in the right direction. A good pointe shoe fitting should at least take an hour. The staff member helping you should have your daughter trying on multiple pairs of pointe shoes and asking how each one fits and feel when your child is flat footed and on pointe (her toes). This employee should also give you, the parent, a detailed lesson involving the correct ways to attach elastic and ribbon to the pointe shoes. This information is very important, for it can help ensure that your child will not injure herself while wearing the shoes.

After this process is finished and the correct pointe shoes have been obtained, have your dancer try on her pointe shoes for her instructor. Because the instructor knows the dancer and her abilities better than the store employee, he or she will be able to ensure that you have obtained the right shoes for your dancer. Once the approval has been received, you can attach the elastic and ribbons and send your litter dancer off to pointe class.

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~ by camccain on December 12, 2010.

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