Updated: Aug 28
Hell, yes! Here’s how …
Dancing en pointe is a dream for many adults, but many wonder if it’s a realistic dream after a certain age.
There are some who say it isn’t possible, but I can’t disagree with them more. There are some who say you have to undergo ballet training for years before you can even think about trying pointe work. But I disagree with that one too. Let me explain
The time required for children to take ballet lessons before getting their first pointe shoes is not just about how long they’ve done ballet. It’s largely about the development of their bones. Dancing en pointe before the bones have fully formed is dangerous, and to put a child under 12 years of age into pointe shoes can be quite dangerous.
Adults, however, already have fully formed bones. It is true that some adults may not ever be able to dance en pointe due to stiffness or mobility limitations in their bones. But that is not true for the vast majority.
An adult can dance en pointe when they have strengthened their abdominal, turnout, leg, foot and toe muscles, and when they have worked to achieve sufficient mobility in the ankle joint. I’m not going to lie. This takes time. You can’t just walk into a dance studio and whip on a pair of pointe shoes. But you can fast track your journey into pointe shoes with dedicated preparation.
Adults, of course, are heavier than children and teenagers. This means they require more strength to support their weight. But that is not a barrier, it’s simply a hurdle that may require more work to overcome
Does it hurt?
Another thing that is important to know before you embark on a quest to dance en pointe is that it hurts. You might get blisters, your toes might hurt. The arch of your foot might hurt. It varies between individuals. But, as one of our adult pointe students, Megan, put it “it’s a good hurt”. It’s similar to the burn you might feel when exercising or post exercising. We don’t advocate doing anything that is harmful to the body, but pain is not always an indication of harm. It’s part of building muscles and callouses to protect your body
So what do you have to do to get to the point (no pun intended) of dancing en pointe?
I can’t say how other dance studios or teachers help adults get to pointe work, but here at Dragonfly Dance, we have a clear pathway for adults wanting to do pointe work.
If you’ve never done ballet before, you will certainly need to take at least a year of beginner ballet classes. This is necessary to develop the posture, strength, and technique to dance safely en pointe. The standard exercises in ballet class such as battement tendu, retire, eleve (rises), and releve are a vital part of preparing for pointe.
The next step is to join a pre-pointe or demi pointe class. Both pre-pointe and demi-pointe classes will improve your ballet technique, whether you decide to ever wear pointe shoes or not.
Our pre-pointe classes include:
Theraband work (thick elastic bands that are used to strengthen muscles) to work on strength of feet, toes, turnout, and leg muscles
Exercises to strengthen abdominals and turnout muscles
Demi pointe work at the barre
Demi pointe work in the centre
Demi pointe shoes
We also encourage our pre-pointe dancers to do the class in demi pointe shoes. Getting your first pair of demi pointes can be exciting, because they look like pointe shoes. That are shiny and satiny and have ribbons.
Dancing in a pointe shoe is so different to wearing a canvas or leather ballet shoe. It is much harder to stretch the foot (both the arch and toes) and to balance in pointe shoes. Demi pointe shoes are like a transition shoe hat are not quite as difficult to dance in as pointe shoes, and the box (which encases and supports the toes) is not as hard, so you shouldn’t actually go up en pointe in them.
Readiness for pointe assessment
We also have a pointe assessment process, which includes a checklist to determine whether the dancer has sufficient strength, flexibility, endurance, and alignment to be able to dance safely en pointe.
Your first pointe shoes
Once the dancer has passed the assessment process, the next step is to get fitted for pointe shoes. We have recommend pointe shoe fitters who can help our dancers find the best shoe for their feet. The type of shoe that is best for a particular dancer will depend on things like their arches and instep, foot width and length, and toe lengths. A good pointe shoe fitter can also give you tips on any extras you may need. For example, dancers with a long big toe may need something like lambs wool inside the box of their shoe so stress on the big toe is relieved.
Progression en pointe
Once a dancer has their pointe shoes, we start with them working in pointe shoes at the barre in non-weight bearing exercises to help them further develop their strength and control. We also get them to do non pointe-work in the centre. It’s actually really hard to dance in pointe shoes, whether you ever go up en pointe or not. So practicing non-pointe work in the centre is vital.
Dancers then progress to simple weight bearing exercises at the barre with two feet, then to single leg work at the barre, and finally, into the centre.
Do ballet dancers have to dance en pointe?
While the dream of dancing en pointe might be fueled by the vision of ballerinas dancing onstage, dancing en pointe can also be a journey, or a discipline, that you practice because you enjoy the challenge. Some adults may decide not to dance in the centre en pointe, but that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy the challenge at the barre. The great thing about being an adult dancer is that you are in control of how far you go, and how seriously you take it. The effort you put in is entirely up to you.
Do you want to dance en pointe?
If you’re interested in dancing en pointe as an adult, join our waiting list so you can find out when we have our next intake. You can also head to our Youtube channel to find some of the exercises we include in our pre-pointe classes so you get started straight away working towards smashing your dream of dancing in pointe shoes.
Dragonfly Dance offers dance classes to adults of all ages in ballet, contemporary, jazz, and tap. We pride ourselves on offering you a place to indulge your love of dance, whether you’re a complete beginner, had a long break from dance, or danced all your life. Our classes have a broad mix of ages, and our philosophy is that you are never too old to dance, it is never too late to start, and you can dance forever!
If you have any questions, give us a call on 08 7073 2069 email@example.com