Am I Ready for Pointe Work? – Checklist

140 Responses

  1. Avatar Mila says:

    Hi,
    I have been doing ballet from the age of one, baby ballet till five and then I moved to more serious ballet. I’m now 11, and nearly twelve and I REALLY want to go en pointe. At the moment I am in intermediate foundation and doing 2 hours of ballet a week, do you think that is enough to be able to go en pointe any time soon? I have pretty strong ankles and I am doing lots of conditioning at home because I have a ballet barre in my room. My turnout is very good and I don’t sickle. Though you aren’t my teacher, please could you give me a guess about when I might be able to go en pointe as well as some tips.

    Thanks,
    Mila

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      If you have good turnout, then that is a very good sign. Twelve years old is a good age to begin pointe work but it will all depend on what your teacher says. Be sure to do lots and lots and lots of relevés!

  2. Avatar cece says:

    hi, my name is cece and I have been doing ballet for nearly 3 years now I did ballet when I was younger then quit.when I strted back I started in level 1A when I was 10 then skipped level 1b and went straight to level 2A which I was proud about because most people start in 1A then go to 1B then 2A then 2B and so on and when they get to 3B they go on pointe if they want to and if they have taken pre pointe classes. I thought that when I went to 2A that meant that I might be able to go straight to 3A then after a year of 3A i could go to 3B but that hasn’t been the case. I have very strong toes and ankles, I have pretty flexible feet and my turnout isn’t perfect but it is pretty flat. I am not sure how long I have been doing pre pointe but I have been doing it for a while now and most of the time i dont even use the barre and do the exercises in the center. I take four classes a week and I am willing to take as many extra classes as I need to. Do you have any advise on what I can do to get onto pointe? I am already strong enough, should I ask my teacher what I need to do and work on to get to pointe?

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      Yes, definitely ask your teacher. You are putting in enough classes but it sounds like there are one or two problems that need to be fixed before you can move up. You can’t fix them if you don’t know what they are, so asking the teacher is the best idea. If you can ask to have a private lesson, that would be ideal.

  3. Avatar Summer Balins says:

    Hi, my name is Summer and I’m 15 years of age and I am just writing to ask you whether you think I would be ready for pointe I have only done ballet for 1 year and the class I did was an 1hour 15 mins once a week and just recently my dance teacher told me that I have a great arch and just the right feet structure to be able to go on pointe, so I am getting my hopes up but I just wanted to ask you whether you would think I am ready she hasn’t even told me yet and also I am currently in a contemporary class this year just to also let you know. Do you think I could go on pointe?

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      It’s great news that your feet are ideal for pointe, that gives you an advantage! However, it’s not just the structure that’s important, it’s the strength. With just two classes of dance a week, I don’t think your feet would be strong enough yet. Maybe ask your teacher for some exercises to strengthen your feet at home.

  4. Avatar Unknown says:

    Hey I️m 13 years old
    I’ve been in this pre pointe class for 2 weeks and I️ took ballet class when I️ was 3 and then I️ stopped and after 2 weeks my teacher has decided that I️m ready for my pointe shoes I️ go in 1 week I️m kinda wondering if it’s an alright decision but she says I️ have amazing feet and arches and core strength but I️ just needed advice

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      It’s perfectly possible to go straight to pointe class. Ordinary ballet classes are enough to prepare a dancer for pointe. Pre-pointe classes are useful because they let the teacher zoom in on the weaknesses and faults that might put a student at risk of injury or hamper her technique. It sounds like the teacher has assessed you carefully and decided there’s nothing major that needs fixing, so you can progress straight to the next level. Trust her judgment.

  5. Avatar Kate says:

    Hi, my name is Kate and I am 12 years old. I have been dancing for 5 years, and am in the pre-pointe class this year. I do two classes a week, each 1 hour. My ankles are strong, I have a great turnout, and great posture. The only thing is, I don’t my pointe is quite where it needs to be. Last year’s had appendicitis and was out of dance for half the year. I am pretty sure both me and my best friend were going to be moved up to pointe, except we were both sick. She had mono, and I had appendicitis. I have a good pointe, and I only need to get a little bit further, but my ankles are super, super, super tense. Can you give me some exercises to make my ankles more flexible? Another thing is, I don’t want to be in a different class then my best friend, except I really,really want to get on pointe. If I get on pointe and she doesn’t, or if she gets on pointe and I don’t, we won’t be in the same class anymore. We don’t even go to the the same school, and I’m afraid that I might not be able to keep in touch we her as much as I want to. Any advice?

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      It’s so disappointing to get sick when you were doing so well, but you have a good basis, so you’ll be fine. However I’m not sure what you mean by “tense ankles”. Tap dancers need flexible ankles – ballet dancers don’t!

      I’m guessing, but is the problem that you’re not getting a good pointe, and you think it’s your ankles that are stopping you? It probably isn’t. It may be that you’re using the wrong muscles to point, or it may be that your foot (not your ankle) isn’t flexible enough. This article is about someone who had a similar problem, and the exercises in the comments might help you:
      https://www.reddit.com/r/BALLET/comments/38pw11/ankle_joint_flexibilityachilles_help_long/

  6. Avatar Mia says:

    Hi I’m Mia I’m 11 years old almost 12 and I really want to go en pointe I’ve been doing ballet since age 4 and I go 2 hours a week now and I am also taking pre pointe classes do you think I’m ready for pointe I have checked all the checklist any tips thank you much

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      You may still be a year away from going on pointe, Mia, but keep working and you will be fine.

  7. Avatar Dancer says:

    I am recovering from an elbow injury and I have two months before my dance schools pointe test. I’m eleven and dance at a serious studio 10 hours per week for 5 years. Do you think I will be able to go on pointe?

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      Hi Elle – of course, it’s up to your teacher. However, it’s your elbow that’s injured, not your legs or feet, so you should be able to keep working on your leg strength. Have you asked your teacher about attending class and just dancing without using your arms? If you can’t do that, then do lots and lots of releves at home.

      • Avatar Dancer says:

        I am attending class because my arm is smoothly recovering. Thank you

        • Avatar Dancer says:

          Even while I was still injured, I attended classes to observe and, found myself doing everything without my arms

          • Avatar Marisa says:

            In that case, I don’t see why your injury will stop you getting en pointe. Good luck!

  8. Avatar Charlie says:

    Hi Marisa,
    I’ve been doing ballet since I was two, I know we only get to the real stuff at about 8. I’m 12 and in Grade 5 ballet CSTDs and do an hour of class each week. Next year I will be in pre foundation and be doing 2 classes of 1 hour each so 2 hours a week. I don’t curl my toes when I point them, I have a medium arch, not the strongest ankles but strong. I was wondering if I could have some tips on holding my releves for longer without over balancing? Also my teacher normally introduces pointe in pre elementary with only bar work en pointe if you are ready. How do you think I should approach her and ask her if she thinks I will be ready for pointe next year? Thank you!

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      Charlie, when you’re on releve, you might be thinking about your feet too much. Balance in your releve comes from your core, and your turnout muscles in your legs. Before I start to releve, I make my turnout strong by pulling UP and OUT with my thighs. When I start the releve, I pretend I’m lifting myself off the ground with my abdominal muscles and my thigh muscles – I’m not pushing off the ground, it’s just that my heels can’t help coming off the floor because my core and thighs are lifting me.

      The best approach, as I said to Cat, is to say something like, “I would really like to get en pointe next year. What do I need to do to achieve that, can you give me some exercises to do at home?” If your mother is willing to pay for it, you could book an hour’s private lesson so your teacher can give you some personal attention and fix any problems you may have.

  9. Avatar Cat says:

    Hi @Marisa,
    I’ve been doing ballet for quite awhile and I’m 12. I’m 85 pounds, and I usually do 3-4 classes per week. I don’t want to ask my teacher, but if I can go pretty high on demi-pointe and I am in Level 4. 5 is pointe. What are tips to get en pointe faster or persuade my teacher? My best is en pointe and she’s around the same age and weight. I really want to, but what can I do in class to help? Thanks.

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      The first tip is to be brave and talk to your teacher. Be careful, don’t sound like you’re complaining – just say that you’re really, really keen to get en pointe and can she give you some advice on how to achieve your goal. She will be able to give you much better advice than me because she knows why she’s holding you back.

  10. Avatar Freya says:

    Hi,
    I’m 13 and I started ballet at the start of this year. I’m not super strong but I am quite flexible. I do two 1h 15m classes each week. How long do you think it might be until I can go en pointe? And are there and good exercises I can do to improve ankle and arch strength?

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      Strength is very, very important for pointe work, and it’s much more about leg strength (to hold your turnout and lift out of the shoe) than arch strength. The shoes support your arch. Lots and lots and lots of releves, done slowly and properly, will help.

  11. Avatar Sophie says:

    Hey I’m 15 and have been doing ballet for 5 hears now. I am 10.12 stone but have been reccomended to go on pointe. Do you think this weight is appropriate for pointe work, or do you have any tips for loosing some weight safely?

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      If you are carrying extra weight, then it’s going to put more pressure on your feet. If your teacher has approved you to go on pointe then I wouldn’t worry about it, but losing some weight would be a good idea, unless you are exceptionally tall. If you are doing several classes then do be careful cutting back on food – the best approach is to cut out all sugary and sweet foods and drinks, especially sports drinks, sodas and sweets.

  12. Avatar Helaina says:

    Hi I’m 11 years old I have been doing serious ballet classes since I was five I have done ballet for about 9 1/2 years now. My point assessment is coming up and I’m scared cause I really want to go on point and I’m not sure if I’ll pass the assessment. Are there any excercises I could do to help me get on point . BTW I don’t mind lots of pain but i don’t have a good arch my ankles are strong but I need to strengthen them more including my legs and I also have to be able to articulate my feet. Are there any excercises I can do for my feet to help them prepare for my assessment for pointe shoes?

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      Hi Helaina

      I’m afraid you may think you’ve been doing serious ballet since you were five, but I really hope you were not. If you were, then you have done your body a lot of damage. No one should be doing serious ballet before the age of eight or nine.

      At eleven years old, you are still young to be going on pointe so it may be that you still have some developing to do. The main thing is to do releves, very carefully and exactly – hundreds of them!

  13. Avatar paz says:

    Hi marissa!
    ive been dancing scince i was 2 and im 12, but im still not en pointe, any tips or gueses why im still not en pinte?
    Thanks!

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      Even though you’ve been dancing since you were two, that doesn’t mean you are ready for pointe. When you were little, you weren’t doing serious training, so those years don’t count. If you are dancing with other girls who started ballet at 8 years old or 10 years old, they are really the same as you physically. What you learned when you were little was stuff like musicality and the ability to learn choreography.

      The best idea is to go and ask your teacher. Don’t say “why am I not on pointe?”. Say, “I really want to get en pointe, can you tell me what I need to do?”

  14. Avatar Chloe says:

    Hi I’m Chloe and I’m almost 13. I’ve been doing ballet since I was 3 or 4 and haven’t broken anything but I still don’t have my pointe shoes. Do you have any advice for me?

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      Chloe, the ballet training you do before the age of 8 or 9 really doesn’t count. How many classes do you attend each week?

      • Avatar Chloe says:

        I attend 3 classes. Each are 45 minutes.

        • Avatar Marisa says:

          OK, in that case there are two things you should do. The first thing is to talk to your teacher. Don’t say, “why can’t I go on pointe now?” Say, “Can you tell me what I need to work on, to get ready for pointe?” If you can’t talk to your teacher, then ask your mother to talk to her.

          The second thing is to go through the checklist in this article and ask yourself, honestly, if you meet all the requirements, especially your turnout and balance. If you don’t, then those are the things you need to work on at home.

          • Avatar Chloe says:

            I just wanted to tell you, that my teacher asked me to go on pointe and I’m so excited! Thanks for giving me tips!!

          • Avatar Marisa says:

            Yay! Congratulations!!!!! 🙂

      • Avatar Ingrid says:

        Hi! My name is Ingrid and I’m sixteen. I started dancing when I was twelve, and improved quickly because I was already strong from the other sports I play. I was supposed to go en pointe two years ago but I got very sick and had to take a break. I’m back since November 2016 (it’s February almost March 2017 now) and I’ve improved immensely. I started the year off with pre pointe classes, and by the end of my first month I was moved up to doing intermediate pointe on flats. I take ballet three times a week, an hour and fifteen minutes each, and tap for an hour once a week, which helps strengthen the ankles some.

        I have two different teachers because of scheduling. One of them likes me a lot and said at the beginning that she wouldn’t want to put somebody on pointe if she’s had them for less than a year; but it’s a small class with her. Only three girls, so I’ve improved a lot under her teachings. The other teacher loves to play favorites. She gives pointe shoes to some girls who have bad feet, are falling on their pinkie toes on full pointe, fool around in class, have bent knees in relieve, and just aren’t strong enough yet. She plays favorites and gives them features parts in the dance. While everyone is fooling around I’m stretching and working on my feet. I do most of the barre work with my hands off the barre because I’m strong enough and have enough balance to go on full demi pointe without something to hold onto. After every class I ask her “what can I work on to be able to get on pointe faster” and does tell me and I work on the corrections and she tells me she notices but I still haven’t gotten my shoes. It’s frustrating because I see other girls who dont deserve it have it when I’m working very hard and still don’t have it. What should I do??

        • Avatar Marisa says:

          That is so frustrating! However, because you have been back for less than six months, I don’t think I would give you your pointe shoes yet, either. You sound like you’re very close indeed, but I would be patient for another couple of months. Is there any way you can rearrange your schedule to avoid the teacher who plays favorites?

          • Avatar Ingrid says:

            Thank you so much for replying Marisa! I’ve talked with both of my teachers and in about a month or two I will be going on pointe. In the meantime, could you recommend some core strengthening exercises and stretches to better the arches of my feet? I really want to be able to be strong when I do go on pointe. Again, thank you so much!

          • Avatar Marisa says:

            Yay! Congratulations! As for exercises – it’s a great help if you can strengthen the tiny muscles in your feet, which you can’t do in ballet class. A good exercise is what I call “piano”: with your foot flat on the floor, practice picking up and putting down each toe, one after the other, like you were playing the piano with your toes. Most people can’t control their toes individually so it takes some time to get the idea! That exercise will also help prevent you scrunching your toes when on pointe.

            I know this seems very boring but this really is the best exercise for strengthening your feet
            https://youtu.be/-J4945XQG7s

  15. Avatar Ella says:

    hi im Ella and i am 11 years old and i dance for 11 hours a week i have been in ballet 3 for 4 years and my dance teacher thinks me and two other girls are getting them in may but they are a year younger than me and have only been in ballet 3 for 1 1/2 years i think they r holding me back bc my dance teacher dosent want us to get them at different times bc she dosent want anyone jellous of anyone. my friend cailyn got hers when she was 10 and my dance teacher told me i was too young to start pre-point and i can do everything on the list quite well and ive been doing daily excercises at home. what should i do ?

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      Ella, I do not think you should worry. Girls should not be starting pointe at 10 years old unless they are at a full-time ballet school, so I do hope your teacher knows what she is doing. The other girls aren’t holding you back, because while you’re not doing pointe, you are strengthening and improving all your other ballet technique. 11 or 12 is the best age to start and you have plenty of time.

  16. Avatar Shelly says:

    Hi
    I’m 12 and i have done about 2 years of ballet but i had a break last year. I can balance on demi pointe well and have strong legs, feet and ankles, I’m doing inter foundation this year and hoping i can do pointe soon do you have any suggestions to get to pointe faster?

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      You don’t say how many classes you’re doing per week. With only two years of ballet and a break, I’d expect you to have some work to do. If you’re prepared to put in the hours, then I suggest buying the Perfect Pointe Book and working through it, it will make a big difference.

  17. Avatar Leigh-anne says:

    I’m 13 in 1 month and my teacher likes to pick favorites, I’m really struggling, I’ve been doing ballet for 3 years and my ankles are really strong a good turnout and a good posture, she likes to take the best in the class and give them pointes , what do I do if she picks favorites?

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      Have a talk with your teacher. Don’t wait until she has picked students. Tell her you are working very hard to get en pointe, and ask her, what can you do to ensure you’re ready as soon as possible? And can she give you some idea when you might be ready?

      If you’re too shy to approach your teacher, then ask your mother to talk to her and ask for an update on how you are progressing, when she thinks you’ll be ready for pointe, etc.

  18. Avatar Dance4me says:

    Hi
    I’m 12 almost 13 and I have flat feet and low releves. I’ve been trying to do releves each day but it doesn’t seem to help. Almost Everyone else in my ballet class is about to go on pointe but me. How can I get ready for pointe in a limited amount of time?

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      Do you have an arch when you point your foot? If not, then you really need to see a physio or doctor who treats dancers. Unfortunately I can’t suggest any exercises that would help. If you start pointe and can’t get “over the box” because of your lack of arch, you’ll be much more at risk of injuries and falls than other students. You can’t dance pointe if you are standing on the edge of the box.

      If you do have an arch when you point your foot, then your main problem is likely to be that your feet are too weak and flexible. In that case, strengthening exercises can make a big difference. You need to train your feet to hold an arch while you’re standing on a flat foot – then you’ll be able to hold it en l’air. You’ll also need to take particular care to choose a well-fitted pointe shoe that holds your foot snugly in place.

      You’ll find some good suggestions for exercises here:
      http://www.danceaustralia.com.au/news/can-you-improve-your-arch

  19. Avatar Clara says:

    I just got pointe shoes and I’m 11 (12 in two weeks) and I’ve checked all the list, especially balancing and turnout. I’ve been dancing for almost 10 years, and this year i have 10 hours a week of dance, sometimes more, and i work on some things at home. Do you think my teacher made a mistake in giving me pointe shoes? Or do you think she gave them to me at the right time?

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      I would trust your teacher. I think waiting until 12 is good advice as a general rule, but that is partly because most 10- and 11-year-olds are not doing 10 hours a week of classes! It sounds like you’re well prepared.

  20. Avatar Mia says:

    Hi Marisa
    I’ve been doing ballet since I was 4 and now in 12. I recently took a break and missed grade 4. Now I’m in grade 5 and I’m quite behind. Most of the other girls in my class are already en pointe. Do you think I will be able to catch up soon?
    Thanks

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      Did you miss the whole of grade 4? If so, then you do have a lot of ground to make up for. You need to do extra work at home, BUT do make sure you’re doing it correctly. I recommend the Perfect Pointe Book by Lisa Howell, it contains all the exercises you need to do for homework.

  21. Avatar Naomi says:

    Hi im 12 years old and im turning 13 in a few months i just started ballet this is my first year and they put me in 4 th grade the other girls are going to start pointe this year in like 6-7 months can i go on poite work with them ? My teacher says that im really good and im learning way too fast and also can a go on pre pointe without my teachers permission?

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      It’s great to hear you’re doing so well, Naomi, but no – I would be worried if the teacher lets you start pointe with the other girls. There is no way you can be ready in less than a year, no matter how good you are.

      Yes you can certainly do pre-pointe because in pre-pointe, you don’t stand on your toes.

  22. Avatar Dancing guru says:

    Hi. My name is Emily and I’m 13. I took one full term of about 15 weeks of ballet two years ago, and one summer intensive with the same company. I’m not as flexible as most other dancers but I’m not the stiffest girl in my class. My arch is good and I do theraband exersizes every night. I stopped taking ballet class for two years and I just started up again. I’m taking one class a week that’s an hour and a half long. I have very strong ankles and legs, and can do 16 releves on each foot, one at a time. I have two questions. One, I have wanted to get en pointe ever since I was three. Considering everything I’ve told you, how long do you think it will take me to get en pointe? And two, do you have to be flexible to dance en pointe?

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      No, you don’t have to be flexible to dance en pointe. One thing that’s often overlooked is that you must be able to hold a good turnout on demi-pointe and in your working leg. You do sound strong, which is a good thing, but having two years out might be a problem. It depends what kind of sport or exercise you’ve been doing in the meantime. Most people would need two classes a week to catch up, but keep working hard at home and you never know!

  23. Avatar Shannon says:

    Hi my name is Shannon ( I’m 12 now)when I was 4 I started ballet but then I stopped because we had to move and here where I live ballet classes are very expensive so my parents could finally afford ballet classes and I’ve been doing ballet for 3 years and I’m starting to go from teen recreational ballet to graded I’m taking 2 classes of 1 hour each for every week and I was wondering am I ready for pointe work now?

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      Hi Shannon. If you were doing “teen recreational” then that doesn’t sound like serious work – if that’s the case, then no you are not ready for pointe yet. Two classes a week is a good foundation, if you work hard it won’t be long, keep working!

  24. Avatar Maia says:

    I am 14 years old and I have only been dancing ballet since September (It is July now), although I have been dancing other styles since I was 6. When the dance season starts up again in September, I am going to apply to ballet dancing everything you mentioned in the checklist. After another year of ballet technique practices, do you think that I would most likely be ready for pointe work?

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      Maia, if you work really hard, it is certainly possible! It’s impossible for me to say for sure, but the only way to find out is to try.

  25. Avatar Charlotte says:

    hi, i have been doing ballet since i was 2 ( 12 now) and i go twice a week for 2 hours (total). i really want to go on pointe soon and i am working really hard on not rolling my feet, which is my main setback. any tips for that? also recently, one girl in my class got her ponite shoe and i really want to ask my teacher how long until i can, but i am worried about what she will say. also, can you tell personally that youre ready for pointe??

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      Hi

      I’m so sorry Charlotte, your comment went into the spam folder and I didn’t see it.

      First of all, doing ballet since you were two doesn’t necessarily help with readiness for pointe: when you were really little, you’d have learned a lot about moving to music but not much technique, and technique is what you need to get on pointe.

      Secondly, the best way to stop rolling – lots and lots and lots of releves, done very slowly in front of the mirror, making sure you’re doing it exactly right with no rolling!

      You should certainly ask your teacher. It’s not going to change her decision so it’s better to know!

  26. Avatar Janine says:

    Hi! My name is Janine…I’ve been doing ballet for about 2 years now. My current studio doesn’t offer pointe to girls who aren’t in competitive companies, so I’m transferring to a more serious studio starting this summer. I’m 14 and I check off all of the boxes on this list, but I know my technique isn’t PERFECT. I get the occasional correction that my hips aren’t forward. How long do you think it would take for me to get en pointe dancing 4-5 days a week at my new studio?

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      Janine, no one’s technique is ever perfect! If you really can check off all the boxes, then I’d say your chances of getting en pointe very soon are good. However don’t bank on it – some studios have set rules, and will insist students complete a certain course or wait a set number of terms before allowing them on pointe. So it’s going to be up to your new studio. Good luck!

  27. Avatar Naomi says:

    Dear Marisa,

    I have been dancing since I was 11, I am almost 13 right now so I have only been dancing for two years! My teacher said that I am ready for Demi-Pointe shoes, but then I talked to her about getting on to pointe and she said it would be a possiblity if I worked extra hard and took extra summer courses. She also said not to get my hopes up incase the summer teacher says no. I don’t curl my toes, I have good posture, I have pretty strong legs, I am working on my balance but its pretty good for the most part and so is my turn out. One thing that I have a problem with is the sickling in my right foot. I have been working really hard and its been getting better but I really need help! Any suggestions? Do you think im rushing? I am on the verge of panicking because I have no idea if I can make it by the end of summer!!!

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      You’ve been dancing for only two years and you’re ready for demi-pointe shoes already. Congratulations! Demi-pointe shoes are the FINAL step before you move up to pointe, so that means you are definitely close to your goal. I know it’s hard to be patient but personally I’d recommend accepting the move to demi-pointe. You’ll be up on your toes in less than a year, I’m sure.

  28. Avatar Lisa says:

    Hi! I’m 13 years old (turning 14 this August) and I have been training in ballet for about a year and a half. It was supposed to be two years (I started when I was 11 almost 12) but I had a stress fracture in my lower tibia. I’m only allowed to return to dance classes (I’m mostly a ballroom dancer, I do ballet outside of class) in two weeks. However, with the help of physical therapy and great doctors in my area, Im fully healed. I can hold a relevé for 15 seconds on each foot, but I definitely need to improve my ankle strength. I know I’m not ready for pointe just yet, but I’d like to be en pointe by the time I am 15. Is that realistic?

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      Yes I think it’s realistic. Remember that a lot of the ability to hold a releve is in the whole leg, not just in the ankle, and keep working!

  29. Avatar Mackenzie says:

    Hi Marisa,
    Im 12, and I have been wondering how long it would take me to get on pointe. I have been dancing since i was three and was doing jazz and tap and eventually added contemporary, hip hop, musical theatre, etc but i never did ballet. I tried ballet for a term last year and my teacher said i was very good for a beginner. Unfortunately i haven’t been able to do ballet this year and i was wondering is this gonna affect how long its going to take? Im really interested with pointe and im so angry that I didnt do ballet this year but I wanna know how long it might take and how many classes a week i should take. Usually its 2 at my studio. all of the other people in my class have been doing ballet for a long time and they might be getting pointe shoes next year. How far do you think i will be behind?

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      Hi Mackenzie, it’s very hard to say you far behind you’ll be without seeing you. However, you already have a LOT of necessary skills like musicality, rhythm, performance skills, and you’re used to learning choreography. It’s likely you’ll have better core awareness and be more grounded than the ballet girls because of your contemporary and jazz classes. So those are all things you’ll take in your stride.

      What you’ll struggle with is the turnout. Moving your legs in full turnout takes different muscles which you’ll have to develop, and you won’t be allowed on pointe until you can hold your turnout on demi-pointe.

      This is a good little book on how to improve your turnout:
      http://www.theballetblog.com/portfolio/training-turnout-part-1-achieving-your-ultimate-range/

  30. Avatar Liz says:

    Hi my name is Liz, I am 12 years old and I have been doing ballet for 6 years. I started pre pointe work about 1.5 years ago. I was wondering if there was any exercises I could do to help with balencing and/or to stop me from curling my toes when I point

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      Hi Liz. The best way to help you with balance is to get a balance board like this one. Do make sure you use it on a carpet or thin rug, because it is slippery!

      Place it close to a wall or piece of furniture so you have something to grab if you wobble. First get used to balancing on the board on two feet, then start trying to balance on one foot. When that gets too easy, start trying to do plies on one leg, and développés. Also try to balance with your eyes closed.

      Balance isn’t about having strong legs or feet, it’s about having a strong core (middle) and holding your body in perfect posture.

      As for curling toes – try to stop thinking about “pointing my toes”, and think about “pointing my foot” or “pointing my BIG toe” only. Also see my reply to Eva.

  31. Avatar Poppy says:

    Hi my name’s Poppy, I am 12 years old and I have been doing ballet since I was 3. I have been doing pre pointe class for about 4 months I know that I’m not ready for pointe yet because I can’t balance on one foot while in Demi point. In our uniform list it says Demi point shoes from grade 6-7 upwards. I am currently in grade 5, but I was wondering weather that means that I will have to wait till grade 7 for pointe shoes even if I’m ready a like the year or two before. Also there is 7 other girls in my class (we are the highest class) and me and my classis like a mini family we are so close, but would our teacher put us up to pointe work at different times or together because we are the highest level?

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      Hi Poppy. If your teacher is doing her job properly, then yes I’m afraid she could put you up to pointe work at different times because everyone is different. Some of you will be ready early, some will be ready later.

      If you’re not able to balance on one foot in demi-pointe yet, then you still have a lot of training to do. Be patient, work hard and you will get there!

  32. Avatar Eva says:

    I am 12 and have been doing ballet since I was 7. I take 3 hours of dance a week. I am not taking pre-pointe. I curl my toes and have low arches. I was wondering how long I would have to take pre-pointe class to go up en pointe.

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      Eva, it’s hard to say how long you’ll have to take pre-pointe, because it depends on how strong you are, how hard you work, AND whether you can fix those curling toes. I’d say the curling is what will hold you back more than anything.

      Ask your teacher to show you exercises to break the habit of curling. When you pointe, think about pointing your FOOT not your TOES.

      Practice pointing your foot with your toes flexed upwards, then bring your toes down into the pointed position. Also get yourself some toe spacers and wear them while pointing and flexing your feet – you can’t curl your toes with toe spacers on!

      https://youtu.be/vsXa5q3Jk28

  33. Avatar kathryn says:

    hi, I’m 15 years old I’ve been dancing for 12 years- I have been working severely hard this year I’ve took 3 extra classes that will help strengthen me a week even more but my ballet teacher said that its doable probably in 1-2 years do you think it would be possible to any sooner?

  34. Avatar Bria says:

    I have been dancing sense I was 2 (I’m 12 now) but I have only done 2 years of ballet(3rd grade and this year, 6th grade.) My teacher always tells me I have really good achilles tendons and says that’s good for pointe. The rule at my studio is you HAVE to be 13 for pointe (which I’m turning next year) do you think I’m ready for pointe?

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      You sound like you are doing well, but no – to be perfectly honest,I think you will need to attend at least one extra class a week to be ready for pointe

  35. Avatar Hannah Williams says:

    Hi im 13 years old and i have danced ballet since i was 3 years old and have started other dance styles such as freestyle and contemporary later on. My dance teacher has not mentioned me going on to point even though i really was too. I only do 1 class a week but i have been told im a strong dancer in all three dance styles and work very hard. What should i do??

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      Hannah, one ballet class a week is not enough to get on pointe. Your other dance styles don’t work the same muscles so they don’t help. Sorry.

  36. Avatar Kara says:

    I’m 15 (16 this year) and I did ballet from the ages of 3-10 (all flat) before I stopped. I really want to get back into it though I’m going to wait until I’ve finished my exams. I wondered if the fact that I haven’t danced properly in a few years would effect me getting pointes?

    • Avatar Kara says:

      Another thing, you mentioned in the article that if you tend to stick your bum out it will be harder to go en pointe. My but sticks out naturally and makes my back arched and my posture atrocious (this is because I used to have a heavy ruck sack during my first years at high school). Is there a way to make my back straight again, and my posture better?

      • Avatar Marisa says:

        You say your but sticks out “naturally”, but then you say it’s due to your heavy rucksack – that means it’s not natural! So it can be fixed. It will take hard work but it can definitely be done.

        This article is about flamenco posture but it’s relevant to ballet posture:
        http://hubpages.com/entertainment/Flamenco-Posture

        You may need to stretch your hip flexors (the muscles at the front of your hip) too.

        If you can afford it, some sessions with a physiotherapist would be very worthwhile.

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      Yes it will affect you – you’ve probably lost all the strength in your turnout muscles and will have to build those up again. On the plus side, you’re older and that means you’re naturally stronger, so you should get your “muscle memory” back again quickly.

  37. I have been a dancer for almost 3 years and am 12. When I point, my toes touch the ground. My teacher says I have the best point in my class. The problem is, she says I can’t go on point because I’m not flexible enough. My parents won’t pay any extra money because we are really tight in it. Any tips on getting very flexible soon? My teacher says if I am flexible before winter break, she will go with me to buy pointe shoes.

    • Avatar Miss Unflexible says:

      And I also took 3 years of jazz from when I was 6-9

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      Flexibility is not important for pointework, what matters is strength. However your teacher may be saying that you need to work on other aspects of your dancing and get those right, before you move up to the next level.

      If you’re not naturally flexible then you need to stretch and stretch and stretch – every day, twice a day. Make sure you warm up first (stretching cold muscles can be dangerous).

  38. Avatar Maddie says:

    Dear Marisa,
    I am only 11 years old, and I just switched to a new pre professional ballet school. We have mid year assessments coming up in January, and there is a possibility that I could move to Level 5 (the level you can get your pointe shoes) and I was wondering what I could do to help get that chance up higher. I have medium-flexible arches, strong legs, ankles and feet. I was also wondering if Russian Pointe shoes would work for me? (VERY narrow feet with narrow metatarsals)

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      Dear Maddie,
      I am SO sorry I didn’t see your comment over the holidays! Just keep working – you sound like you have a good basis. Lots and lots s-l-o-w releves, any time you have a minute to spare, are always a good thing.

      Hard to say whether Russian Pointe will suit you without knowing more about your foot, but they do have good shoes for narrow feet.

  39. Avatar TJ says:

    Dear Marissa,

    I’m 12 years old already and have been doing demi point for a year. I’ve developed my foot quite well through the years (been dancing since I was 3) and it makes me sad to see 7-year olds and 6-year olds on point! Anyway, something I need to work on is my point, because it’s really been bothering me how I can barely see my point through my demi point shoe. And I have barely any arch at all, so that’s probably affecting it. Any suggestions? And where can I find more exercises to help me like this one?

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      I know it’s easy for me to say don’t worry, but that’s about all I can say! Your foot will look different in a real pointe shoe because the pressure of your weight on the toe will mould the shoe to your foot better. Plus you can choose a pointe shoe designed for your foot shape (whereas demi pointe shoes are fairly standard).

      However massage and theraband exercises may help. This is a good article: http://www.danceaustralia.com.au/news/can-you-improve-your-arch

  40. Avatar Z Ballerina says:

    Hi Marisa, I am 13 and I have only been doing for two years 🙁 I know I that two years is not a lot of time but my ballet teacher said if I keep working hard I will be going up at the end of the year. Can what are the best things to do in the next 2 months.

    Thanks!

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      Hi, two years is about right, you are on the right track. The big things to work on are your turnout and leg strength. Do lots and lots and lots of releves, making sure you’re using the technique in the video above.

  41. Avatar Excited and Frustrated says:

    I’m 12 and have been doing dance sense I was 3. I’ve been on a competition ballet schedule sense I was 7 and have been taking pre pointe for 2 years. The pointe evaluation is coming up and I want to see if you have any last minute excersizes to add strength very quickly to already decently strong feet and legs. The excersizes above does not tire me until I do about 50 on each foot. Help!

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      Hi, it sounds like you’re doing fine, so I’m not sure what you’re worried about! Is there some particular area where you feel you’re weak?

  42. Avatar Chaela says:

    Dear Marisa, I am about to turn 12 and am going to start ballet in January of next year. I did ballet for 4 months then stopped when I was 8. I am now doing a week camp with ballet for a hour everyday. How long will it take me to get to pointe. (I plan to do ballet until I can get them because I have wanted pointe ever since I started ballet)

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      Chaela, everyone is different and you should be guided by your teacher, but plan for about two years if you do lots of practice and attend two or three classes a week.

      • Avatar Chaela says:

        Dear Marisa I am sorry but I got the time wrong. I have done ballet for 2 years between ages 8 and 10. I am pretty sure they were lessons that were going to help me get on pointe. I am 12 now and still plan to do ballet next year. How long would it take me to get on pointe? (Sorry for all of the mixups) 🙁

        • Avatar Marisa says:

          Chaela, those classes were a good preparation and will help you make better progress, but you have missed two whole years and you will have to build up your strength again. I still think it will take you about two years to get on pointe.

  43. Avatar Akemi says:

    Hey! I have been dancing since the age of 6 ’til the age of 8 and unfortunately stopped. But, luckily, I went back on track when I turned 11. With 2 years of training, am I ready to dance on pointes? How can I assess myself or what tests should I do to know if I am ready? Thank you!

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      Hi Akemi and I’m so sorry to be slow in replying, your comment went in my spam folder!

      First, the good news. You haven’t missed out by not dancing between the age of 8 and 11. Serious ballet training doesn’t start until you’re at least 10 – before that you’re just learning musicality, so you’ve missed very little.

      As for whether you’re ready – unless you’ve been taking several classes a week, I suspect probably not. The best thing is to be guided by your teacher, and don’t be impatient!

  44. Avatar Justyce says:

    Hello Marisa, I have been doing ballet for about a year and a half, I am extremely eager to start pointe work and I have trying my absolute hardest! I am 16 but I weigh a bit more then the “normal” ballerina. My friend who is en pointe said that she thinks I will start in about four months, should I talk to my teacher? I have absolutely everything down except the final test which is to be able to stay on passé releve for 45 seconds without wobbling. I really want to start by summer! By then I will also be 17.. What excercises should I do? I also plan on majoring in dance and everything in college… So if there is any advice I would love it! Thank you 🙂

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      @Justyce, the passé relevé test is very important – pass that and you should be fine!

      As a late starter, you need to fast track your progress so I really think the Perfect Pointe book is an absolute necessity (it’s not actually a book, it’s four DVD’s full of exercises).

      • Avatar Justyce says:

        Although you have no idea what my feet look like, what would you recommend for beginners? Two people at my dance school that just started have Grishkos, but my friend said that I shouldn’t get them because they have a small box and are very hard to break in…

        • Avatar Marisa says:

          @Justyce, there’s no such thing as a beginner’s shoe – there’s only the shoe that is the right shape for your foot.

          The Grishko 2007 suits a wide range of feet, but that’s not to say it will suit you. Their strong shank is super-hard so would be hard to break in, the solution is not to get the hard shank if you don’t need it!

          • Avatar Justyce says:

            Thank you!:) so last night my ballet teacher emailed me saying how great my work ethic, technique, and class appropriate attire is. And that in 4 months she is going to take me to get my first pointe shoes 🙂

    • Avatar zaria says:

      Dear maria, im zaria and im 12 years old. I’ve been dancing ballet since i was 4 years old. I stopped for about a year at age 9, but im a really strong dancer. How do i make my body more shaped and formed like a ballerina.

      • Avatar Marisa says:

        Hi Zaria!

        Your body is still developing. If you are taking regular classes and eating the right foods, then your body will gradually take on the shape you want.

        Are you eating enough? Some young dancers worry too much about being thin, and don’t eat enough protein (meat, cheese, fish). Your body needs protein to build those beautiful long, lean ballet muscles! You can also do Pilates to fine-tune your weak points.

  45. Avatar dancinggirl07 says:

    Hi! my name is Emma and I’ve been wanting to get on pointe my entire life!! I have been dancing for 7 years and I am 10 years old.I have almost achieved my goal but not quite, any tips on how to blow the socks off my teachers so I will get on pointe faster?? Any perticular streches or routines in mind ? thanks so much!!

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      You don’t need to blow their socks off, you just need to be ready! Keep working on being rock solid in your balances – you need to be able to balance on one leg on demi-pointe without a single wobble.

  46. Avatar BalletGirl99 says:

    i have quite a high arch in my foot and is uncomfortable when i wear heels, pupms etc. ive not been told i am ready for pointe work yet but im wondering if i am still able to do pointe work also when i walk my feet turn out a bit more than what my friends do!!! a lot of the girls in my class have moved on to pointe work and me and some other girls who have decided not to do pointe work are the only girls left except from the younger girls who were just new after the summer. will any of these stop me from doing pointe work soon. (im 13 in february)

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      @Ballet Girl, you’re lucky to have a high arch, because it means your feet will look beautiful in pointe shoes – and you’ll also find it easier to get up “over the box” when you’re en pointe. Natural turn-out is not a bad thing either.

      If your feet are hyper-arched, it can mean they’re a bit weaker and you’ll need to work harder to build strength (and get the right shoe that stops you going too far over) but there’s no reason you can’t do pointe.

  47. Avatar Frustrated dancer says:

    hi Marisa,

    whenever I go to my pointe class it really bothers me. It’s not because the shoes are uncomfortable or whatever, it’s because of the class! especially the size! hoard of ballerinas are in one place at a time. there are some of them who experience enough pointe dancing before, some just started, some don’t even have a clue on what they’re doing! and many girls in a class can be really noisy and catty! some of the more experienced ones tend to shout at those who are new to pointe (like me). correcting us as if she was the teacher. those who don’t know what they’re doing laugh all the time as if we were goofing around (they were laughing at their feet because they cant go over the box). the class environment is frustrating me! the teacher don’t really pay attention to me because of the size of class. I want to find another studio, but afraid other studio might want me to start all over again and not allowing me to do pointe work.

    any tips? thanks! xxx

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      @frustrated dancer, I’m not surprised you’re frustrated! That sounds like a bad class. It’s not unusual for ballet students to be catty and bitchy, unfortunately – it’s one of those things you have to learn to live with. But if the teacher isn’t paying attention then you’re not going to improve, because you’re not getting proper tuition. I think trying another studio would be a good idea, even if they do make you start pointe all over again.

      • Avatar Lili says:

        Hi Marisa,
        I’m 11 now, and all of my friends are on pointe and I’m not. My best friend started when she was turning 8 and all my other friends started when they were 9. They all are really good now and I still don’t even have pointe shoes!!{we don’t go to the same school}. I go to a very strict ballet school that wants to train me for a scholarship. I really want to be on pointe!!!
        Please help, Lili

        • Avatar Marisa says:

          I wish I could help you, Lili, but your “strict” school is doing the right thing. 8 years old is far too young to dance on pointe and when they get older, your friends may regret going en pointe so early, because they’re more likely to get injuries or damage to their feet.

          Your teacher obviously recognises that you have talent and wants to make sure your feet safe and healthy so you can have a long and successful career. Be patient!

  48. Avatar Megan says:

    I found this article because I wanted to keep my musceles strong because I already do pointe.

    I’m now in my 10th year of dance and just turned 13, Ive been on pointe since I was 10.

    I do pointe, tap, lyrical, jazz, hip hop, acrobatics, ballet, and musical theatre.

    What advice do you have for a long time dancer who wants to go pro?

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      Megan, it depends what kind of dancer you want to be. For instance, if you want to dance ballet, then you need to let your other dance styles go and concentrate on ballet, several times a week. Bottom line is that if you want to be a star in any one dance style, you can’t spread yourself too thin.

  49. Avatar Melanie says:

    Dear Marissa,

    I have done the excersise many times and have found many more on the internet. I just wanted to know do you think if I worked really hard and because I have 8 Years Dance experience (Including, Jazz Contempry Jazz Ballet ect…) the teacher may let me start on en pointe?

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      Melanie, how old are you? You say you’ve been dancing for 8 years, but generally the years before age 10 don’t count, because you’re not given really serious exercises before that age. If you’re in your teens, you may be able to get on pointe early depending how strong you are.

      • Avatar Melanie says:

        I am 12 Marissa but I started really serious excersise at the age of 9, when I got pushed into the splits and pulled 5 muscles on each leg! 🙁

        Also I am happy to wait for pointe as I don’t want to damage my feet. My Mum thinks Ballet is silly because you can really hurt yourself so I want to prove to her that a good ballerina is a safe ballerina because I have wanted to do Ballet all my Life! Ever since I was 2.

        • Avatar Marisa says:

          @Melanie, if you’re already 12 and you’ve done a lot of dance training, you’ll probably get on pointe quickly. One hurdle is turnout – it’s the one thing you don’t need for contemporary or jazz,but it’s absolutely critical for pointe. And I don’t mean flexibility for turnout, I mean the strength to hold the turnout. I’d advise you to work really hard on that!

  50. Avatar Jenna says:

    hi Marisa

    im 12 and a half and ive got one problem – when i point my toes i curl my last 2/3 toes up and ever since i realised it it seems to be annoying more than anything else – im afraid this will stop me from starting pointework soon i have no idea how to fix this as ive tried pointing my toes and slightly relaxing my foot so its not as tense but when im in class it just goes back to the way it was in the first place

    help!!

    love Jenna x x 🙂

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      Hi Jenna. I suggest you do the rise with transfer of weight exercise in the video above – do it every day and really focus on stretching your foot. Think about it as if you’re pointing your foot to the max, except for your toes (because they’re still standing on the floor). That will get you used to the feeling of pointing your foot without doing strange things with your toes, it may help.

  51. Avatar Balletmom says:

    My 12 year old daughter started pointe one year ago. She appeared ready, took 3 classes of ballet per week and has very strong legs. The last few months her growth plate on the outside of her foot started to stick out. It seems this is because she went on pointe too soon. She is a late bloomer as well. She loves to dance, but does not aspire to be a professional dancer. I highly recommend that parents don’t make such a big deal about their daughter’s going on to pointe. Have your daughter wait until they get their period. Hopefully, my daughter will not be disfigured because of this. I am not blaming the teacher, but the reality is my daughter’s class and level were ready to go on pointe, but her bones were not. In researching this injury, I am disappointed that I did not know the problems caused by going on pointe.

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      @Ballet Mom, I’m so sorry you had that experience.

      Even when a dancer is 12 or 13, it’s still vital to check all the other signs of readiness as well – and as you’ve discovered, even then, it’s possible to get things wrong, because the only way to be certain is to have a specialist doctor’s approval.

      That’s why I shudder when I see 10-year-olds and 11-year-olds on pointe.

  52. Avatar Melanie says:

    Hi Marissa,

    I am starting Ballet in Grade 6 and may be doing a pointe class but just in normal ballet shoes on demi pointe, do you know what I could do to practice for this as I am really nervous!

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      @Melanie, you’ll be just fine! The best exercise to do is the one in the video above. Do it carefully and slowly and it will make you much stronger.

  53. Avatar Elaine says:

    I am Starting pre pointe the nineteenth and I have one problem…. I curl my toes!! How do I fix myself??

    • Avatar Marisa says:

      @Elaine, don’t panic – it’s quite a common problem. Part of the problem is in your head, believe it or not! Stop thinking about “pointing your toes” and start thinking about “pointing your FOOT”. Also try not to think about your other toes at all, just think about STRETCHING your big toe away from you.

      It can help to do the “Rises with Transfer of Weight” exercise in the video above, because that trains your foot to stretch to its fullest extent without the toes – once you get that feeling combined with strength, it’s easier to add the toes on and learn to stretch them properly.

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