First Pointe Shoes – What is the Right Age to Start Pointe Work

20 Responses

  1. GG says:

    My daughter started ballet late…at 13. She was on pointe at 14. She is now 19 and has worked very hard to “catch up”…but while other dancers are plagued with injuries her feet are strong and she has been injury free (knock on wood!) Other lovely dancers we have known that were on pointe at a young age have terrible bunions, knee issues and a lot of pain. It takes time and dedication. The rush to go on pointe is a problem. Also the demands of dancing and a growing body need to be considered. Responsible teachers are hard to find…the muscles, tendons, bones and ligaments all grow at different rates and heavy physical training from 11-15 can result in injury. Dancers need to have rest, eat properly etc. So many girls have their life consumed with dance that resting is not an option.

  2. Jay Chun says:

    I’m 13 and I started pointe when I was 7, is that too early and is there anything I can do to help my feet? (I still do ballet, I train pointe about 20 hours a week)

    • Marisa says:

      For most people, starting pointe work at 7 years old would be much too early. However, every individual is different. If you are still able to dance intensively at 13, then it’s unlikely you did any serious damage.

  3. Mimi says:

    I’m 12 and do gymnastics competitively. Therefore, I get a lot of posture and technique training. I might start ballet seriously, aiming to get en pointe and eventually get to the professional level. Am I too old/ will I fall too far behind the other girls?

    • Marisa says:

      No, you’re not too old. You will have to “unlearn” some things, because there are differences in posture and carriage of the arms. You’ll also have to develop your turnout. However, you’ll be ahead of most ballet students your age in flexibility and balance, so it should equal out. If you work hard, there’s a chance you could get on pointe within 12 months. Since 12 is the ideal age to start pointe, you wouldn’t be too far behind. Good luck!

  4. Miranda says:

    My studio doesn’t let us go up until we are 12, and then if we are strong enough. I was at master classes for a nationals competition, and in the 8-11 age category everyone was on pointe except the girls from our studio. I’m 14 and a half, just getting shoes today because of changing studios w different styles/being a late bloomer. But I think it’s better that I’m going up now, because my ankles are really strong which I need because I have a naturally super high arch.

    • Marisa says:

      Lucky you, I’m sure that means you have beautiful feet! And you are so right – because you’ve laid such excellent foundations, you’ll catch up very quickly. And when those 8 to 11-year-olds are struggling with injury problems in a few years, you’ll pull ahead of them!

  5. Angelfish says:

    I started on pointe when I was 10 years old and it was the worst decision of my life. I was very ambitious and even though I had to pass an exam to advance, my teachers were in disagreement as to whether I was mature enough to handle it. Well, I was NOT! I became very disillusioned by the hard work and the pain that I was told I should not feel. I was unable to handle this disillusionment and the pressure to succeed and so I quit. That was (and still is) the biggest single disappointment of my life. Dance is a passion. Mothers, teachers, counsel your girls to wait! A strong body does not necessarily mean a strong mind at this age.

    • Marisa says:

      Angelfish, I’m so sorry you had such a bad experience. You may not be able to see it, but the silver lining is that you quit, before you damaged your feet. I’ve known other girls start pointe at 10 and continue on, battling with sore feet for years, only to find their feet are too badly damaged to continue into a professional career.

  6. Theresa Payne says:

    Thank you for your article. My daughter is 10 and is preparing for a national ballet competition. The sad thing is in this introductory division pointe is not required but “recommended.” Most of the girls therefore compete on pointe against the few who are wise to stay in a soft shoe. Kudos to those teachers like my daughter’s who put the child’s health before the glory of producing a very young ballerina prodigy. And thank you for being very clear as to the damage done to our lovely young girls in the very competitive world of young ballerinas. My daughter will take her point reduction for dancing in soft shoes with pride and grace!

  7. BalletDreams says:

    Wow, that is wonderful information. I’m am in Grd 3 ballet @ my dance school and im 12. We are not permitted 2 dance on pointe untill we are 13 or older, but if you are 13 and you are quite weak, new 2 ballet or do not listen well in class then u hav 2 wait cause cause of injury is 2 risky, Thankyou JUDY 4 teaching me to dance!!!!

  8. ConcernedMom says:

    It is hard to strike a balance. I want my daughter to take her time but she is very keen to wear them.

    • Marisa says:

      There is no such thing as “striking a balance”, I’m afraid. That implies meeting someone halfway. Just remember that if you give in to her demands and let her get en pointe too early, you could be crippling her for life.

    • Mimi says:

      Just tell her that if she goes on, she is risking serious injury that could change her whole life. Tell her that if she waits just a little longer, she’ll be able to do much better, and be safer. She might listen to that.

  9. LadyM says:

    My daughter started basic pointe work at 11 but they do not do a lot, and only if the teacher thinks they’re ready. There is a lot of pressure on students however to do pointe in competitions as they think it gives them an extra “edge” and possibly winning against someone not on pointe. I think it should be stressed that pointe can only be done in age groups of 13 and over. I have seen girls in 11 year old age groups competing on pointe and falling over. My daughter does not intend on doing any pointe in competitions until next year when she is 13.

  10. AlyM says:

    Great info! It’s sad that teachers allow this kind of thing to happen. I think parents need to get much more involved and informed about their daughters dancing, a 10 year old who loves ballet probably won’t say no to pointe but if her mother was aware she might be able to put the kibosh on it. Not that all parents are uninformed, but in my experience too many don’t bother to learn.

  11. KerryG says:

    My teachers wouldn’t let us start until we were 12 or 13 and even then it was endless boring bar exercises to teach us proper posture and technique for a good year before we started center exercises. Turned out I have really long, weak arches, so I never even made it to the center – my feet just were not built right for pointe, so I spent the next few years until I quit watching jealously from the sides!

  12. Marisa says:

    Anna, break a leg!

    There are ballet schools who put their students on pointe early, but that doesn’t mean it’s right. The teachers often haven’t been adequately trained and don’t understand the dangers. At the RBS, they have experts who can advise on whether a girl is ready for pointe, so that might be the reason for the JA being allowed to do it. But it’s interesting to note that when you audition for the full RBS course at 12 years old, the audition only includes 5 minutes of pointe at the barre only. So the RBS isn’t expecting you to be able to dance on pointe at 12.

  13. Rosa says:

    I’m 13 and my teacher is only just letting me go on pointe (first class tomorrow :D) but I’m one of the oldest in my class, most of them are 10-12 years old and also starting pointe.. One of the girls is a JA at the RBS, I think they’re letting her do it and SHES 10.

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