Pointe Preparatory 

BBT currently offers a pointe preparatory program for those serious about dancing en pointe. Please call or email us if you and your child are ready to begin our pointe preparatory program. We would be delighted to evaluate your dancer and create a program that will benefit your dancer in a knowledgeable and safe environment. Annie and Catrina have extensive knowledge of the Vaganova Technique and offer decades of training and experience in placing dancers who are ready to dance en pointe. BBT currently requires students interested in beginning their pointe training to take a minimum of 2 hours of ballet instruction and 1 hour of pointe preparatory instruction per week. Eligible students have begun serious ballet training by at least eight years old, with training continuing for at least two years. Dancers will be evaluated by age ten or above to be considered for pointe work. To move forward, students must complete a practical and written exam demonstrating their knowledge of ballet technique and basic anatomy. After the evaluation, we will re-evaluate if a dancer proves to need more time to be ready for pointe work. We can recommend the dancer begin working in class en Demi Pointe shoes, which are transitional shoes between soft and pointe, until they are ready to retake the practical and written exam. Pointe shoe fittings will be done by Annie, a Master Fitter trained to fit for brands such as Grishko, Nikolay, Bloch, and Gaynor Minden. Careful consideration will be made when fitting each dancer to create a custom fit that will benefit the dancer and their continued training and safety. An ill-fitting pair of pointe shoes can be dangerous to a dancer. Once a student has been placed en pointe, they will learn how to sew their elastics and ribbon properly for their foot strength and shoe shape and learn foot care and injury prevention techniques. 

Please see the below criteria to begin pointe work at BBT; we are eager to know when you and your child are ready to start! 

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Criteria for Pointe Work

  1. The student must be ten years old to be considered for pointe work.

  2. The bones of the feet do not fully develop and harden until approximately 13-15 years old. A dancer must be strong enough to protect the bones before they are fully developed. Beginning pointe too early can permanently damage immature bones.

  3. The student must have at least two years of consistent training in ballet with one year of pointe preparatory classes to be considered.

  4. The student must take a minimum of 3 ballet classes a week consistently. Dedication to the art is both required and beneficial. 

  5. Be able to hold correct turnout while dancing from foot flat to demi-pointe. 

  6. Correct turnout is achieved from the hips rather than from the feet and knees. In the turned-out position, the foot is aligned with the knee cap and hip joint. 

  7. Correct turnout should be easily maintained in demi-pointe. Weight centered forward over the big toe heels forward to avoid sickling, and knees straight. Maintaining this proper turnout is more difficult en pointe.

  8. Maintain a strong, straight trunk while dancing without tilt in the pelvis.

  9. A straight trunk is held by both the back muscles and, more importantly, by the lower abdominals.

  10. A weak trunk will throw the student off balance while en pointe, making it challenging to do ballet steps. This also puts the dancer at risk for injury.

  11. Be able to perform a correct demi-plie position for all transitions. 

  12. Demi-plie should be performed with the turnout from the hips while maintaining the kneecap in line with the 2nd toe and without allowing the heels to pop up. This should occur in pirouette preparation, jump preparation, and before en pointe positions.

  13. Pointing of feet: the dancer should be able to point their foot in all steps, especially at the barre, and then in the center without “sickling.” Dancers should try to achieve full pointe with stretching because it is required to get en pointe. 

  14. Using the floor to point is also very important to build muscles in the feet and ankles.

  15. Pique passé with a straight leg.

  16. Students should have enough strength to push themselves onto half-pointe. This step is harder to do en pointe, and a bent leg is usually a sign of weakness or improper step preparation.

  17. Be able to do 16 relevés in the center without stopping.

  18.  Strength for pointe work is achieved by repeating exercises. Relevés are excellent for building calf muscle strength, which is vital for pointe work. This exercise is more difficult to do en pointe because of the extra height, so strong relevés on half-pointe is a good sign of strength. The student must also go up as high on half-pointe as possible since pointe work demands this ability. A student who keeps their heels very low to the ground is not preparing the calf muscles adequately and will not have the strength for pointe work.

  19. Be able to hold a passé balance on half-pointe.

  20. The student should be well-placed (hips square, back straight, legs turned out) and have the strength to balance on half-pointe. This pose is more challenging to correct en pointe, as the surface area for balancing is smaller, and the strength requirements are more significant.

  21. The student must be in good health and able to take a whole class.

  22.  If the student frequently needs to rest because of illness or injury, they are not strong enough for the extra demands that pointe work requires.

  23. The student must have enough of an arched instep to stand on pointe.

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