The controversy on pointe work in daily technique class verses Pointe Class.
Throughout my career in Ballet, both on a professional level and as an educator of dancers for well over 30 years, the ongoing dilemma of fitting pointe work into student’s curriculum has always been perplexing to us all.
Some professional companies and their schools have insisted on students taking class on pointe daily in their regular technique class. On the professional level when female dancers are technically strong on pointe this can be of value since Directors and Choreographers can see daily the strengths and weaknesses of the women in their companies or upper level classes.
However, in an Academy, or Studio School setting this may be good for the students when the student is of an advanced technical level. I do not believe this practice should not be applied to young students who perhaps have only been on pointe 3 or 4 years. Basically they tend to learn bad habits that later result in inconsistency and habits that need to be relearned later in their lives in order to advance to a higher technical level and prevent injuries.
For the young student and more advanced students there is no substitute for good pointe class at least 3 times or more a week. Starting with warm up footwork and advancing to point exercises at barre and center. These classes need to be geared to the particular level of the students and specific pointe technique combinations.
I have witnessed teachers starting point class right away in the center without proper warm up and execution of the different techniques of getting on and off pointe properly related to the steps given.
As ballet teachers we want our students to advance and dance with correct technique in their pointe work. I believe that this can be achieved with carefully prepared curriculum and pointe classes for the advanced and younger students.
As the students become more advanced and stronger on pointe they certainly can progress to dancing on pointe in technique classes starting once a week to three times a week along with regular perhaps shortened pointe classes. This also assists students to improve jumping in pointe shoes with combinations in petite allegro and grand allegro.
We are the stewards of our future dancers and as educators we should be aware of the dangerous pitfalls that come our way regarding dancing safely on pointe and help our dancers dance longer and stronger with less injuries.
Associate Professor of Ballet
The University of Oklahoma
School of Dance