For current students, invitations to pointe class will be distributed during the weeks leading up to the recital. A sudent who has taken a break from pointe or ballet over the summer or longer may be required to requalify through an assessment.
Pointe assessments will evaluate these qualities:
- A student must be 12 years minimum to allow proper bone ossification. When children are young, the growth plates are soft, and repetition of improper technique in something as strenuous as pointe can deform the feet and body in short order. It is common for dancers to have to wait until they are 12 or older so their technique and bones can strengthen.
- A student must have at least 2 consecutive years of quality training immediately prior to promotion. Length of training is not an estimation of pointe readiness, however.
- A student must be in good health and able to take a whole class. This includes being of healthy weight. If the student frequently needs to rest because of illness or injury, she is not strong enough for the extra demands of pointe work.
- A student must consistently take a minimum of two classical ballet technique classes a week. Class frequency makes a significant difference in development.
- A student must pay attention in class and work well. Going on pointe is a big step and requires commitment on the part of the student.
- A student must be responsible enough to bring all the gear she will need to class. Pointe shoes require extra care and accessories.
- A student must habitually use her core muscles properly and have a strong, proper posture while dancing and standing. Pointe requires that the student use the muscles in her torso, legs and feet to stand en pointe and not use the shoes as a crutch. Core weakness will throw the student off balance and will make it difficult to dance.
- A student must use correct plié while dancing and exhibit supple calf and leg muscles.
- A student must hold turnout from the hip while dancing. Turnout makes it possible to do steps that could not otherwise be done. If the student does not maintain their turnout, they are not strong enough for pointe.
- A student must keep the heels forward. (No sickling, a sure sign of improper technique.) The most stable position for pointe work is to have the weight slightly forward between the big and second toes. Improper center will make it more difficult to stay en pointe, and will increase the chances of strain and injury.
- A student must point the whole foot from the ankle and instep with toes pointed but long while dancing. These muscles need to be strong enough to support the body weight. If the student is not in the habit of articulating the foot muscles properly, they will not be able to support themselves en pointe.
- A student must have enough of an arched instep to stand on pointe. Dancers with very high arches often have weak alignment or weak muscles that they must first master.
- A student must execute properly 16 relevés in the center without stopping and 8 at the barre on one leg without stopping, right and left. There should be no pumping action through the upper body during this execution. Strength for pointe work is achieved by repeating exercises. Relevés are excellent for building calf and leg strength, which is vital for pointe. If foot and leg strength is an issue, Theraband exercises can improve this deficiency.
- A student must pique passé/retiré with straight leg and proper alignment. Student should have enough strength to push themselves onto half-pointe. This step is harder to do en pointe and a bent leg is a sign of weakness or improper step preparation.