Prepare your feet with exercises specifically designed to stretch and strengthen your feet and ankles
Preparing your feet usually means taking pre-pointe class, where the exercises of the class are designed to do just that. Often pre-pointe and pointe classes are taught together. The same movements
that help prepare your feet for pointe shoes are also excellent exercises that will help you learn to use your new pointe shoes. Taking a pre-pointe class (or a pointe class in ballet slippers) will get your
muscles and muscle memory ready for pointe.
Practice your pre-pointe exercises at home.
Often, pointe/pre-pointe class is offered only once per week. While these classes are crucial for learning how to prepare for pointe, an hour a week is not enough to truly build the strength your feet will need. Therefore, practicing at home is a key part of preparing yourself for pointe shoes. Also, don’t hesitate to ask your teachers before or after class (NOT during) what you can work on during the week to help you improve. They can give you targeted exercises to help with the challenges specific to your feet.
And speaking of practice …. Take other ballet classes!
Believe it or not, pointe isn’t just about your feet. Proper technique for your entire body is key to dancing en pointe. Taking ballet classes every week will prepare you for your first pair of pointe shoes, and will help you improve more quickly once you get your shoes.
Most importantly, you’ll know you are ready when your teacher tells you you’re ready.
Getting the news from your teacher that all of your hard work means you are ready for pointe shoes is one of the most exciting days of a dancer’s life. Your teacher is the best person to assess the strength of your feet and your readiness for the shoes.
Because pointe is so hard on the feet, and likely to cause injury without proper strength and preparation, it is important that your teacher give you clearance first. Do NOT buy pointe shoes without your teacher’s approval to start this challenging art. When you have permission and are ready to buy your pointe shoes, it is time to schedule a fitting with your local dance store. Ideally, your teacher will be able to accompany you to the fitting. Don’t be afraid to ask!
For more information about Artisan’s pointe and ballet offerings, see our online adult schedule.
by Sarah Bollig Dorn