I'm not hanging up my pointe shoes just yet - our pointe class has been granted a temporary reprieve from getting the ax. However, we must get some new bods through the door. Whilst I would say our class is lower intermediate level class, we are now open to beginners!
As I've mentioned, so many girls who have come to our are poorly prepared for pointe, at any level, and when they come to our class this lack of preparation shows and they go away frightened and depressed. So the key to a successful pointe experience is - be prepared!
If you are new to pointe, then here are some things to consider.
The most important factor, obviously, and you must get properly fitted. This is the difference between a good experience and a downright dangerous one. Trust me, I know a thing or two about badly fitting shoes. Your shoes are your tool and they must be up to the task. It is also important to break in your shoes before you come to class. As a beginner, your feet won't be very strong yet and shoes which haven't been broken in will be impossible to work with.
Ribbons are important, especially when you are new to pointe. Ribbons have to be tied in specific way and that does not involve bows. Step away from the bows! Ribbons are there to support your ankles, not for frivolous decoration. I don't care how many photos you've seen on Pinterest of 'ballerinas' with their shoes tied with bows, don't do it!
Another hugely important factor in pointe work is having a solid ballet technique already in place. When you are doing pointe work, even beginner pointe, it's important to built it upon a solid foundation. If you have literally just started ballet then pointe is not for you. It requires a fair degree of strength, particularly in the core and legs, and whilst pointe will build up your ankle and foot strength, you must be strong enough to endure the rigors that come with learning the craft in the first place.
It's very helpful to watch some tutorials on YouTube to see exactly what's involved in a pointe class, then that way when you come into class you won't be stunned at what you are asked to do. There are also plenty of instruction videos on how to break in your shoes and sew your ribbons.
We all go to ballet classes with certain expectations, however, with pointe class don't expect to be dancing the white swan after 3 classes nor expect it to be easy and pain free. Neither is true. Pointe requires incredible patience as progress can seem slow or even non-existent. You must persevere and understand that with every class your feet and ankles grow stronger, even when you have what you think is a bad class. So don't give up after a few classes.
There will undoubtedly be other girls in class who are more advanced than you, but don't compare yourself to them. Everyone's progress is unique to them and we all started somewhere. Your teacher won't give you exercises she doesn't think you'll benefit from trying, even if you fail. Often, she's giving you exercises to help you lose your fear. You need to have your first fall before you realise it's not so bad.
It's really easy to forget to have fun in class, especially when you are learning. Pointe class is no different. Luckily, our class benefits from an amazing teacher who makes it immensely fun.
So, if you are in Glasgow, please come and join us and help save our pointe class. You can also help by tweeting about our pointe plight using #SaveOurPointeClass.
Class 7.30pm until 8.30pm at Dance HQ.