When should my ballet dancer go en pointe?

In ballet, an important decision in the development of a young ballet performer's training is when to begin pointework. Because of the risk of serious injury in the skeletally immature dancer, it's important to consider all factors when deciding to start this strenuous training. The answer is not as simple as deciding a specific age to start, but has more to do with physical maturity, strength, technique, and proper guidance and commitment to the process.

In terms of age, most dancers can begin pointework around age 10-12. The growth plates in the foot will stay open and continue to ossify past this age, so it's important to protect them both internally and externally. Externally, a properly fit pointe shoe is critical. This can be done under the guidance of these special shoe makers. An improperly fit shoe can lead to injury despite proper technique. Internally, the muscles that stabilize the ankle when in such extreme positions should be optimized. This will come with proper ballet training and mastering of the other fundamental positions.

Being able to maintain balance on high demipointe on one leg, have correct technique for plié and tendu, and relevé and piqué up to balance are essential. Dancers must also maintain a strong core and leg, thigh, hip, and gluteal muscles. When a young ballet dancer is able to demonstrate all of these things as well as full commitment to the process, enpointe training can be considered. A qualified instructor and proper supervision are also key.

Here's to all your dancing dreams...may they come true!