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How Long Should You Take Ballet Before Starting Pointe?

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Most dancers live for the day they are finally allowed to dance en pointe! Dancing en pointe requires a student to meet certain milestones before they can begin, and one of those is having enough ballet training.

Dancers should study ballet for at least three years before beginning pointe. Those three years should be consistent, focused ballet training. But the length of study is not the only requirement for dancing on pointe.

On the left, a line of ballerina's legs wearing pink tights, pink ballet shoes and pink skirts standing in third position. On the right, an image of  several ballerinas' legs with pointe shoes on, standing en pointe

Because dancing on pointe can be dangerous for untrained dancers, there are other requirements for students to meet before starting pointe classes.

Considerations For Dancers Wishing To Dance En Pointe

These are just a few of the things to consider when making the decision to start pointe lessons. Be sure to also consult your teacher before putting your child in pointe shoes!

1. Length of Training

Dancers who would like to dance en pointe must have no less than 3 years of dedicated ballet training under their belt.

That being said, “dedicated ballet training” does not mean a half-hour combo class, or a 45-minute class once a week.

A ballet class that prepares a child for eventual pointe work is an hour to an hour and a half long, occurs at least twice a week, and includes a full class from barre to center to allegro.

So, a 6-year-old who has been taking a ballet/tap combo class for three years is not ready to dance en pointe!

2. Quality of Training

Image of young dancers facing away from the camera. They wear white leotards and skirts, tights and ballet shoes and are standing at the barre in sur la coup de pied position.

The quality of ballet training at different studios varies depending on a lot of factors, such as location, the focus of the program, and the skill level of the teacher.

A dancer who has not received high-quality training may not be ready for pointe even after more than three years of ballet classes.

If you aren’t sure whether the quality of your child’s ballet instruction is any good, take a look at our article 18 Things You Should Look Out For In a Dance or Ballet Studio!

3. Age

Dancers must be at least 11 years old to start dancing en pointe.

However, this doesn’t mean all 11-year-olds are ready to start dancing en pointe.

At around the age of 11, for some children, the bones of the feet have hardened enough to be able to withstand putting the full weight of the body on the toes.

But many children may need to wait another year or two regardless of meeting other milestones like class taking and technical ability.

4. Maturity

Image of young ballet dancers wearing pink leotards in a dance studio. They are close together in a ballet pose.

Many young dancers who are serious about their craft have the maturity to start working en pointe. But, all children are different in their maturity levels.

Maturity matters for pointe work for many reasons, including having to manage the responsibility of caring for pointe shoes, and dealing with the inevitable pain and discomfort that come with dancing en pointe.

Dancers who are immature even in their middle school years may complain in class about the pain, neglect to learn the proper way to care for shoes, or goof off in class.

Use your best judgment and consult your child’s ballet teacher if you think your child may lack the maturity for pointe classes. There is no harm in waiting another year!

5. Technical Ability

Dancers are ready for pointe when they can demonstrate proper technique in flat ballet shoes.

That means, among other things, having proper alignment, a strong core, strong ankles and feet, and an understanding of how their body moves through space.

Pointe work becomes dangerous when dancers who lack technique attempt steps they’re not ready for.

Other Questions You May Have About When To Start Pointe Work

What Are The Best Pointe Shoes For Beginner Pointe Dancers?

Close up image of 4 pointe shoes, sitting on their boxes on a brown wooden floor

The best pointe shoes for beginner pointe dancers are the ones that fit!

Since all pointe shoes are handmade, and all dancers’ feet are different, there is no “best” shoe for pointe.

Instead, dancers should be fit by an experienced pointe shoe fitter to find the right shoe for them.

For more on purchasing pointe shoes, read our article Everything You Need To Know About Buying Pointe Shoes For Ballet!

Does My Dancer Need To Buy Demi Pointe Shoes?

Demi pointe shoes are a training tool used by some dancers in the time before graduating to real pointe shoes.

They have a full leather outsole and a semi-hard box but aren’t meant to be used like pointe shoes to go up onto the toes.

Demi pointe shoes are not necessary for training for pointe but could be useful for some dancers to strengthen their feet.

For more on demi-pointe shoes, check out this article What Are Demi Pointe Shoes and Do You Really Need Them For Ballet?

Can Adults Learn to Dance En Pointe?

Image of an adult ballet dancer at the barre, wearing pointe shoes. She wears a red leotard and black skirt, and has one foot up on pointe.

Adults can start dancing en pointe, provided that they meet the same length and quality of training requirements as younger dancers.

Pointe work is challenging no matter how old you are, but adult dancers, with the right preparation and training, may be more successful than a younger dancer who lacks the drive and maturity for the skills required to be en pointe.

Can Boys Dance En Pointe?

Boys can certainly dance en pointe, as long as they also meet the requirements of age, technical ability, maturity, length, and quality of training.

Male dancers may want to learn pointe to strengthen their skills, add a class to their schedule, or simply see what it’s all about!

Male dancers may not often have the opportunity to perform in pointe shoes in a professional setting, but it’s certainly a useful tool to improve technique and strength.

If your dancer is interested in beginning pointe work, take all of these tips into consideration before moving forward. And as always, consult your teacher before purchasing any shoes or beginning any outside dance training!

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