When executed correctly, Pointe is an art of beauty and physicality that is second to none. But, as dance educators, how many times have you witnessed and/or heard of ill-prepared dancers en Pointe? To perform this most advanced form of ballet, dancers must be well-trained, classical technicians with the physical and mental readiness to properly perform the required technique. If dancers begin their Pointe training prematurely (developmentally or technically), they risk serious, permanent injuries.
As dance educators, it is our responsibility to know and implement the requirements and technical standards needed for our dancers to succeed. Even if we are not directly teaching (or offering) Pointe, it is imperative that we are knowledgeable in operating our programs, conversing with students and parents, offering advice, and safely guiding students through their training regimen.
Last year, I had the opportunity to attend a wonderful seminar presented by the Harkness Center for Dance Injuries. (I would highly recommend this event for anyone involved in the dance industry!) The workshop was entitled Dance Medicine for Dance Educators, and the seminar topics included:
- Studio Survival Tips: Practical Strategies For Safety, Injury Prevention and Management of Dance Injuries
- Debunking Common Myths: Bringing Useful and Relevant Science into the Studio
- Biopsychosocial Considerations of Dance Injury
- Teaching Methods That Promote and Protect Career Longevity
- Health Precautions and Related Training Modifications for The Adolescent Dancer
- Functional Tests to Assess Pointe Readiness
- Tips for Keeping You, the Teacher, Healthy
The event was beyond informative, and I returned with a lot of great information, especially in regards to the current scientific findings of Pointe readiness. The present, preferred method of functional testing is a brilliant, tangible way to measure dancer readiness for Pointe work.
To emphasize the seriousness of Pointe, the seminar presented the fact that the stress of performing one releve en Pointe is equivalent to what a runner endures running a 6-minute mile. That is an intense piece of information, further validating why it is absolutely necessary that protocols be in place to ensure our dancers’ safety. Negligence is unacceptable, and since our industry lacks regulation, it is up to us, the instructors and educators, to set the standards high.
What measures do you have in place to determine Pointe readiness at your studio? How are you ensuring your dancers’ safety and success in their Pointe technique? Do you have any frustrations or accounts of instructional Pointe negligence within the dance industry? We would love to hear your suggestions, tips, and stories.