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 Post subject: When is pointe work really a must?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2001 6:32 pm 
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Joined: Fri Sep 22, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 130
Location: Pa, USA
I have my own opinions on this matter--but would really like to hear others before giving my input. My questions are: How neccessary (sp?) is pointe work truly for a student? What are the issues that suggest it is in the students' best interest to work on pointe? Is it only for the pre-professional student? Only for the student considering working in dance? Should all ballet students take at least one season of pointe work to learn what it requires and feels like? Is the musical theater dancer at a loss for not taking pointe work ever? When do you as a teacher feel it is an important factor in their training and when is it not something that needs to be considered--and has anyone ever said "no--you really don't need to be on pointe" to a student?


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 Post subject: Re: When is pointe work really a must?
PostPosted: Tue Jan 23, 2001 8:15 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 13071
Location: San Diego, California, USA
In my opinion, if the student is learning for recreational purposes only then there is no overriding necessity - and the student can make a choice as to whether or not to pursue this aspect of the ballet.<P>If the student evinces a desire to study for vocational purposes then it will be necessary to study pointe. But, even then it is the student's choice as to whether to make it a career or not. <P>I think the student does need to study this if the student intends to teach it, however. <P>I have in my teaching career refused pointe to two students. One was quite obese, she was there for recreational purposes though she studied quite seriously. But, it would not have been consistent with good practice to have allowed her to go on pointe being so overweight. I was honest with her and told her this very confidentially. She understood and worked on her weight and did reach a point at which she could study en pointe. <P> There was another who had very sickled feet, totally inflexible and could barely releve', and was not placed - she could not get centered over her feet. She and her parents understood and accepted it, quite gracioulsy. She stayed in the class many years and enjoyed what she could do.<P>The only trouble I ever really had with the issue of "to pointe to not to pointe" was with parents requesting me to put students who were too young on pointe. To this I always adamantly refused. When I carefully explained it to the parents (mostly mothers) and showed them xrays of kids feet in the Celia Sparger book "Anatomy and Ballet", most understood. But there were some who just wanted their daughters on pointe no matter what. <P>To that I had one answer: "I will not participate in the destruction of your child's feet."<P>As for the musical dance student - I suppose if they are ready for it, and wish to do it, why not? Some take it just to strengthen their feet and ankles. The key word here is "ready" for it - and also under good supervision. <P>This is also true for men. I have taught and been in class with a number of men who took pointe for various reasons. They wanted to strengthen their feet and ankles, they wanted to be able to teach it, they want to see what it is like for their partners, or they want to be able to do a role - like Bottom in "The Dream". Some want to do it just for the experience. If they are ready and the teacher is knowledgeable, I don't see anything wrong with it.<P>Jan - this is a very good topic - I am glad you raised it. I hope I touched on each of the questions you raised.


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 Post subject: Re: When is pointe work really a must?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2001 5:10 am 
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Joined: Fri Dec 22, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 68
Location: IL, USA
Pointework is an extension of 'soft shoe' work, and therefore, upon readiness, offered to any student with interest. In 'open' classes at studios (as opposed to pre-pro studios with more formal curriculums), I will include any student willing to commit to certain stipulations that include mandatory attendance and the purchase and maintainance of proper equipment (with the exceptions of any physical condition that would make this unadvised). I have a printed handout that accompanies a brief meeting (with a parent, if a child) which covers my expectations.<P>The advantages of pointework to any dancer is increasingly the movement vocabulary and its possible 'colorations'. I don't see why this shouldn't be offered to the 'musical theater dancer' or those in serious 'recreational' study. I don't make a distinction in training; the dancer makes that by the level they are willing to commit to the curriculum. I don't offer less or more based on the label of the class. <P>------------------<BR>It is not knowing the answer that matters, but what question to ask...

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It is not knowing the answer that matters, but what question to ask...<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: When is pointe work really a must?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2001 2:57 pm 
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Joined: Fri Dec 15, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 498
Location: neworleans, louisiana
Pushy mother of the year award goes to:<P>(Drum roll, please)<P>Mother who wanted her teeny tiny but very bright (and happy at the level she was placed in, thank you very much)7-year-old to go on pointe. The school administrator told her that one rule of thumb (besides the 10-year-old minimum) is that pointe work shouldn't begin before the child begins to grow breasts. The mother responded, "Well, she's not going to grow breasts on her feet!"<P>Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah


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 Post subject: Re: When is pointe work really a must?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2001 5:06 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2000 11:01 pm
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
It's a shame there are not exams before people are allowed to become parents - but then it's a shame there are not instruction books that come along with kids. LOL


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 Post subject: Re: When is pointe work really a must?
PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2001 6:40 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jun 28, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 73
Location: Canberra, Australia
Thanks for a very good laugh Christina!<P>Danni Image


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 Post subject: Re: When is pointe work really a must?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2001 9:17 am 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
Christina - shall I assume then that my puberty is not as yet complete - because I am lacking that specific attribute you mention? LOL<P>oy


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 Post subject: Re: When is pointe work really a must?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2001 10:34 am 
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Joined: Fri Dec 15, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 498
Location: neworleans, louisiana
Basheva:<P>You are probably very lucky, as a dancer in that respect. I remember one of my closest friends and I dishing in the dressing room one day about 'boobs' and saying wouldn't it be cool if you could just put them away in a drawer most of the time and take them out just for a hot Saturday night? <P>They sure can get in the way for ballet. <P>It took me a looooong time to get mine -- college, I guess. Then, when I found out I had cancer, I said, "Well, isn't that just my luck! Took me so long to grow them and now I gotta give one of 'em back. Geez, why couldn't I get cancer of the booty, and get a butt-ectomy and then come back to class after surgery and everybody could say, 'wow, you look great, so slim (and buff)!' -- but, thanks to ballet, and much to the surprise and puzzlement of my treating docs, the errant boob didn't go away after all ... seems that all that port de bras work counteracted the effects of surgery and radiation so that even my docs and techs can't tell which one was treated. Pretty cool, eh? <P>Maybe you're a late bloomer, Basheva. You never know what to expect...hahahahahah<P>


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 Post subject: Re: When is pointe work really a must?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2001 1:04 pm 
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Joined: Fri Dec 15, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 498
Location: neworleans, louisiana
Why did my message appear twice? Because it was so witty? I dunno. Because it had nothing to do with pointe work or this thread? Shoot, now I feel I must redeem myself by contributing something of actual significance to this thread. Hmmmmmmm.<P>Okay, one of my college teachers opined that no matter how hard a dancer worked, she would never get as pulled up without pointe work as she would with it. <P>That brings up the next question -- I've lately heard classmates comment about this or that particular dancer's thighs having a very high pull-up muscle. They want to know how to achieve that. I would think, that in addition to pointe work, a dancer would also have to be very cognizant of closing her battements, etc., with very 'high' hips and straight legs, rather than making the mistakes of sinking into the hip or letting the knees relax in order to achieve a tighter fifth, etc. Also, of not rocking back into the hamstrings when doing cambre forward. Can you think of other things that would help achieve this widely admired high pull-up muscle? Interestingly, the two dancers who have talked about this lately both took to pointe work very easily because of very flexible feet and slim bodies -- it may in fact then be possible to do pointe work and still not be completely pulled up. They may actually be 'fudging' their way through pointe work. <p>[This message has been edited by Christina (edited January 25, 2001).]


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 Post subject: Re: When is pointe work really a must?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2001 1:50 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 13071
Location: San Diego, California, USA
Christina - I was going to try and delete one of your messages - but since you mentioned it in your second post - I won't - cause then it wouldn't make sense!! HA HA <P>There is a way to get those high pull up muscles and it is fairly simple. It's the same technique for getting a high extension. After being very well warmed up - put your leg up on the barre - and without stretching at all on the barre - and as well aligned as ever you can get - lift the leg from the barre a couple of inches and then lower it. You do this without fail every class to the front and to second. Just lift a couple of inches, hold and then lower. <P>This was told to me by a very old teacher - my first teacher - and it really does work. As she explained it, the inner thigh muscle lifts the leg to retire' and then slightly above and from there these high pull up muslces take over the lift. However it's like a Catch 22 if you don't have those muscles you can't get there. So that is where the barre comes in. This also works very well for pointe.<P>I, also, felt that I was always much more pulled up when on pointe - there is no choice LOL - you are either pulled up or you fall over. Well, ok - you sort of squish around. I can see I am not feeling very technical today. I can't think of the French word for squish. Maybe they don't have one.<P>I am transposing a lot of my typing too - but you can't keep a good typo-ist down for long.


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 Post subject: Re: When is pointe work really a must?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2001 2:14 pm 
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Joined: Fri Dec 15, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 498
Location: neworleans, louisiana
I am wondering if there is a relation between the method you were taught (which is very nice indeed) and something I was taught a few times. When developing the leg to the front, before lowering it, take a second and think of sitting very high in a chair which lifts the whole body a little, before letting the leg slowly descend. <P>You can go ahead and delete one of those redundant messages. It would make this thread look a lot neater, and I am a neatnik. Besides, I don't always make sense anyway, so don't worry about that. <P><BR>


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 Post subject: Re: When is pointe work really a must?
PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2001 2:53 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 13071
Location: San Diego, California, USA
Well, Christina - I don't think one should happen without the other. And the sitting high on a chair is a terrific visualization that you gave for almost anything in the ballet and certainly for extensions where it is a common error to sit down into them.<P>But this method this very old and very fine teacher taught cuts through the catch 22 of trying to use muscles that aren't yet there and yet you have to get there to use them.<P>When I sit on the floor with my legs stretched out in front of me and if I tense all my leg muscles I can actually feel those very high muscles with my fingers as they get really hard. And I am sure it was this exercise that did it. These muscles are not really visible - but I can feel them with my fingers.


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 Post subject: Re: When is pointe work really a must?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 26, 2001 11:40 am 
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Joined: Fri Dec 15, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 498
Location: neworleans, louisiana
Actually, I didn't mean that my visualization gizmo should be interchangeable with the tip you gave, but that I thought they were similar in theory. I liked your tip enough to block and print it. Thanks. <P>P.S.: Working in the law today is giving me a headache. Volunteer extra help and all you get is picky, picky, picky ... like the bumper sticker said on my car 25 years ago: "I'd rather be dancing."


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 Post subject: Re: When is pointe work really a must?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 26, 2001 12:48 pm 
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Joined: Fri Dec 15, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 498
Location: neworleans, louisiana
Basheva: uh oh it happened again. do I have a clone out there?


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 Post subject: Re: When is pointe work really a must?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 26, 2001 1:23 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 02, 2000 11:01 pm
Posts: 13071
Location: San Diego, California, USA
It's ok Christina - gives me practice "cleaning up" LOL. My son is grown and on his own, and my "cleaning up" skills are rusty. <P>I think our visualizations as posted above are most compatible. <P>Don't do anything that gives you a headache. I had a bumper sticker like that too, but my husband ended up driving that car. HA HA <p>[This message has been edited by Basheva (edited January 26, 2001).]


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