Here are some great exercises to help students prepare for pointe work. These exercises can be done at home, or before or after ballet class. Parents, this is a wonderful opportunity to help your daughters achieve their goals of getting on pointe. These exercises can also help students assess how close they are to being ready for pointe. If the work is extremely difficult, students are probably not ready for pointe work yet. Remember that not all students will be ready for pointe just by taking the minimum number of ballet classes required by their ballet school. Always work with your instructor and abide by their decisions to wait longer to go on pointe. Students who go on pointe before they are ready can damage the development of the growth plate or sustain serious injuries. Adding these exercises to your child's training regime can greatly improve their chances of going on pointe and can greatly improve pointe work if your child has already been asked to go on pointe.
These exercises have been collected from various sources including dance medicine specialists, physical therapists and master teachers. For great resources for accelerating your dance training, visit Lisa Howell's website at The Ballet Blog. Her books The Perfect Pointe Book and The Perfect Pointe Book Parents Manual could be invaluable resources.
1. Sitting in a chair or on the floor, bend the knees to 90 degrees. Maintain upright posture with tummy pulled in and shoulders and hips square. Push the tips of the toes into the floor while lifting the metatarsals in a dome-like action off the floor. Hold for 5 seconds. Release by extending the toes back to the floor. Repeat up to 20 times and then change to the other foot.
2. Spread a towel on the floor lengthwise in front of you. Place the ball of your foot on the edge closest to you. Curl the toes into you pulling the towel towards you. Repeat until the towel is completely pulled towards you, 20 or more curls. Change to the other leg. As this gets easier, dancers can add a weight, like a can of soup, to the end of the towel.
3. Theraband exercise A: Sitting up tall with the legs straight out in front of you, tummy in shoulders and hips square, back elongated place the theraband around the ball of the foot, hold the ends with the elbows to the sides. Starting with a flexed foot, extend the ankle to "demi" pointe, then full pointe then demi pointe and return to flex position. Repeat 20 times.
4. Theraband exercise B: Tie the two ends of the theraband together around the leg of a sturdy ballet barre or heavy piece of furniture. Sit up tall with the legs straight out in front of you, tummy in shoulders and hips square, back elongated. Place flexed foot inside the loop with band around the ball of the foot. Make sure there is tension in the band. Sickle the foot in a flexed position and then return to neutral. Pronate the foot in a flexed position and return to neutral. Repeat 10-20 times. Then change feet. Then repeat on each foot with a pointed foot.
1. Standing leg balance: Students should be able to hold this position for 10 seconds without wobbling or falling. Stand on one leg parallel with the other leg in parallel coupe. Engage the muscles of the standing leg. Be sure to stand centered over the ball of the foot without rolling in our out. Allow the toes to spread evenly on the floor. Hold the tummy tight and make sure the hips and shoulder are square. Repeat on the other leg and also turned out on both legs.
2. Single leg raises: Students should be able to easily to 20 repetitions of this exercise on each leg. Stand on one leg, turned out, with the hands lightly placed on the barre or touching a wall, chair or sofa. Hold the other leg in coupe back, be sure to maintain the turn out in both legs. Slowly rise to the full demi pointe, slowly lower maintaining the straight standing leg and turn out from the hip.