Pointe technique is one of the most iconic element of ballet. The inspiration for pointe technique is the wish that ballet dancer appears weightless, lightfooted and graceful while jumping and looks lightweight like defying gravity.
Pointe work in classical ballet is formalized by pointe technique. It is performed in pointe shoes. Pointe technique means that ballet dancer performs on the tips of fully extended feet and in this way ballet dancer supports all body weight. Sometimes ballet dancer has to flex the toes to have the perfect alignment of this technique.
Ballet dancer must have great strength and good technique to be able to do pointe work, so a lot of practice is required. Dancers have to dance for a few years before they can start practice pointe technique.
At the age of 8 to 14 years old foot bones begin to harden, so pointe technique should not be practiced before that age to avoid deformed feet. Before 11 years of age bones in the feet are too soft. So young ballet dancers do not begin with pointe technique too early. Physicians can allow young ballet dancers to start with pointe work if their feet have finished ossified.
Before starting using this technique, ballet dancer has to have straight, balance, turnout and good pull up of the legs. Strength in legs, feet and ankles is developed on the barre, which is a stationary handrail that provides support for ballet dancers during warm up exercises.
Ballet dancers can develop sprained ankles, inflammations, stress fractures and deformities like bunions, bunionettes and dancer’s heel.
Dancing with pointe technique can cause injuries by the lack of cushion, no fitting pointe shoes, lack of accessories and overall improper use of the technique. To prevent injuries like blisters, calluses, ingrown nails and bruises ballet dancers wrap tape around the toes and use accessories like gel toe spacers.
Pointe shoes are made with the specific structural reinforcement. In this way, dancer’s weight is distributed throughout the shoes and foot, and the weight is reduced on the toes. The foot is placed with toes perpendicular to the floor, and the instep of the foot is fully stretched. The flattened tip of the pointe shoe is called toe box.
The perfect pointe technique can be seen visually by ballet dancer’s alignment. When you view the ballet dancer from the side, you can imagine the line passes through the center of the hips through the toes.
Ballet dancer’s foot is in en pointe when it is fully extended vertically, touching the floor, and it can fully support the body weight or not. Pointe work consists of the artistic and mechanical part. Pointe technique formalizes placement of the feet, body alignment and transitioning from and to en pointe.
Transition to en pointe can be done in three methods: