Friday, June 16, 2017

More thoughts on Adult Pointe classes

First my activity log...

I've been very good about going to class recently (though not so good at updating this blog). Last Saturday I left home for class at my normal time but got stuck in terrible traffic due to road repairs and didn't arrive at the studio until far too late. I opted to eat lunch first, then take the Stretch class in the afternoon. Wow, did that hurt! Clearly it's like ballet: take it on a regular basis, or don't take it at all.

Tuesday's class was the first in a long while where I didn't feel the need to sit out a section to recover. Not even the jumps. I'm going to claw my way back to taking 3-4 classes a week if it kills me. ;-)

Now on to the topic at hand...

Tuesday I arrived at the studio about 30 minutes early. Our instructor was stretching in the hallway, as is her habit, and I brought up the lack of adult pointe training in the area. Bear in mind that this was a rambling conversation in a hallway, not a prepared, thought-out analysis. I've also waited far too long to write these down. But here are what I remember of her thoughts:
  • There probably isn't enough of a demand.
  • Adults aren't serious enough take a class doing boring things like spending 20 minutes practicing rising from flat to pointe.
  • Adults would be more prone to injuries.
  • Too many would get pointe shoes because they looked "cute", not understanding the risks and training required.
Unsaid but implied is that girls have to be approved by their instructors before being allowed to take pointe classes. Some never make it; some are allowed earlier than others. How would this work in a world of adults, some of whom probably believe there is a constitutional right to take pointe class if they're willing to pay $20?

Mind you, she never suggested an adult pointe class was a bad idea, unlike the former director of this studio. It came across purely as her thoughts on why there weren't any such classes, and the impediments to having one. She did suggest that it might be possible to have such specialty classes on a less-frequent basis, like quarterly or monthly. But it wasn't like the idea lit a fire under her to set up such a class herself.

There were three women (or was it four?) in Tuesday night's class wearing pointe shoes during barre, and at least one wore them in center.  I know of more in the Advanced Beginner class who take barre en pointe. I don't know where the economic break-even point is, but it seems to me that with the proper marketing a major metropolitan area like Washington, DC, could support adult specialty classes like pointe.

I'm not really sure why I'm playing advocate on this. I'll never take a pointe class; even aside from the whole "men don't dance pointe" thing (ignoring the Trocks) I don't have anywhere close to the ankle and foot flexibility required to get over the box.

Maybe it's related to wishing there were other options for adults. This studio offers an "Adult Weekend Workshop" once a year that concludes with a recital. TWB has started to offer something similar, on the same weekend. That's once a year. If I wanted to join an amateur choir I could. If I wanted to join an amateur theater company I could. Neither requires professional-level skills to participate. Why isn't there something similar for adult amateur ballet enthusiasts?


  1. I struggle with this one, myself. I loved your comment about people thinking that they have a Constitutional right to take the class. I've certainly seen my share of people in pointe shoes that had me screaming internally, "Nonononono!" But on the flip side, those people are probably going to find a way to do what they want anyway, so wouldn't it be better to offer a venue that will hopefully educate them on how to do it properly? Give all the appropriate caveats and liability waivers, of course! But for those who want to and have the ability this seems like a win-win for all involved, especially in a metro area that can support it financially.

  2. Dancing over the Hill -- I am so touched by your advocacy of the point issue despite the fact that you probably won't take a pointe class yourself.(I do love the Trocks and believe men should be able to go on pointe if they want to strengthen their feet another way). You bring up many questions I've asked myself over the years. I took a 6-week adult beginner pointe class at Joy of Motion in DC years ago that was offered for another 6 weeks (but I could not make it sadly) and adults needed to be approved to go on pointe there. I wanted (and still want) to earn and learn the right way to process on pointe and personally would not mind taking "a class doing boring things like spending 20 minutes practicing rising from flat to pointe" because I know those exercises are needed for proper pointe technique and strength.

    Roriroars -- I agree with your comment "those people are probably going to find a way to do what they want anyway, so wouldn't it be better to offer a venue that will hopefully educate them on how to do it properly?" Also, I miss your blog as well!!

  3. sorry more typos: "I wanted (and still want) to earn the right (through ability) and opportunity to learn the right way to progress on pointe"


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