Continuing from the previous article and in response to one reader’s brilliant question, I wished to offer an additional alterative suggestion for how you might wish to deliver your Pre-Pointe Workshops…
A full-day intensive ‘Pointe Starter Day’!
Your ‘Pointe Starter Day’ would incorporate all the theory covered in the previous article, from caring for their shoes to how to tie your ribbons, but would also include practical classes covering pointe-specific strengthening exercises, as well as individual assessments and shoe fittings… and also, their first ever pointe class. You can imagine their delight at the idea of a full day devoted to starting pointe!
By running an intensive in this way:
► You are able to cover more material and incorporate practical sessions, which means you can focus on teaching pointe technique in their first few ‘real’ lessons, rather than simultaneously covering auxiliary subjects. Also, you have less lesson time used up with shoe questions, ribbons issues etc. – it has already been sorted out.
► Students have the opportunity to immediately put theory into practice, so they are more likely to internalise and retain a larger percentage of the information you have given them.
► You can be present during your student’s shoe fittings, enabling you to communicate your preferences directly with the fitter and to be part of the process (thus also eliminating the need for multiple appointments when things go wrong – we’ve all been there!)
► You can make sure your students do the work of put all their theory into practice when preparing their own shoes and ribbons etc., and not going home and getting their parents/siblings/friends to do it for them! Additionally, you can observe and correct any misunderstandings as an when they crop up (“But Miss, I didn’t know you meant just burn the end of the ribbons”!)
Below I have devised a proposed example timetable, with suggested times, as inspiration as to the type of pointe intensive you could offer.
Pointe Starter Day – Example Timetable
• Introduction:- An introduction to parents and registration for students, including a warning to parents about the possible dangers and costs, but highlighting the benefits and pleasures. Include a Q&A with parents in the last 15minutes while the students get changed for class. [9:00-9:45]
• Pre-Pointe Strengthening Class:- A practical session to start the day covering exercises to practice at home for the feet/ankles and also turnout and core stability etc. [9:45-10:45]
• Workshop Seminar:- Covering the theory suggested in the article. [11:00-13:15]
• Individual Foot Assessments & Pointe Shoes Fitting:- Request a reputable fitter(s) come to the studio and kit out all the students in one go while you get to supervise/assist. [14:00-16:00]
• Pointe Shoe Prep:- Practical session where you help students sew on their on ribbons etc. and break them in. [15:00-17:00 overlap with assessments so students can commence prep as soon as their shoes are allocated]
• First Pointe Class:- Student’s very first pointe class to try out their shoes; an ideal climax to the intensive! [17:00-18:00]
• Cool-Down & Stretch:- A cool-down and stretch including teaching the students how to massage and stretch out their feet and toes after a hard pointe class. [18:00-18:30]
Depending on the age of your students, you may feel a working day of morning to evening to be too long or strenuous. In this case, simply split the above suggested programme into two, and make it a weekend programme, possibly also adding in a body conditioning class, ballet technique class, or an additional pre-pointe-strengthening class (one for each day).
Offering a ‘Pointe Starter Day’ is a very effective use of time and can streamline your successive class content. In addition, it is something which is very enjoyable and exciting for the students, as you are making a big event out of something which is extremely important to them.
Angeline Lucas is a freelance dance writer, teacher and lecturer based in England. She has been awarded Registered Teacher Status with the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) and is an Approved Teacher of the Council for Dance Education & Training (CDET). Angeline trained at Northern Ballet School (NBS) and holds a Certificate of Higher Education in Dance Education, validated by RAD and the University of Surrey. Previous roles have included working as head of department, outreach coordinator and curriculum manager, and she also has experience in dance research and arts administration. Angeline has taught and lectured at various private dance studios, schools, colleges and on community programmes, and is considered to be a dedicated, experienced and enthusiastic teacher. Angeline’s greatest passion is classical ballet, and is devoted to the advancement of the art form, the promotion of accessible high-standard dance education, and facilitating the achievement of her students.