Q: A student's parents insist their daughter is strong enough for pointe, but our ballet teacher says she's not ready. They want to take her to another studio that promised they'd put her on pointe. What should I do?
A: Throughout the years, we've found it's better to lose a student than to give in to a request that is not in their best interest. In the end, your customers will trust and respect that your ballet and pointe program is based on the safety, strength and best interest of the developing young dancer. But it's disheartening to watch students and parents studio-shop when you believe in and stand by your faculty's professional opinion—especially when it comes to the rigors of pointe work.
Unfortunately, since requirements for pointe vary from studio to studio, some parents don't fully understand why their child may not be ready.We suggest you educate your students on the dangers of going on pointe prematurely, a year or two before it's even an option. You can share online articles in e-mails and on your studio website. Clearly state your studio's readiness requirements for pointe and post this policy online. Some studios ask for a doctor's note that confirms the student's growth plates are closed and fully strengthened, in addition to requiring a certain number of hours in class to be eligible. Educating your parents and dancers will help them understand it's not a personal decision but a professional assessment.
Regardless of those efforts, be prepared to have a conference with teacher, student and parents, when you receive a request to go on pointe. You may want to create a personalized plan for a dancer, which could include adding more class time or private lessons and a timeline of what is feasible to work toward the goal of going on pointe.