Ask the Experts: My Student Isn't Ready for Pointe, But the Parents Disagree?


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.

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Who knew that a virtual awards ceremony could bring our community together in such a powerful way?

Last night, we celebrated the annual Dance Teacher Awards, held virtually for the first time. Though it was different from what we're used to, this new setting inspired us to get creative in celebrating our six extraordinary honorees. In fact, one of the most enlivening parts of the event was one that could only happen in a Zoom room: Watching as countless tributes, stories and congratulations poured in on the chat throughout the event. Seeing firsthand the impact our awardees have had on so many lives reminded us why we chose to honor them.

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For Parents
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As studios in many areas begin to open up with safety protocols in place, dance students are, of course, itching to get back into class. But just because dancers can go back to in-person training doesn't mean all families are ready for their children to actually do so.

As a parent, it's understandable to feel caught between a rock (your dancer's will to attend in-person class) and a hard place (your concerns surrounding COVID-19). Yet no matter how many tears are shed or how much bargaining your dancer tries, the bottom line is that when it comes to issues of health and safety, you—the parent—have the final say.

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