When will your little dancer get her first pair of pointe shoes? Well, this is determined by the teacher. The biggest thing that the teacher will be looking for is if the feet and ankles are strong enough. The earliest that girls get their first pair of pointe shoes is 9 years old – this is when the calcification of the bones in the feet is sufficient enough to support the entire body’s weight when standing on pointe (standing on toes).
To gain the strength needed for this exciting event in a young dancer’s life, it is important to take class at least 3 days a week, preferably more. Every exercise in class, when performed correctly, will build strength in the ankles and lower legs and also improves balance and stability needed when standing on the very small platform (tip) of the pointe shoe. Jumping, surprisingly is great for building strength needed for pointe work.
Feet and ankles very greatly with each dancer, not just in size, but also flexibility, which can play a big role in the strength. Dancers with really flexible feet and ankles (“banana feet” as dancers call it) will have a harder time with strength. Dancers with stiff feet and ankles will tend to be stronger but will have difficulty “getting up on pointe.” When up on pointe, the platform, or tip, of the pointe shoe should be flat on the floor putting it in line with the ankle and hip.