Every ballet student dreams of the day they can buy their first pair of pointe shoes, and I know it's incredibly frustrating when your teacher won't let you. But there are often good reasons, so let's look at them - and what you can do about them.
Why Can't I Go On Pointe?
The most common question I'm asked is "why can't I go on pointe?" There are several possible answers
Reason #1 - You're Too Young
Unfortunately, if your teacher says "you're too young" and you're under 11, she's right. Sorry!
You will see 9 and 10 year olds on pointe - but unless they're in a full-time ballet course and they've been approved for pointwork by a specialist doctor, they shouldn't be. Go on pointe too young, and you could damage or deform your feet - and that means you can never, ever be a ballerina!
Some girls are ready for pointe before age 11, but only highly experienced ballet teacher are knowledgeable enough to judge accurately. Only a qualified specialist doctor can be absolutely sure. That's why most teachers play it safe and insist their students don't start pointe until they are 11 or 12.
However, just because you're not old enough to start, doesn't mean you can't prepare. If you start doing the right exercises now, you'll be stronger and have better technique by the time you're 11, so there's a much better chance you'll go straight into pointe class as soon as you reach the right age.
The Perfect Pointe Book is full of exercises you can do at home to improve your arch, strengthen your legs and improve your turnout - all things you need to go on pointe. I can't recommend it enough.
Reason #2 - You're Not Ready
But what if you're eleven or older, and your teacher says you're still not ready? How can you convince her to let you start pointe?
The answer is - improve! Your teacher must see some weaknesses in your technique - and the only way to change her mind is to fix those weaknesses. If she'll tell you where your problems are, all the better - and a reasonable teacher should be prepared to give you details. So if she won't, it's likely you need to work on all aspects of your ballet technique.
Your teacher is basing her judgment on how long it takes a typical student in her classes to develop the skills for pointe. So if you want to get ready faster than usual, you're going to have to do something special. You're not going to progress fast enough if you just do your normal classwork.
How to Get En Pointe Faster
I don't recommend doing your regular ballet exercises at home - alignment and accuracy are very important in all ballet steps, and it's just too easy for you to allow tiny bad habits to creep in when you're practicing without a teacher to correct you.
Luckily, there are plenty of prepointe exercises which you can do unsupervised - and because they're very targeted at preparing for pointe, you can make progress much faster.
I recommend The Perfect Pointe Book as the ideal source of exercises which target all the most important areas for pointe work. It's not a book, really, it's 4 whole DVD's which will help you with everything from getting more arch in your foot, to holding your turnout en pointe. What's more, you can get help and advice from the author, Lisa Howells, who's a qualified physiotherapist. So if you want to get on pointe fast, it's an indispensable buy!