What To Expect From Your Pointe Assessment

Purchasing your first pair of pointe shoes is an exciting moment in every ballet dancer’s journey; from the moment you slip them on and tie the ribbons, you feel like you’ll never want to take them off again. But before that can happen, the work to be able to dance en pointe will have been happening in the ballet studio for many years, as mastery of this technique takes time. It can also come with some risks. So how do you know when you’re ready? That is where pointe assessments come in. 

Pointe assessments are exactly what they sound like, assessments to judge when you are ready to safely move into pointe shoes. These need to begin at least one year to 18 months before the intended time of buying your first pair of pointe shoes. Usually, multiple assessments are done over this time to ensure all bases are covered and to keep you on track. It would be very rare to “pass” a pointe assessment and be ready for pointe shoes after just one, as most people will have areas that they need to work on to get their body fully ready to be able to dance en pointe safely. It’s much more of a process than a one-off event. Here’s what to expect when you come in:

What to wear/bring

It is best to come to your assessment in fitted clothes that you can move around in. This does not need to be a leotard, it’s probably better to come wearing leggings and a fitted singlet. You won’t need to bring any ballet slippers or pointe shoes, the assessment will be done entirely in bare feet! You won’t need to bring any special equipment with you, however if you have a notebook and pen that will probably be helpful for you to write anything down that you need to remember, as well as a phone with the ability to record video to record any demonstrations your osteo thinks will be useful. The assessment isn’t particularly vigorous, but a water bottle is probably sensible to bring along as well. 

What will happen

When you first arrive, you will start by having a chat with your osteo about where you are currently at and what your history is. This will include things like: how many hours per week you dance ballet, whether you have any current or past injuries, and even how long you crawled for as a baby. You will chat briefly about height, just to check on whether you are currency having a growth spurt or issues associated with one, but whatever height you are is fine. You will NOT be weighed; anybody can dance en pointe, no matter their shape or size, as long as they have the strength to control their own body weight. After chatting, the formal assessment will begin. This starts with a postural assessment to see your basic sense of control over your body positions, especially your hips and pelvis, and to check for things like scoliosis and hyperextension. After that, you will move through a functional assessment; this is an assessment of basic ballet technique and will go through things like pliés, rises, retirés, and tendus. This will give the osteo an idea of where your current technique is and the areas that may need the most attention to be ready to dance en pointe. After the functional assessment, the assessment will move into the areas that need a closer look. Each time you come in for follow up assessments this might be slightly different, but over time the entirety of the assessment criteria will be covered until you have successfully passed each component. The areas that will be inspected more closely are your feet, hips and core, and different tests and exercises will be done to assess the strength and mobility in these areas.

After the assessment

At the conclusion of each assessment, your osteo will give you exercises to complete at home to help gain the strength and mobility required for pointe. This is likely to happen gradually, as too many exercises too soon can be too much to handle. The osteo will then schedule a follow up assessment to check on your progress and assign new exercises. These follow ups could be anywhere from three weeks to three months apart, depending on what is required. Eventually, your osteo will sign you off on every criteria and you will be ready to buy your pointe shoes!

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Kathryn performing a pointe assessment on dancer

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