Dancers have issued a warning about the dangers of pressurising young ballerinas into going en pointe too soon.
Performers from the Royal Ballet, Washington Ballet and Staatsballet Berlin have joined forces to call on parents not to push their children into starting pointe work too soon.
The plea comes after the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) received several complaints from parents, whose children weren’t dancing en pointe at the same age as their peers. The organisation stressed that starting earlier doesn’t signal a “better dancer”.
The RAD said the earliest age a child should be dancing en pointe is 11, however, 12 or 13 is more common. They also advised that young dancers should have at least four years of solid training, and have matured physically and mentally before they are able to move onto the next stage.
Senior lecturer in ballet education at the RAD, Heulwen Price said that a range of factors must be considered by parents and teachers to ensure that a child is ready to progress, including “the age of the child, the state of the bone development, the overall strength of the body, the length of the training they’ve had, their body weight and also the attitude of the overall student”.
She added, “Starting too early can cause enormous damage. There’s absolutely no reason at all not to start later.”
The RAD has since called for more support for dance teachers in explaining this at the earliest stages of a child’s training to avoid disappointment and rivalry among peers.
Dancer Eliza Aber, who is backing the calls said, “Starting pointe at a younger age does not, in my opinion, make oneself a better dancer. I have met girls who began dancing en pointe at the age of eight and a decade later have been plagued with injuries, such as stress fractures and malformation of bones, which have inhibited their careers.”
Source: The Stage
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