Men on Pointe

by David on March 16, 2010

Pointe dancing for men

Pointe shoes are one of the most famous pieces of attire in ballet. Pointe shoes have a strong, boxy front (called a box) which enables the dancer to balance on their toes. The heel of the shoes are secured by ribbons around the ankle. Pointe shoes are much more expensive than flat shoes. They can typically cost around $70.

The first thing you should know is that pointe shoes are not for beginners. Dancers do not start taking pointe until they have developed enough technique and strength to prevent injury. Even dancers who start ballet at a very young age, will often not go on pointe until they are around 12 years old, sometimes older.

The second thing you should know is that guys do not typically dance on pointe. I say typically, but that does not mean that guys can’t. Traditionally it is the female dancer that dances on pointe, the male staying on flat. In partnering, it is usually the girl who is on her toes, while the guy helps to support her and lift her. There are few traditional performances that require a male to dance on pointe.

However, there are many guys who decide to learn pointe. Dancing on pointe takes a lot of dedication, but is amazingly beautiful. A lot of guys desire to learn pointe because they enjoy expressing themselves in that style. Learning pointe can also help guys to build a tremendous amount of leg and foot strength, develop stronger foot technique, and better balance. Knowing how to dance pointe can also give guys a better sense of what the female partner requires in partnering. A guy who understands pointe could more quickly understand how to get a girl on balance, or keep her on balance during turns.

Still, a majority of male dancers never dance on pointe. The main reason is that there is a lack of performance opportunities for male pointe dancers. One of the few consistent opportunities for males to dance on pointe is the comedic, Les Ballets Trockadero Des Monte Carlo, also known as “The Trocks.” This parody ballet company features male dancers dressed as female ballerinas. While the Trocks are extremely talented, not all male dancers who dance on pointe want to dance in comedic drag.

Male pointe dancers will also have trouble finding shoes that are big enough for their feet, or that are not pink. If a guy’s feet are too big, they will have to usually special order a pair of pointe shoes. If they don’t want pink shoes, they may have to dye them or color them black with a marker.

Although dancing on pointe may strengthen feet and legs, and give guys a sense of the typically female side of partnering, learning pointe is so intense that it is often easier for men to find other ways build strength and technique. By continuing to practice partnering, male dancers will get a sense of what the girl on pointe requires.

As a male dancer, you will never be expected to dance on pointe. This comes as a relief to many male dancers, but some will still decide they want to learn. I admire these men and encourage them to continue exploring what interests them.

If you are interested in learning more about pointe, there are plenty of websites dedicated to information for girls, where you can find the basics. In an effort to support all male dancers, I will in time try to find and create more resources for male pointe dancers.

Leave comments if you are a pointe dancer, or are interested in it!

Be sure to also check out the Pointe Shoe T-Shirt by HD Wear!


{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Catherine March 17, 2010 at 11:36 pm

The pointe shoes t-shirt is fab!

Great post! I always thought that guys who learn pointe have big-time guts. Lots of blood and blisters. It’s not a fun ride….

2 Renan April 20, 2010 at 8:15 pm

Hi.

I just started taking ballet classes last year and now I decided to try on the pointe shoes. :D

It’s very amazing and besides the pain (now I understand girls’ complains after pointe shoes classes) I believe it will be a new phase in my ballet training.

3 Adrian May 18, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Tried it 9years ago, loved it. Its an amazing feeling dancing en pointe. I had a teacher who insisted I do pointe work, I protested but secretly I’d always wanted to dance in pointe shoes. I was cheered on by the girls. The teacher I dance with now is not as broadminded but if she requested I’d have my point shoes on, ribbins tied doing bourre’s and courru’s accross the floor.

4 Todd Wayne December 20, 2010 at 10:22 pm

I loved the article. I recently started dancing en pointe at the suggestion of an instructor I had over the summer. I was actually really excited; I was always jealous of the girls and their pointe shoes. It always seemed as though they were revered by everyone, including the teachers. The hardest part about dancing en pointe as a male is just our anatomical and physiological limitations. Mainly, our feet and ankles don’t hyper extend like our female counterparts and so we have to work a little harder and a little differently. Other than that, I’ve loved dancing en pointe. I’ve even had a few opportunities to perform en pointe (all of which were modern/contemporary pieces).
Nothing has ever gotten me such drastic improvements in turn out, foot extension, calf strength and elevation in leaps. Even my petite allegro has become more facilitated through pointe work.

5 Scott December 27, 2010 at 2:04 am

I just started dancing. I’m 39. How long did you guys study before you tried pointe? I’m eager to find out what it feels like.

Scott

6 mark February 19, 2011 at 12:55 pm

Hi all, I start my ballet career when i was 15 and still dancing at 40. My dream when i started was to dance on pointe, which i did on stage after 10 years of hard work…….. now in my 40th year it getting harder to maintain the stregth to continue, but while i can i will as i love the feeling and joy i get. The one thing all you guys must consider before inbarking on pointe work, is the damage it causes to your feet and toes, so feet look odd in sandals or open toes shoes. I am not to bad on pointe but the females look better and are better at pointe work.
Mark

7 JEROLD March 3, 2011 at 3:04 am

hi im 17 and im still not having my formal ballet training .. i really want to dance on pointe .. but because i know that this stuff is design for girls it makes me sad.. but this article makes me feel again to be on pointe someday as a male ballet dancer .. :D

8 JEROLD March 3, 2011 at 3:07 am

hi im 17 and im still not having my formal ballet training .. i really want to dance on pointe .. but because i know that this stuff is design for girls it makes me sad.. but this article makes me feel again to be on pointe someday as a male ballet dancer .. :D i love ballet ballet ballet and ballet

9 franklin guy April 4, 2011 at 10:53 pm

Male dancers learning pointe…There seems to be more and more boys wanting to take up pointe.

See these pictures on this website link:

http://www.dance.net/topic/9388424/1/Ballet-Photos-Misc/Pictures-on-Boys-Ballet-Dancers-on-Pointe-Shoes.html&replies=16

10 Sam June 10, 2011 at 3:58 pm

My dance teacher dosnt teach pointe to males it seems good but nobody wants to teach males

11 Ryan July 28, 2011 at 9:35 pm

I grew up dancing in an (amazing) studio that had just never had a boy. So, I learned ballet like a girl. When I was 7 (yes, 7, my teacher was old-fashioned and didn’t believe in letting bones finish growing- and I have crooked toes to prove it) I strapped on pointe shoes just like everyone else. When I was about 10 or 11 I began getting them dyed black. Never had trouble getting them in my size- men’s 8.5. Used to dance on Grishko Elites. I actually danced with a company of females in 10 seasons of The Nutcracker en pointe. Now that I am moving on to college, I’m worried and slightly embarrassed about being quite proficient at ballet but not having a clue in the world how to “dance like a man”.

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