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!