Getty Images

How to Practice Pointework Safely at Home

We've rearranged our living rooms, commandeered office chairs for ballet barres, and we're doing our best with video classes streamed into our homes. But there's one element of your training that might feel particularly daunting without the familiarity of marley under your feet: pointework. To help you maintain your pointe training at home, we spoke with two experts on all of the dos, don'ts, and safety precautions to consider.


Stay Used to the Boots

Simply putting your pointe shoes on every day can help keep your feet in dancing shape. Former Pacific Northwest Ballet dancer and current PNB School teacher Carrie Imler tells students in her pointe classes, "The worst thing to do is let those feet get in their baby soft form again." She suggests walking around in your pointe shoes daily, just to keep your calluses.

Floor Focus

Not all floor surfaces are created equal, especially for pointework. Hardwood and tile floors are particularly slick and likely to cause slips and falls (though, Imler jokes, "you'll find out how much turnout you do or don't have on hardwood"). To give a little more grip, Imler has made do with an extra thin area rug with a nonstick rubber backing. Kat Bower, physical therapist for Miami City Ballet and host of dance medicine podcast The Dance Docs, suggests laying down a thin yoga mat for a little more grip.

Some retailers sell individual squares of vinyl dance mats. They're definitely helpful, but both experts agree that since you shouldn't be doing anything too advanced or flashy at home with your pointework, purchasing one isn't required.

Shoe Talk

Certain shoe hacks can counteract the slip factor. Bower suggests cutting the satin off the tip of your pointe shoes and scoring the leather sole with a pair of scissors. You can also darn the edges of the platform to prevent sliding. Spray rosin or hairspray can help make your shoes a little more tacky.

This might also be a good time to break in new shoes. Doing so requires only simple exercises that need minimal space, and the process will develop the muscles in your feet. "You're having to work a little bit harder through that [new] shoe," Bower explains, "so it might be a great way to get that little bit of extra strength."

Keep It Simple

Imler says that if you had pointe classes three days per week at your studio, that's enough for your home routine—you don't want to overdo it. Ideally, you'll have a teacher to guide you through video classes. If not, a series of relevés are a good place to start. "In parallel, first position, second, fifth, coupé to strengthen one leg," and doing all of those with both plié and on a straight leg, "can keep you pretty occupied for a good 20-30 minutes," Imler says.

Beyond that, stick to slow and controlled barre exercises: échappés, bourrées, pas de bourrées, gentle piqués. For more advanced students, Bower says that taking a regular ballet barre in your pointe shoes is relatively low-risk and will help you focus on shaping your foot. "Now is not the time to be working on multiple pirouettes," says Bower. "Now is really the time to focus on better balance, strength and stability within your body."

Latest Posts


Peter Mueller, Courtesy Cincinnati Ballet

2020 Stars of the Corps: 10 Dancers Making Strides In and Out of the Spotlight

The corps de ballet make up the backbone of every company. In our Fall 2020 issue, we highlighted 10 ensemble standouts to keep your eye on. Click on their names to learn more!

Dara Holmes, Joffrey Ballet

A male dancer catches a female dancer in his right arm as she wraps her left arm around his shoulder and executes a high arabesque on pointe. Both wear white costumes and dance in front of a blue backdrop onstage.

Dara Holmes and Edson Barbosa in Myles Thatcher's Body of Your Dreams

Cheryl Mann, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet

Wanyue Qiao, American Ballet Theatre

Wearing a powder blue tutu, cropped light yellow top and feather tiara, Wanyue Qiao does a piqu\u00e9 retir\u00e9 on pointe on her left leg and pulls her right arm in towards her.

Wanyue Qiao as an Odalisque in Konstantin Sergeyev's Le Corsaire

Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT

Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson, Houston Ballet

Three male dancers in tight-fitting, multicolored costumes stand in positions of ascending height from left to right. All extend their right arms out in front of them.

Joshua Guillemot-Rodgerson (far right) with Saul Newport and Austen Acevedo in Oliver Halkowich's Following

Amitava Sarkar, Courtesy Houston Ballet

Leah McFadden, Colorado Ballet

Wearing a white pixie wig and a short light-pink tunic costume, a female ballet dancer poses in attitude front on pointe with her left arm bent across her ribs and her right hand held below her chin.

Leah McFadden as Amour in Colorado Ballet's production of Don Quixote

Mike Watson, Courtesy Colorado Ballet

Maria Coelho, Tulsa Ballet

Maria Coelho and Sasha Chernjavsky in Andy Blankenbuehler's Remember Our Song

Kate Lubar, Courtesy Tulsa Ballet

Alexander Reneff-Olson, San Francisco Ballet

A ballerina in a black feathered tutu stands triumphantly in sous-sus, holding the hand of a male dancer in a dark cloak with feathers underneath who raises his left hand in the air.

Alexander Reneff-Olson (right) as Von Rothbart with San Francisco Ballet principal Yuan Yuan Tan in Swan Lake

Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB

India Bradley, New York City Ballet

Wearing a blue dance dress with rhinestone embellishments and a sparkly tiara, India Bradley finishes a move with her arms out to the side and hands slightly flexed.

India Bradley practices backstage before a performance of Balanchine's Tschaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 2.

Erin Baiano, Courtesy NYCB

Bella Ureta, Cincinnati Ballet

Wearing a white dress with pink corset, Bella Ureta does a first arabesque on pointe in front of an onstage stone wall.

Bella Ureta performs the Act I Pas de Trois in Kirk Peterson's Swan Lake

Hiromi Platt, Courtesy Cincinnati Ballet

Alejándro Gonzales, Oklahoma City Ballet

Dressed in a green bell-boy costume and hat, Alejandro Gonz\u00e1lez does a saut\u00e9 with his left leg in retir\u00e9 and his arms in a long diagonal from right to left. Other dancers in late 19-century period costumes watch him around the stage.

Alejandro González in Michael Pink's Dracula at Oklahoma City Ballet.

Kate Luber, Courtesy Oklahoma City Ballet

Nina Fernandes, Miami City Ballet

Wearing a long white tutu and crown, Nina Fernandes does a saut de chat in front of a wintery backdrop as snow falls from the top of the stage.

Nina Fernandes in George Balanchine's The Nutcracker

Alexander Iziliaev, Courtesy Miami City Ballet

Getty Images

Thinking About College Ballet Programs? Here's a Comprehensive Guide to the Application Process

Gone are the days when you had to skip college in order to have a successful ballet career. College ballet programs are better than ever before, providing students with the training, professional connections and performance experience they need to thrive in companies postgraduation. But given the number of elements involved in the application process, choosing the right program can feel daunting. We've broken the college application timeline down step by step to help you best approach each stage along the way.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Evelyn Cisneros-Legate. Photo by Beau Pearson, Courtesy Ballet West

Ballet West Academy's New Director on Dream Building During COVID-19

Evelyn Cisneros-Legate is bringing her hard-earned expertise to Ballet West. The former San Francisco Ballet star is taking over all four campuses of The Frederick Quinney Lawson Ballet West Academy as the school's new director.

Cisneros-Legate, whose mother put her in ballet classes in an attempt to help her overcome her shyness, trained at the San Francisco Ballet School and School of American Ballet before joining San Francisco Ballet as a full company member in 1977. She danced with the company for 23 years, breaking barriers as the first Mexican American to become a principal dancer in the U.S., and has graced the cover of Dance Magazine no fewer than three times.

As an educator, Cisneros-Legate has served as ballet coordinator at San Francisco Ballet, principal of Boston Ballet School's North Shore Studio and artistic director of after-school programming at the National Dance Institute (NDI). Dance Teacher spoke with her about her new position, her plans for the academy and leading in the time of COVID-19.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks