Dance Magazine, April, 1994 by Marian Horosko
Pointe work should not be attempted by a young or older dancer until the feet and legs are strong in demi-pointe exercises. That usually requires three or four years of regular technique classes. At that time, and if the teacher recommends it, pointe work may be incorporated at the end of technique class, beginning at the barre with eleve and releve movements with correct abaisse execution, and combinations using soussus, echappe, bourree, and passe pique movements. When the feet are properly placed in a straight line from pointe-to-knee-to-hip in order to support the body without injury to foot, ankle, or knee, the same exercises may be practiced in the center.
ELEVER TO RISE UP
A rise to full pointe without a preceding demi-plie. In this movement, the knees remain straight and pulled up as the dancer uses the muscles of the feet and legs to raise the body smoothly to full pointe. The toes remain in the same place on the floor. With equal control and knees still straight, the dancer then lowers through the feet to the heels.
When practiced facing the barre, this exercise can be done in Second Position on full pointe in soft shoes, giving the instructor a clearer idea of the student's readiness for pointe work. If the dancer in soft shoes can achieve full pointe without undue support from the barre, and without buckling the toes upon reaching the full pointe position, she is probably ready for pointe shoes. Male dancers may also practice this exercise to strengthen the feet. When eleves are performed on two feet in Second Position, the spine rises centered above the legs. When performed on one foot, the spine, and therefore the weight, shifts from the center and moves upward directly over the supporting pointe.
RELEVER TO SPRING UP
A movement that begins with a demiplie followed by a slight spring to full pointe and ends with a spring to descend into demi-plie.
In releve in Second or First Positions using both feet, the spine rises directly above its center starting position. In Fifth Position, the feet should move equally to form one line with only the heel of each foot exposed. In contrast to eleve, the toes are pulled along the floor with a small spring moving the feet slightly inward. The feet should move equally and at the same time, or there will be an incorrect sway from side to side. In the descent, the feet slide slightly outward along the floor to the starting position.
A releve on one foot follows the same rules, with the supporting foot sliding or pulled under the body to reach full pointe. To descend, the supporting foot slides out again to its starting position into demi-plie. The only releves in which the supporting foot does not return to its starting position are those in a series that are to be executed moving forward or backward.
ABAISSER TO DESCEND
Keeping the thighs taut and the knees straight after an eleve, the dancer descends from the full pointe by releasing to demi-pointe, then descending smoothly until the heels are on the floor.
PIQUER TO STEP ONTO
A movement in which the weight of the body is placed over one foot by stepping onto full pointe. It may be performed traveling in any direction.
In a traveling pique movement (such as pique passe en tournant--a series of turns on one foot), the working leg extends at 45 degrees, knee straight, toward the direction of travel. As the working leg extends, the supporting leg is in fondu position, the spine directly over the supporting leg. In a trajectory arc, the supporting leg in fondu position straightens to provide the impetus for the torso to move directly over and onto the straight extended leg, which then becomes the supporting leg. This is basically a shift-of-weight movement. It is important not to permit the working foot to dangle during the shift of weight. It should be placed immediately in a position, such as sur le cou-de-pied derriere or passe.
Enjoy your pointe work by not depending on a strong shoe, but on strong feet.
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