The Effects of Improper Pointe Shoe Health and Practices: A Literature Synthesis
This research aims to examine the consequences of improper alignment and poor pointe shoe health and fit, to analyze extant research on what are recommended healthy pointe shoe practices, as well as to discuss the implications of allowing pre-pubescent students to dance in pointe shoes. In the form of a literature synthesis, various sources are presented to address conflicts, discrepancies, or similarities in order to compile and communicate the current knowledge of ballet injuries related to pointe work. This research found that taking extreme measures to break in pointe shoes causes decreased ability for the shoe to support the dancer, compromising stability in the foot and ankle. Wearing pointe shoes that are too worn-down or ‘dead’ can result in extreme stretching of the metatarsal ligaments, which proves dangerous to dancers. It is vital that dancers employ healthy practices with their pointe shoes in order to avoid injury. Additionally, teachers must establish their practices, while keeping health and safety in mind, to ensure that young dancers may continue to pursue dance for years to come. Teaching correct alignment and technique and monitoring and evaluating students properly is imperative for the safety of dancers. To provide a baseline on evaluating students, this study also explores a five-point objective test as a guide for teachers to determine a dancer’s readiness for pointe shoes. The expected results of this paper will allow dancers and educators to have a greater understanding of the physical damage and effects of pointe training and technique on a dancer’s body – in both the scientific and performing arts world.
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