There is nothing more satisfying for a young dancer (male or female) than the moment when the teacher announces that you can get on your Pointe shoes; and many of those kids are expecting for this to happen, sometimes too soon.
The answer should not be according to the "right time" (based on how long is the dancer practicing or how good is the teacher). The timing depends only on the physical preparation and development of the body.
What conditions should be accomplished to get the right decision?
The most important thing is the physical ability of the person to stand in such "abnormal" position. The skeleton gets ready for that as long as we "teach" the joints, bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons and nerves to work right to maintain the posture and being able to perform different elements on ballet regardless the time we are learning how to dance. Another component that should be carefully evaluated is the coordination, balance and the movement control of the dancer.
Getting to the decision of working on pointe is not a one side decision and is not a one-way decision either. Working on Pointe is a process, another stage in the dancer's education and it can - or it should be a personalized progression. The decision should be taken with the dancer, their parents (if they are kids) and a professional on dancers medicine.
What should we expect to be the physical condition optimal for Pointe?
The physical factors to be evaluated include:
1. Lower limb strengthening and flexibility, and the right balance between these two
2. Core control
3. Fast reaction to sudden positional changes
4. Plyometric skills
5. Body composition (here needs to be remarked that the body composition is critical for everything in life especially for professional dancers).
6. General balance and coordination
All these factors are generally beeing developed for dancing between the age of 3-4 years old until 12 years old. These ages are a gross average and - as said before - this is a very personal progress and the young dancer might be developed these skills before or sometimes later of this age.
Do orthopedic conditions affect the timing?
Absolutely. Previous orthopedic dysfunctions or conditions do not necessarily become an obstacle for life in any situation. It just needs to be evaluated and adjusted to the dancer and a specific set of exercises can sometimes improve the performance and lead to the next step, including working on Pointe.
Contrary, if an orthopedic condition is not taken into consideration, the work on Pointe in some cases can lead to the end of the dance career.
In our clinic, we evaluate dancers for postural dysfunctions in order to prevent injuries and allow a smooth transition from the Tennis shoes to the Pointe shoes.