Ballet en Pointe is a term generally used to describe the part of ballet dancing referred to as pointe. Pointe technique is actually only part of the whole ballet dance; point is often used to contrast with other forms, such as gliding and cavorte, and it requires much more technical skill than other forms of pointe. In fact, even though Pointe is quite demanding physically, it is also very demanding mentally. It requires a large amount of finesse and grace – this is partly because it requires so much physical coordination, and also because it is so difficult to learn and exact, that there are many people who never get around to learning Pointe properly, or even at all!
En Pointe is a difficult form of pointe work that many dancers try to master, but few are successful at. This is because most ballet dancers are not born with the skills needed to offer excellent Pointe work and, as such, must study and practice their craft diligently for many years in order to perfect their skills. Ballet dancers who make it to the final stage of en Pointe competitions are usually those who have worked incredibly hard over many years and have learned all there is to know about Pointe and the dancing style itself. The majority of en Pointe competitors, however, only do it once. This is because their first ballet classes were spent in ballet schools that offered introductory courses in ballet en Pointe.
In order to understand what makes en Pointe so demanding, it’s important to remember that pointe works off the floor, using both the muscles and the joints of the body in order to give the dancer the appearance of floating. The muscles are often extremely tense, and as the dancer steps into the shoe, they contract sharply, holding the body rigid and immobile. This results in a unique dance – one where the dancer thinks they are merely floating, whilst the tension that holds the body rigid continues to hold them immobile. Ballet Pointe dancers spend years practicing the many difficult en Pointe techniques in order to perfect their technique and their body. Not all dancers, however, can spend years practicing this form of ballet, which is why many of them choose to take dance classes instead.