Although every teacher is different, the goals of the introductory pointe class are similar no matter where you dance. These goals include strengthening the feet and ankles, breaking in the pointe shoes, and learning proper execution of skills while wearing pointe shoes.
To strengthen the feet, your teacher may instruct in a variety of methods including demi-pointe work, exercises for the feet and ankles, and basic releves at the barre. Instruction may also be given for additional work that can be done outside of class to help you gain strength and skill.
Breaking in pointe shoes is simply the wording used to describe taking the shoe from its initial factory condition to where it is conformed to the shape of your foot. This may include some work with your shoe in hand softening hard spots and bending the shank. I highly suggest waiting for a teacher’s instruction before bending, softening, or attempting to break in the shoes. Doing so on your own may permanently damage or improperly break in the shoes.
In addition to manually softening the shoes, your feet will serve as your greatest break in tool. Simply doing releves will do much to help the shoes mould to your feet. Again, be careful about doing too much outside of your teacher’s watchful eye. Doing steps incorrectly in pointe shoes may cause the shoes to break in improperly or lead to an injury.
Lastly, a basic pointe class will include barre work and eventually center work doing the steps you already know. Plies, releves, tendus, jetes, and other basic technical steps will help you learn placement, understand positioning, and gain strength as you develop your pointe skills.
In an introductory pointe class, you may find yourself spending only a few minutes actually dancing in the shoes. Do not be alarmed. It takes dedication and time over the course of many months and years to develop a strong pointe technique. You will gain strength, increase grace, and expand your dancing horizons as you begin pointe. There will be blisters, frustration, and pain, but the beauty of the dance will always make it worthwhile!