Can men dance en pointe

Dear Colin
What sort of training is required for male dancers who are required for a role to dance en pointe? I don’t mean like the Trocks do, where presumably they would have the same (or similar) pointe training to any girl who is starting as part of a regular ballet course. I’m thinking more of the roles such as Bottom in Midsummer Night’s Dream, which I believe is traditionally danced in pointe shoes. If it’s just for a small role, would the dancer be expected to spend months just doing rises before eventually graduating to pointe shoes?
I’m curious to know!

Dear Jen
Yes, on occasion male dancers are required to dance en pointe. The Australian Ballet has Ashton’s Midsummer Night’s Dream in our repertoire, in which the Rustic, Bottom, dances en pointe as a donkey; we also have Stanton Welch’s Cinderella, in which both of the the ugly sisters are played by men who are required to dance en pointe.

All these roles require quite a lot of preparation, because although male dancers are strong, they are heavier and they have a slightly different centre of balance. Pointe work if attempted without proper preparation can cause serious ankle, knee and calf injuries so the male dancers who are cast for these roles prepare in exactly the same way as our female dancers. Slow rises to gain the correct articulation of the feet and fast rises to strengthen the ankles. I must say that the other thing these males learn is a greater respect for our female dancers for being able to make pointework look so effortless.
Believe me it is not!

You can email your ballet questions to Colin at [email protected]