Participation in pointe classes is determined by the instructor who may take into consideration previous experience and strength. There are exceptions and individual circumstances, but generally, candidates are given consideration starting at 10 1/2 years of age when they are attending 3 or more classes a week and show particular technical strengths and control of their balance and movements. Pointe classes are not mandatory as some students have physical reasons for not taking pointe. In these situations, non-pointe students are welcome to participate in the classes, completing exercises on flat technique shoes. Students, parents, and the instructor will consult together to find the best style and fit of shoe for the dancer's particular shape of foot and structural needs to accomplish movements on pointe while maintaining alignment in the legs and the spine. Pointe work is a serious undertaking, not without discomfort. It is one of the highest aesthetic achievements of the ballet dancer's efforts and is treated with caution and care at the studio to ensure that dancers progress safely and joyfully through their training.