Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ballet Parents Worry About Eating Disorders - Or, Disordered Eating

Ballet parents - I have written an article about disordered eating and hypoglycemia that you may find interesting.

Hypoglycemia is an insidious condition that can show up as symptoms of depression, anxiety, mood swings, fatigue - general unhappiness. It is good to read about this, because diet will correct it and return enthusiasm and well being to some individuals, without further complication.

Not that any of the above symptoms should not be investigated along other ideas, but in the spirit of keeping things simple, it is useful to get some knowledge about hypoglycemia. If it is present, the other remedies are not going to work well anyway.

I know ballet parents want to do the best they can for their dancing an introduction to hypoclygemia and see if it applies to your dancers.

I highly recommend The Perfect Pointe Parent's Manual  for more about disordered eating and other dance parents worries.

The Perfect Pointe Parent's Manual

Monday, November 28, 2011

Ballet Class Beginners

Pointe shoes are the goal when you get into ballet, either as a child or an adult ballet classes beginner. So how can you get ahead and aim to be the best in the ballet class beginners?

What if this is not a realistic goal for you?

The Perfect Pointe Book will show you how to get as close to executing the best barre exercises as you possibly can.

I say, set your focus on it. Your first couple of years in ballet training is to learn the exactly correct technique so that the repetition of thousands of plies, battements tendus and all the other ballet barre exercises, is fulfilling your goal.

I always knew which students were willing to learn on their own - in regards to understanding correct ballet technique - their progress with the difficult physical challenges of ballet was noticeable.

Pointe Shoes

Everything you do in ballet slippers, you will eventually dance in pointe shoes. You need to be strong enough, and technically accurate.

Get yourself the:

  • correct information about ballet technique
  • charts with which to self-test and chart your progress

Can you be the best in class? I don't know that, but I do know you can be the best you can possibly be, with the help of The Perfect Pointe Book.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

First Pointe Shoes

The incredible variety of pointe shoe brands, and the confusing array of shapes within these brands, makes buying your first pointe shoes quite a challenge.

Parents of ballet class beginners reading this, please understand the cost of this financial investment at stake here. If you worry about whether or not your dancing daughter is prepared for pointe, you should get her The Pointe Book.

 The Pointe Book

Pointe shoes are not to be grown into. They must fit like a glove, to be blunt. If your daughter has a high hypermobile arch, shoes will broken completely, in a few classes. This changes as your child's foot muscles get strong, and the ballet barre exercises that ballet class beginners should know, will hasten the process.

A student's first pointe shoes fitting should not be rushed. If an experienced fitter or your ballet teacher is present, that is a real help. (Not all ballet stores have experienced fitters.)

Your child's foot shape must be examined. The length and evenness or tapering of toes, the width across the metatarsals, the height of the arch, and the depth of the foot must all be fitted correctly. Ill fitting shoes can contribute to sprains and permanent injuries.

Before you get to the pointe shoes, consider shoe padding.

 pointe shoe padding

This will take up space in the shoe. The variety of gel pads, toe length adaptors, toe tips and all the other things are wonderful, but you must use them to fit the shoe.

The boxes, or space in the shoe for the toes, of pointe shoes come in tapered shapes, and square shapes. They must fit so that the foot does not sink into, or slide around inside the box.

A longer second toe usually requires a slightly tapered, narrow to medium box, but there are no hard and fast rules. A longer big toe may also feel more comfortable in a tapered box, but every shape of shoe must be tried on.

Dancers should wear their tights when fitting pointe shoes.

You can check the vamp needed by rising up to 3/4 pointe, to see if the shoe break is where your metatarsal joints are. Too high a vamp will impede the foot movement, and too low a vamp will not provide support.

The stiffness of the shank you need will be determined by the arch height and ankle flexibility. You should be able to get up onto the platform, the end of the shoes,fully, so that you are not leaning back into the box. The shank must give support, but not provide so much resistance that you can't work properly.
Ballet toe shoes will break in, and keep breaking in until suddenly they are worn out!

That's the life of a pointe shoe.

When you are up on pointe, there should be about 1/4 inch of fabric at your heel. If there is none, the shoe is too short. If there is more, the shoe is too long.

Also, if you do a demi-plie, and your toes are mashed into the box, hurting, the shoe is too short, too narrow, or both.

The vamp should not gape or wrinkle - neither should the sides. There should be equal pressure from the shoe all over the foot.

I've tried to keep these articles fairly short - but like your first few fittings - time, patience and detail is needed.

Here are a couple of wonderful references I have found; is a detailed article written by a pointe shoe fitter is a graphic table of pointe shoe brands with specifications. It is an excellent guide to start with before you shop.

An expertly written ballet dancer's guide with all the necessary details will help you find exactly the right fit in your first pointe shoes with The Pointe Book's detailed instructions.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ballet Pointe Work And Ballet Barre Exercises

Ballet students want to build muscle power so they can do ballet pointe work as soon as possible. And they can build ballet muscles faster if they truly understand how their ballet barre exercises develop their professional footwork.

Consider this: every ballet movement where your foot leaves a closed position, usually fifth position, and ends in a pointed foot position, on or off the floor, uses your tiny intrinsic (in the foot exclusively) foot muscles. Just at the barre you do:

* battement tendu
* battement degage
* battement picque
* ronde de jambe
* ronde de jambe en l'air
* grand battement
* developpe

In each of these exercises, your foot goes from a closed, or flat on the floor position, to a pointed position.

Every single ballet movement is an opportunity to use your foot muscles properly. 

As you leave a closed position, you pretend your leg is getting longer, elastic down the back. You push down into the floor, creating RESISTANCE to your gliding movement.

If your body position is stable, then the RESISTANCE is the part of the muscular effort that develops strength. Both in your foot muscles, and in your postural muscles of the spine and hips, which keep your body upright.

  • In a battement tendu, you end in a pointed foot position on the floor (a terre).
  • In a battement degage, you allow the foot to leave the floor, but only so far
  • In a battement picque, you degage, and then bounce the toes off the floor one time, maintaining the point.
  • In a ronde de jambe a terre (on the floor) you close into first, RESISTING and pushing into the floor with the sole of the foot, and RESISTING and pushing the into the floor with the foot as you leave first position to the next open position.
  • In grand battement, you leave the closed position, quickly, with pressure into the floor.
  • In developpe, you leave fifth position, pushing into the floor with your foot muscles, as opposed to just lifting the foot up.

That's a lot of work! All in those tiny ballet foot muscles.

Imagine the power you have when you push off the floor to jump. Of course your thighs and calves are pumping.

But the very last thrust from the floor is from your feet and the ends of your toes!

There is your quality. A quick, sharp, exit from gravity.

If you are a dedicated ballet dancer, feeling impatient to do ballet pointe work, you can learn more about all your ballet barre exercises by getting your own copy of The Perfect Pointe Book.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Stretches For Ballet (Or Other) Dancing Moves

Ballet warm up exercises are good for contemporary dance classes, jazz dance classes, hip hop dance classes, and cheer leading. Ballet is common to many dance forms. The classical technique is geared toward preventing dance injuries, facilitating turnout, and utilizing the best stretching and warm up.

Warm Up Stretches For Your Dance Class

Most dance classes start with warming up the lower leg and foot muscles. Whether you start with legs parallel or turned out, getting your demi plie and sole of the foot muscles ready to dance will enhance your class work.

“Prances”, a time tested exercise.

Done at the barre, or in the center, here is a simple and effective warm up move.

If you are working with legs parallel, remember to rotate your thighs so that the knees are over the toes, and not swinging in (which is natural).

Engage your core muscles to support your posture, and relax your shoulders and neck.

Rise slowly onto your demi pointe, carrying your upper body forward over your toes.

Start pressing (rather than just letting go of the muscles) down slowly onto the left (or right, as you prefer) foot, bending the other knee and staying on demi pointe on the bent-knee side.

Continue into your demi plie, foot held on the floor, until you get a stretch in that calf, and reach your deepest possible position. PRESS upwards through your flat position to your demi pointe, check your spinal posture, and check again that your legs are a true parallel, not with knees swinging in.

Repeat slowly and carefully a few times, changing sides. Then gradually speed up until you are “prancing”. Your toes may never leave the floor, or you may accelerate to a real prancing motion.

Most importantly, you are warming up your lower leg and sole of the foot muscles, your turnout muscles (even if you are not turning out), and your core muscles that are stabilizing your pelvis position, and properly curved spinal position.

It's almost a full body workout!

And of course your quads and hamstrings are contributing to the control of the movements.

Next, lie down on the floor. Some ab crunches will further warm those muscles and continue to accelerate your metabolism, getting you ready for class.

(You may want to put a small rolled towel under your head, or not. Lying on your back with legs bent, and feet flat on the floor, you will start your ab crunches. Some dancers like to do one hundred tiny quick crunches, range of motion very small – one to two inches.)

Other dancers may have learned the super-slow-motion type of ab contraction, moving one to three inches very slowly, and back down, up to ten times maximum.

Either way, you are warming up those muscles. If you feel you need to, put one hand behind your head. While not contributing to the ab crunch, you can support your head a little.

Stand up again, and you are going to do some fairly quick prances – this time with a pumping motion, accompanied by arm swings. You can do full circle swings front to back, and then reverse, back to front. As you pump, you will be relieving tension in the neck and shoulders, and loosening up the shoulder joints.

Literally swing the arms, do not work on this.

Now your cardio-vascular system is quickened, and in just a few minutes.

At this point you can use the ballet barre, or sit on the floor to stretch your hamstrings, (back of the thighs) adductors (inner thighs) and large back muscles (quadratus lumborum).

For hamstrings:

Put one leg on the lower barre; or seated, bend one leg, straighten the other in front of you .

Keeping the back straight, bend from the hip joint, and lean over an inch or two; same sitting on the floor, lean over the stretched leg, not much range of motion, and press the back of the leg into the floor.

This is a very gentle, low force stretch to prepare for class, only.

Sitting in second position on the floor, you will feel the stretch in your adductors, or inner thighs. You may just want to sit there and pull up your very lowest ab muscles, straightening your pelvis. You may then bend forward slightly, exerting a tiny pull on your adductors. You can stretch harder later.

Pressing your right thigh into the floor, bend sideways away from it, reaching over your head toward your left leg, an elongated movement. Relax over there, and then return, and repeat on the other side.

These stretching and warming up moves are just one example of how you can ready for your dance class.

You will have your own priorities, depending on your physique and the style of dance you are studying in each class.

Buy this DVD and get some more tips about stretches for ballet.

 Essentrics Flexibility Workout For Athletes

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Ballet Pointe Toe Shoes - Do You Know Your Ballet Barre Exercises?

Almost every dance student starts ballet because they want to dance in ballet pointe toe shoes. They know they will have to work hard to get their foot muscles strong enough for the beautiful pink satin toe shoes.

Adult ballet beginners know they may not get into toe shoes but most are willing to try.

The Perfect Pointe Book makes this easier for both the young and old ballet beginner.

It is a given that each wants to find the best ballet teacher in their area. And a dance academy that has a pleasant encouraging atmosphere.

How can a ballet beginner get closer to being ready for pointe shoes?

At home, pre-pointe exercises can be learned and practiced six days a week. Always have a day of rest.

But bear in mind that the ballet barre exercises you do in every class, also get you ready to dance in pointe shoes

Every ballet position and exercise prepares you to dance en pointe. Understanding correct posture (which is natural posture of the spine), just to start, will help you get the best ballet position in plies, tendus, and all the ballet exercises done at the barre.

Correct ballet positions use your core muscles perfectly – pulling up the lower abdominal muscles. Holding in your stomach as you breathe adequately. Does this help you prepare for ballet toe shoes? Oh yes!

Understanding that flexibilty stretches, done with comprehension, relax and tone your muscles – yes, this too gets you more prepared to dance in toe shoes.

 flexibility exercises for dancers and athletes

And, yes there is more!

Very special exercises that isolate and strengthen the foot muscles, those little tiny muscles that are particular to the sole of the foot.

When the sole of the foot muscles get strong, the muscles of the lower legs -the calf and shin muscles – get a relief from over-exertion. This can prevent shin splints and Achilles Tendon inflammation.

When the sole of the foot muscles get strong and sensitive, ballet foot control will be better in releves, and jumps – and for pointe work!

And THEN when you go to buy pointe shoes, you will be ready!

Whatever you can do in soft shoes, you will be able to do in pointe shoes. Of course it will take some getting used to. I recommend that buy The Perfect Pointe Book and learn how to be ready for pointe shoes sooner.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ballet Positions, Ballet Techniques and Ballet Movements

There is an enormous amount of information in print, on DVD and via ebooks, about ballet positions, ballet movements and ballet techniques. Much of it is beautifully presented.

Ballet photography goes way back to the late 19th century and has preserved precious images of early ballerinas and premier danseurs. Going even earlier in ballet history, there are excellent drawings of ballet stars, ballet classes, and ballet masters.

It's fantastic that now we can view productions from ballet companies all around the world on DVD. For ballet fans who are not in a major city that is visited regularly by ballet companies, this is especially handy.

There is so much to look at, and how can we pick and choose what to learn from? Of course ballet is taught by a live ballet teacher, not from an ebook or DVD.

But between classes there is opportunity to understand class lessons better, or study certain ballet positions or movements that may be difficult.

The Cecchetti method of ballet, the Royal Academy of Dancing and the Vaganova method are the three best known methods of teaching ballet. Most major full time professional ballet schools combine these styles, not necessarily by using all three grading systems, but by employing staff and guest teachers who have a well rounded training themselves.

The Auguste Bournonville choreographic tradition shows up a lot in the Cecchetti grades, as just one example of how classical choreography has become embedded in training.

If you are interested in starting ballet, find out what schools in your area teach a syllabus (grading) system, or if they do not, what is the background of the teachers. Retired professionals do not always teach from one of these three systems, yet can be excellent at teaching from their own training.

If you are training to dance simply for your own enjoyment, you may or may not like the pressure of ballet exams - yet, it is part of the discipline in most schools. Whatever your preference, check around and find the right school for you.

If you are taking ballet for weight loss and you are on the right diet, you won't be disappointed. Ballet classes burn a fair amount of calories, and also help build muscle. Since muscles burn calories all by themselves, even when you are sleeping, gaining muscle mass is very healthy. Ballet is also good exercise for healthy bones as well.

Dance injuries are usually the result of sloppy technique or too much muscle tension. Work as accurately as you can, and if you are having trouble with a ballet position or movement, do not be shy. Ask for help. For one thing, repeatedly practicing a ballet movement incorrectly will lead to increased muscle tension.

If you are a curious student and want to know the ins and outs of the mechanics of ballet movements, and what would be anatomically correct, get one of the ballet books written on functional anatomy.

 Inside Ballet Technique

It will help you sort out how to improve ballet positions and movements. Not everything in ballet is anatomically correct, and details about that is good for you to know.

Whatever ballet technique you choose to study, always enjoy the movements that you do more easily, learn ballet positions for pointe shoes, and take good care of yourself.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Pointe Shoe Exercises Need Strong Ballet Turnout

 Increase Your Ballet Turnout


Pointe shoe exercises illustrate the weaker points in your ballet technique, most commonly, your turnout.

The positive side to this is that while you practice pre pointe strengthening exercises, or pointe beginner exercises, your turnout will inevitably improve. There is no grip on the floor when you are standing on full pointe. If your turnout is weak, your legs will swivel in easily.

While it may at first be a disappointment that you need to increase your turnout more than you thought, you will see and feel results quickly by adding just a couple of practice exercises, which I will describe below.

Before You Buy Pointe Shoes - A Simple Exercise

This exercise challenges your ballet position, your turnout and your core strength. Standing in front of a mirror, legs parallel, and hands on your hips, lift one leg to a position about half way between cou de pied and retire.

Watch that the standing foot is not clutching at the floor, and if it is, get your weight placed properly so that the arch muscles are working but not clenched. Your toes should be long and flat on the floor.

Try a demi plie, sustaining your position. If your turnout and core muscles are strong enough, you won't swing around in either direction, stoop forward or tilt back. If this is a problem for you, simply perform ten or twenty a day, and use a barre if necessary at first. You will improve! (Do equally on each side).

If this is easy for you, do some press ups in the same position, without the barre. Feel your rotator muscles holding your turnout, which means you should be able to turnout without gripping your gluteal (butt) muscles. These large muscles will naturally work to support your ballet positions and movements, but clenching them will actually decrease the rotation of your thighs, due to excess tension.

This simple exercise will illustrate to you how much you need to increase the strength of your turnout.

In Your Pointe Shoes - How To Increase Your Control

This exercise is also extremely simple and will improve your rotation strength. You will need barre for this if you are a pointe beginner. Start legs parallel, and rise onto pointe.

Turn your legs out, and hold the position firmly for ten seconds. Then turn the legs in again. Don't let go of the muscles allowing the legs to turn in, but consciously rotate them inwards, stopping exactly parallel. The difference is that if you let go of your turnout, your legs will most likely turn inwards past parallel.

(Commonly, when feet are parallel, knees will swing in slightly. Most dancers need to activate their rotator muscles to have a firm parallel position.)

In toe shoes, you will feel how easy it is to lose your turnout. In any foot position, your feet can swivel on that tiny platform.

So there you have two uncomplicated exercises you can do six days a week to improve. Always relax when you need to, and simply resume the exercise. A great ballet stretch to do after these exercises is to sit on a chair, and cross one foot over the other thigh, your bent leg relaxed and turned out.

Keeping the spine straight, bend forward slightly. You will feel a deep stretch of the hip and rotator muscles that will release the tension accumulated by your hard work.

These two pointe beginner exercises can make a big difference for you. After a month, you will probably see a huge difference in your ability. Get "Tune Up Your Turnout"!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Dancers' Ballet Tips - Pointe Shoes, And Sizing The Compressible Foot Type

For pointe shoe sizing, a few details need to be learned so you can buy pointe shoes that suit your foot type the best. Following are a few ballet tips to help.

(For pre-pointe exercises, get The Perfect Pointe Book).

Sizing pointe shoes can be tricky in certain areas. For example, one is the kind of foot called "compressible".

All feet are, to a degree, meaning that you can force your feet into short or pointed shoes, and they will compress.

Yet, there is a foot type that is more compressible than ordinary, and this foot needs a special tapered box in the toe shoes. Even a foot that is wide across the metatarsal joints might be more compressible in a pointe shoe, causing problems when you first go to buy pointe shoes.

Generally a wider foot needs a square shaped box, but the compressible foot functions better in a tapered box. When the wide foot presses up onto pointe, and compresses in the shoe, it will slide down into a wide box.

It is very difficult to keep the toes long in this situation. The toes will buckle, and blister or painful bruised toenails can result.

The box of the toe shoe is meant to support the foot by hugging the toes to help the dancer keep the toes long, and work with strength in the metatarsal area of the foot as well.

Sizing ballet shoes is difficult for pointe beginners, with the many variations in the box area, vamp length, and stiffness of the shanks.

Yet, with so many shoes to try on, the abundance of choice, even if frustrating, does allow you to eventually find just the right shoe to dance your best in. If you have not done this before, stand on paper and draw the outline of both feet.

Take note of the shape of your feet when they are bearing your weight. Some feet may be narrow at the heel and get wider toward the toes.

If this is the case for you, you can always get heel grips to glue inside your pointe shoes, as you cannot compromise with a too narrow shoe.

When you do a demi plie in a small second position, your feet must have room to spread in the shoe. While the shoes must be snug, it should not be painful at the ends of the toes when you plie.

Not being able to plie completely in your toe shoes, will cause problems with tension in the feet, ankles and lower leg area. It will also weaken all your releves if you cannot reach the depth of your demi plie and have a firm push up from the heels.

Hopefully you will have done lots of pre pointe exercise in the months before you buy your first pointe shoes. It can be frustrating if your teacher does not think you are ready and makes you wait, yet learning to prepare for dancing en pointe makes it a much easier transition when you finally start pointe classes.

Ultimately, your feet will control your new hard shoes, and not the other way around. Bending the heel end of the sole, (with your hands), about an inch at the most, so that the pressure from your weight won't break the sole at your arch, will help ease your movement in new shoes.

So when you first try on pointe ballet shoes, notice how the shoe supports and hugs your toes when you rise. If a snug fitting shoe feels too big or too wide, with your foot sliding down into the box, you may have that compressible foot, and you should try a tapered shoe.

If you are not completely certain that you have done all that you can to prepare for pointe, get The Perfect Pointe Book and get started!.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ballet Exercises - Over 40 - Over 50 - Choose Ballet!

The Benefits Of Ballet Exercises

Classical dance exercises refine your reflexes, and build neural pathways.

Whether you are a child or are an adult ballet beginner, ballet work will challenge your brain. Its unusual approach to movement will sharpen and hone those neurological functions, which will enhance your balance and response time to unexpected day-to-day moments.

Over forty, over fifty or over sixty? Go ahead! Choose ballet!

The exertion it offers will increase your bone density and relieve your heart muscle's work as it strengthens your leg/hip/back muscle groups. In other words, you will be able to run for the bus!

I may seem to be wandering from the point here, but no... ballet class exercises are for the many (anyone who loves it) AND the few (those whom ballet calls - to entrance the rest of us).

Ballet syllabus exercises, be they R.A.D., Cecchetti, or Vaganova, are configured for the ideal ballet body type. Yet, an experienced teacher can take various body types and show you - "this is how YOU will do this, to get the same visual result".

Is this cheating? No! It's called technique.

With a little of the art of illusion thrown in.

Every dance student will have their own problem with ballet. Whether it is ballet turnout, getting higher leg extensions, getting more flexibility in the ankle joint - whatever - everyone has a problem with ballet - that can be resolved!

So When Can I Start In Pointe Shoes?

Your years in dancing, age, natural ability, foot strength and talent will determine this. Every ballet exercise you do contributes to you eventually dancing in ballet toe shoes.

Every single battement tendu is a pre-pointe exercise.

Every rise, releve or saute done with correct posture (nothing different than the normal) is a pre-pointe exercise.

You want to dance in pointe shoes?

Every exercise you do in every ballet class is a pre-pointe exercise. Every single class will prepare you to dance en pointe.

If you want to know more about pointe shoes exercises, buy yourself THE POINTE BOOK.

 The Pointe Book

Sunday, February 27, 2011

For Men In Ballet Too - Details About Diet And Better Ballet Foot Control

This article is mainly concerned with the ballet foot control that you need before getting onto pointe, or advancing in ballet classes. You can do daily exercise and you will get strong!

Here is a test to check your real strength and control:

  • keep the legs parallel, face the mirror, and rise up and down slowly keeping the weight in the middle of your feet, so there is no sickling in or out.
  • if your ankles are wobbly, be aware of your sole-of-the-foot-muscles, check if they are working
  • take note that you are holding your turnout muscles even in this parallel position, as most knees roll in a little if not held in line.

This movement must be strengthened before poise, arm position, toe shoes, pirouettes, etc., is of any concern.

Once you are sure that you can feel that your ankles are lined up in exactly the right place, go back to first position for your slow motion releves.

If you cramp right away, on your first rise, then your muscles are weak.

Calf muscles will overwork if your intrinsic foot muscles are weak. There are specific pre-pointe exercises, to strengthen those tiny foot muscles.

Having taught many men in ballet, I recommend The Perfect Pointe Book for boys/men as well as for girls/women who want to do their best in pointe classes.

Cramping has other causes also such as dehydration and loss of electrolytes. Calcium and magnesium deficiency will lead to cramped muscles. You need all 12 of the cell salts to maintain your electrolytes. A good sea salt will help, kelp, other sea weed, or homeopathic 'bioplasma' or 'all 12' tablets.

And of course, good proteins, lots of raw or lightly steamed green vegetables and salads, and fruits are mandatory.

Did I say mandatory? Yes, I did! Your bones and muscles are MADE from what you eat. And so is your nervous system that your bones and muscles depend on.

When you are exhausted from practice, soak in Epsom Salts, then put on your favorite ballet DVD.

Inspiration is important, and seeing yourself in your mind's eye, dancing in pointe shoes, or leaping high and spinning, is a good thing to do while you rest.

And for better ballet foot control, click here for The Perfect Pointe Book.

Ballet Positions Ballet Pointe Shoes And Daily Pointe Shoe Exercise

I talk to young and adult ballet beginner dance students and the questions I get asked most commonly relate to:

  • getting onto pointe and finding the right pointe shoes

  • get more flexible - especially doing the splits

  • cannot get to enough classes in a week to advance more quickly

  • concerns about good diet and body weight/shape

When to start taking dance classes in professional pointe ballet shoes is an ongoing discussion.

Basic technique for ballet positions has to be very strong before you can do pointe work. Posture and turnout must be correct and strong.

Here is one thing you can do just as a self-test, to determine how your strength is developing.

Either at the dance studio or at home, stand next to the mirror in first or fifth position, so that you are looking at yourself sideways. With arms in fifth-en-avant (I'm speaking Cecchetti here) slowly press up onto 3/4 pointe.

  • do you have any difficulty maintaining your correct posture and turnout?

  • do your ankles wobble toward your big toe or your little toe?

  • do you cramp right away?

  • can you keep your shoulders and neck relaxed?

  • can you do some simple port-de-bras without losing balance?

  • can you slowly press down through flat to a demi-plie, and then do several of these slow-motion releve maintaining your poise?

The exercise I just described is just a teeny sample of self tests that you get in  THE PERFECT POINTE BOOK.

You will get well organized progress charts to map your advancement toward dancing in pointe shoes!

You will love getting control over your ballet positions while doing pointe shoe exercise.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Pointe Shoes Beginners

Pointe shoes beginners -  just standing in them, is like standing on a wobble board. Which for a pre pointe exercise, you could use. What is a wobble board?

It is a board that physio therapists and chiropractors might have in their office, for you to stand on, and wobble. As you wobble, you will use your sole of the foot and ankle area muscles to compensate for the wobble, and thereby keep you on balance.

After you buy pointe shoes, and just stand in them on one leg, you will feel like you are standing on a wobble board.

Hey, did anyone warn you about this? Well, I am, right now.

But I also am going to tell you how to get "un-wobbly", right now.

If your ballet turnout is strong, you can do this exercise in a turned out position. If you are a ballet beginner, even an adult ballet beginner, you can do this exercise in a parallel position.

The position is, cou de pied. or neck-of-the-foot, or working foot big toe on the supporting leg's ankle bone.

You may start holding something for a ballet barre, if you like.

Arms can be held out in front, or you can put your hands on your hips.

Your chance at being on balance will be greater if your hips are level.

Once in this position, and feeling on balance, close your eyes.

If your supporting ankle wobbles, that's okay. Just keep trying to get control of the wobble.

In soft leather ballet shoes, you are well connected to the surface of the floor.

In pointe shoes, the sole of the shoe is slightly bowed, meaning it is really easy for your supporting foot to rock back and forth.

I recommend a fantastic book for pointe shoes beginners that I believe will help you progress in ballet!

(With lots of exercises and self-tests designed to get you strong in pointe shoes!)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ballet Pointe Exercises To Do With The Very Flexible Ankles For Ballet Pointe

This particular one of the ballet pointe exercises can be done right from the beginning of ballet training, for both the young and the adult ballet beginner. If you have highly flexible ankle joints, or "banana" feet, your are the envy of all those ballet dancers who don't.

Yet they do not have to work as hard as you do for strength and foot control in pointe shoes.

You can practice this simple pointe shoe exercise at home every day, (well, rest one day), even if buying ballet toe shoes is still a couple of years away for you.

Ballet teachers, you can teach this right now to your dance students who have hyper-mobile ankle joints.

The "banana" foot in ballet is one which is very flexible at the ankle, and in all the foot joints. The shape is much admired, yet is problematic for many working with these fashionable feet.

The exercise is simply this:

  • in a small second position, rise onto demi pointe, but not all the way. 
  • stop when the ankle joint is in line with the toe joints. 

Normally, you would keep going, and your ankle joint would be arched out in front of your toe joints.

Use a mirror if you cannot feel this position, you will have to get used to it, as you develop the muscle memory.

Now do a small, slow demi plie, without changing the position of your ankle joints.

Straighten and plie again, eight times, then press down and relax with a demi plie, or shake your legs out before you start again.

I recently heard from a teacher who has a student whose feet are so flexible, she cannot even find a pointe shoe to work in.

Usually it is the dancers who want to get more flexible in the ankles who may be told "you simply cannot dance in pointe shoes".

If you are already taking pointe classes, you would press up, stopping when you are completely on the platform, or end of the pointe shoe, but with the ankle joints over the platform, not pressing forward to your full arch.

You will now plie, not deeply, holding the position of the ankle and foot firmly. And repeat as above.

This is the position you would do hops on pointe in. 

While your working foot is beautifully pointed, your supporting foot must hold this position, without fail.

Students in contemporary dance classes would benefit from this as well. Ballet foot control prevents dance injuries. When the time comes to buy dance pointe shoes, you can be ready!


(cite Fair use of this image owned by The National Ballet of Canada).

Notice the difference in the supporting foot and the presented foot, performed by Karen Kain, with Frank Augustyn in Giselle.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ballet Pointe Shoes - Get Foot Control For The Forefoot Area

Dancing in ballet pointe shoes requires special training aside from your ballet barre exercises. Working the foot, pressing it into the floor for resistance in all your battements tendus and any brushing type of foot movement, builds up strength in the foot and lower leg.

Yet there is a part of your foot between the heel/ankle area, and the toes, that can be strengthened further.

Isolating and working this area, six days a week, is simple to do, and will prepare you for the control you will need in your ballet footwork. If you are among the boys in ballet, the same exercises improve your jumps.

"Doming" is an exercise in which you isolate the part of the foot that will provide tremendous support to your toe shoe work.

Keeping your heel on the floor, and your toes on the floor, with no twisting inwards or outwards, lift up the rest of your foot into a dome shape. It may not raise very much, but the sole of your foot will be off the floor (except for heel and toes).

Try to do this twenty times, holding the dome up for a few seconds. If you cramp, relax, massage your foot, or roll a golf ball around under it.

If you already have pointe shoes, add this exercise to your extra practice:

(After warming up) - do a slow careful press up using something for a barre. This could be in parallel, first position, or a small second position.

Sometimes second position on pointe has to be smaller, to get right up onto the platform of your pointe shoes.

Once up on full pointe, lower to demi pointe, and press back up onto full pointe. Repeat four times, then lower to flat, and then demi plie to relax and stretch your lower legs.

Make sure your weight is placed well in the demi plie, about 40% on the heels, and 60% on the ball of the foot and little toe joint areas. The front of the ankles should be relaxed.

As you get stronger, you can repeat the movement between full pointe and demi pointe eight times. When that amount feels strong, change the exercise to dropping from full pointe to demi pointe, and quickly rising again to full pointe.

You will love the control you get from working this specific area of your feet! The Perfect Pointe Book will give you many more exercises for foot control!

Here is a cool video of a Black Swan preparing her pointe shoes:

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ballet Pointe Exercises For The High Arches Will Prepare You For Ballet Pointe Shoes

If you have extremely high arches, or hyper-mobile feet, you can learn this pre-pointe exercise to prepare for pointe work, right now.

Even if you are in your first year or few weeks of ballet classes, and even if you are an adult beginner, and even if you don't even WANT to dance on pointe one day, this exercise will build your strength for ballet pointe exercises.

Which is very important, to prevent ballet injuries. Sprained ankles are a very common injury, especially among the "lucky" who have 'banana' feet, fashionable for ballet.

Here is this simple exercise:

Using a barre or chair back, press up onto demi pointe, but not all the way. You need to stop the movement when your ankle joints are in line with your toes on the floor, not arching out in front of them.

You may need a mirror at first, or have your ballet teacher check the position.

Do several shallow demi plies, slowly, maintaining the position of your ankles. You will feel your lower leg and foot muscles working differently to do this.

This is the position you will do hops on pointe in. Your ankle joints will always be lined up with the platform of your toe shoes, never pushing forward.

Get THE PERFECT POINTE BOOK and you will have all the ballet pointe exercises you need!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dream of Pointe Shoes - But Focus On Real Pointe Shoe Exercise

Don't stop dreaming of pointe shoes - (even if you are an adult beginner) but read on for some information on every day ballet pointe exercises, techniques that you can do in very little time. Unlike your scheduled dance class, you can sneak these exercises into other time slots. Like when you're working at a your computer, watching television, reading, or sitting on the bus or train.

Some of them can be done with no one noticing, inside your shoes.

Special exercises that train your tiny foot muscles must be learned carefully, but once you have practiced them and know you are doing them right, they are easy to integrate into short slots of time during your day.

A special exercise to strengthen your big toe muscle increases your ballet foot control. This one tiny muscle supports all of your releves and jumps. It adds to the last second push off onto full pointe, and also gives an extra quick point of the foot that elevates a jump.

It is surprising that at first it may feel impossible to, for example, to lift your big toes off the floor while leaving the other four toes firmly in place. With no rolling in or out of the sole of the foot. And then placing the big toes back down, and lifting the other four.

If this causes a cramp, just relax your feet and keep trying. Working up to twenty repetitions is real progress. For your brain, this is foreign territory. Until a new neural pathway is created. Then you have a new reflex!

As you add more and more simple to learn exercises to your regimen, you will feel the effects in your ballet barre work. As you gain strength and control, you will know that your dreams of dancing in pointe ballet shoes are not impossible to fulfill.

Whilst every battement tendu, degage and releve counts towards you gaining towards dancing in pointe shoes, these special pre-pointe exercises will add to the work you do at the dance studio.

Dreaming of dancing in pointe shoes is not the most practical dream for some. Yet appreciating ballet is almost a spiritual reckoning. Ballet goes so beyond the every day experience, classical, and modern. So do not give up your dream of pointe shoes. Visit us and get your complete dancers guide for ballet pointe exercises.

Ballet Foot Control -Get Special Pointe Shoes Exercise Routines

Ballet foot control - every dancer who wants to excel in pointe ballet work, needs more than just ballet class.

Ballet foot control is acquired through specific pointe shoes exercise routines taught HERE, as well as the basic technique learned in ballet class. You would like to think that the hundreds of battements tendus and degages, releves and jumps done class after class would be enough to prepare for pointe.

Not that each and every one of them does not count, they are all important. Yet, there is more. And learning special exercises to make your progress faster, does not take all that much extra time. For adult ballet beginners, time is essential, and these routines will help you advance.

Pointe shoes exercises target the sole of the foot muscles, and the big toe muscle.

Turn out and balance exercises are added to strengthen your rotator muscles and the supporting core muscles. When the rotator muscles are exerted, you will lose your pelvic placement, and your balance, if your abdominal muscles are weak.

Practising seated rises and slow rises both parallel and with ballet turnout, improves your postural alignment, while increasing strength in your foot muscles.

Creating strong sole of the foot muscles for dancing on pointe prevents ballet injuries, such as sprained ankles and shin splints. This is because the lower leg muscles are not constantly over-worked because of foot muscle weakness.

Every weakness in your basic classical technique is magnified when you wear pointe ballet shoes. You have such a tiny platform to stand on.

If your feet are ready, and your ballet positions are strong, you will really love dancing in toe shoes.

There are several more important and easy-to-learn exercises that you can add to home practice to prepare you for dancing en pointe. Adding some to your work outs will give you excellent results in ballet class.

You will feel the extra strength in your barre work, your jumps, and in controlling your landings from jumps and releves.

You will gradually achieve that "footsteps like a cat" quality that some ballerinas and men in ballet have been famous for.

Another added benefit from building the best ballet foot control, is being able to walk and dance quietly in pointe ballet shoes. The fastest way to progress to dancing on point, is to visit us and get your own copy of a video/photo/ and completely explained dancers guide, THE PERFECT POINTE BOOK, about POINTE SHOES EXERCISE.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Tips For Pointe Shoes - Get The Big Toe Strong

Here's some ballet tips about a pointe shoe exercise - specifically to add strength and control to the big toe.

I know dance students love detail.

'What can I do to be better than all the rest?' 

There are many exercises to prepare you for dancing in pointe shoes, exercises for little tiny sole of the foot and toe muscles.

These exercises will get you stronger and refine your control for dancing in ballet toe shoes.

Your big toe has the potential to support your arch muscles, and give you that powerful motion to elevate your jumps, and get you up on pointe securely every time you releve.

Here's a special exercise to isolate and work a muscle in your big toe.

Get down on the floor on one knee.

Place the other foot on the floor, directly forward from you.

Place that foot carefully with the weight evenly distributed as in equal weight under your big toe joint, or ball of the foot, and at the outer foot, the little toe joint.

The inner arch muscles and the other muscles under the sole of your foot should be "on", meaning not tense, but ready to move.

Raise the big toe up from the floor with your fingers, but press the ball of the foot down, so that its position does not change or twist in any way.

Holding the big toe firmly with your fingers, push it down toward the floor. This will activate the muscle underneath it. Hold for at least three seconds.

The arches of the feet should not be slack, and should not allow the foot to change its angle in relation to the floor, in any direction.

Slowly allow the muscle to relax, and again lift the toe and return it to its beginning position.

Do this exercise 20 times, or more. If you get any cramps, relax, rub the muscle a little, and start again.

Do not allow the foot to roll toward the little toe, or roll inwards.

Once you have strengthened this muscle, you will be able, while standing, to press down on the big toe and slightly buckle it, seeing the knuckle rise a little.

Be sure to pamper your feet with warm soaks and a little massage.

You can roll a golf ball under your foot, to release muscle tension.

Be the best in your ballet class -  get The Perfect Pointe Book, for many


Here is the author of The Perfect Pointe Book demonstrating a perfect battement tendu in preparation for pointe work.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Increase Ballet Technique- Improve Your Ballet Footwork

You want to be the best, or among the best in your dance studio.

You want to get into pointe shoes, or dance better doing pointe work. This exercise, below, will help you begin to refine your foot muscles.

If you study ballet, how to increase ballet technique can be examined in detail with use of THE PERFECT POINTE BOOK.

With it, you can study ballet at home. If you want to dance ballet in pointe shoes, these routines will help you get prepared.

Adult ballet beginners can get ahead with dance by studying these ballet barre exercises.

Refining your reflexes is part of these exercises too. For one example try toe swapping. This is excellent for tennis players, basketball players, or any sportsman - or woman - who wishes to get better professional footwork:

Sitting straight with your feet flat on the floor;

  • check that the balls of the feet and little toe joint are evenly placed, as well as your heel
  • lift the big toes as high as you can, and hold them up for a few seconds. Do not let the rest of the foot change position, but make sure it stays on the floor. 
  • put your big toes down.

  • leaving the big toe fully on the floor, lift the other four toes up and hold them up for a few seconds.

It is not unusual that when you first start doing this exercise, your brain cannot even find the mechanism to lift the toes separately like this. You do not yet have the neural pathway for this action, but you soon will.

Lift the toes with your fingers, if need be, to fulfill the movement. then hold the position of the toes for a few seconds. You will probably find that after a few days your brain finds the action all by itself.

There are more exercises similar to toe swapping, that refine and strengthen movements in all parts of your ballet muscles.

Strong foot muscles will prevent lower leg injuries like shin splints, and give you the control to avoid accidents like sprained ankles.

Get your own copy of The Perfect Pointe Book, designed to help you increase your BALLET TECHNIQUE and improve your ballet footwork.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Improve Ballet Technique - Relieve Muscle Pain

Even with good ballet technique, incorrect usage of the feet includes various compensations for classical technique weakness in other areas of the body.

Meaning, other muscles or groups of muscles will over work to make up for a weakness.

As a young dancer, or an adult ballet beginner, you can learn how to relieve muscle pain in the feet. Get The Perfect Pointe Book to understand correct ballet technique.

This applies to contemporary dance classes as well, so if you dance in bare feet without the support of shoes, foot care is of the utmost importance, and will take you through many years of enjoying dance.

How to place the body weight on the feet is often referred to as the 'tripod foot', dispersing the weight on three areas. The ball of the foot, the little toe side of the foot, and the heel. Feeling wise, it is as though there is a little more weight on the ball of the foot area, than the other two areas.

If you stand with your weight held too far back, you usually can see and feel tension in the tendon at the front of the ankle. Placing the body with weight back in the feet also brings the lower leg muscles into play, and will create tension there in the tibia, or shin muscles.

The correct way is more comfortable. It also keeps the weight placed so that you are poised to leave a closed ballet position
and move with ease.

And it is not all about the feet - correct posture and pelvic placement allows you to stand on the feet with no unnecessary tension, ready to dance.

Being aware of this "triangle" on the sole of your foot helps you notice yourself when the knees, hips, waist and upper body are not strong enough, and are getting into misplaced positions.

Incorrect positions then cause awkwardness or require additional effort for ballet movements.

Correct ballet technique helps you prevent or relieve muscle pain. Get The Perfect Pointe Book which has many more dance tips about how to  IMPROVE BALLET TECHNIQUE.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Grishko "Elite" Pointe Shoe

This toe shoe is described by the makers as:

"This Grishko® model features a broad, flat box which provides an optimal platform. The "Elite" is not pre-arched. It is extra quiet, light, and features Grishko®'s super shank. Available in Medium or Hard shanks; please specifiy when ordering. Now with drawstring."

Personally I wouldn't want a pre-arched shoe, unless it was shaped perfectly for my foot. However, if your foot matched this shoe, maybe that could work. Breaking in your pointe shoes to your own specifications is something you can learn, to ensure that all your pointe shoes support you as comfortably as possible.

Enjoy your dancing!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Foot Muscles For Pointe Shoes - Take a Look!

Here are some illustrations of foot muscles, tendons and ligaments.

Here are some more good pictures of the muscles needed for toe shoes.

I hope this helps with your dancing in pointe shoes!

You can get these great muscles working very well with The Perfect Pointe Book guide! Try it! 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Freed Studio Pointe Shoes

Freed pointe shoes are hand made. Ballerinas can order them custom made, choosing a personal cobbler at Freed's. Especially personalized is the shape of the box, which is hammered into shape carefully for each dancer's requirements.

George Blanchine considered Freeds to be lighter and more flexible than other brands. Yet, Freeds are very strong pointe shoes, available in five widths and twenty sizes.

Freeds pointe shoes provide styles for wider feet, called the Studios II. Both the Studios I (has a more tapered box) and II have longer vamps and very stiff wings (the support coming up the sides).

Frederick Freed opened Freeds of London in 1929. He had previously worked for the Italian dance shoe maker, Gamba.