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.