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.