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.

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