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!.