Saturday, April 9, 2011
Pointe Shoe Exercises Need Strong Ballet Turnout
TUNE UP YOUR 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"!