Consider this: every ballet movement where your foot leaves a closed position, usually fifth position, and ends in a pointed foot position, on or off the floor, uses your tiny intrinsic (in the foot exclusively) foot muscles. Just at the barre you do:
* battement tendu
* battement degage
* battement picque
* ronde de jambe
* ronde de jambe en l'air
* grand battement
In each of these exercises, your foot goes from a closed, or flat on the floor position, to a pointed position.
Every single ballet movement is an opportunity to use your foot muscles properly.
As you leave a closed position, you pretend your leg is getting longer, elastic down the back. You push down into the floor, creating RESISTANCE to your gliding movement.
If your body position is stable, then the RESISTANCE is the part of the muscular effort that develops strength. Both in your foot muscles, and in your postural muscles of the spine and hips, which keep your body upright.
- In a battement tendu, you end in a pointed foot position on the floor (a terre).
- In a battement degage, you allow the foot to leave the floor, but only so far
- In a battement picque, you degage, and then bounce the toes off the floor one time, maintaining the point.
- In a ronde de jambe a terre (on the floor) you close into first, RESISTING and pushing into the floor with the sole of the foot, and RESISTING and pushing the into the floor with the foot as you leave first position to the next open position.
- In grand battement, you leave the closed position, quickly, with pressure into the floor.
- In developpe, you leave fifth position, pushing into the floor with your foot muscles, as opposed to just lifting the foot up.
That's a lot of work! All in those tiny ballet foot muscles.
Imagine the power you have when you push off the floor to jump. Of course your thighs and calves are pumping.
But the very last thrust from the floor is from your feet and the ends of your toes!
There is your quality. A quick, sharp, exit from gravity.
If you are a dedicated ballet dancer, feeling impatient to do ballet pointe work, you can learn more about all your ballet barre exercises by getting your own copy of The Perfect Pointe Book.
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