Line

Feet and what can be done to improve them

12 posts in this topic

I was wondering if anyone has any success stories about a dancer with less than ideal feet succeeding in a high level of ballet. My middle daughter's feet have improved a great deal this year. They've improved from feet quite impractical for ballet to feet that look like they may one day get there. This year she took 1 ballet, 1 Jazz, and 1 Highland dance class. I believe it was the Highland dance that has made a huge difference.

 

Her highland teacher is also a ballet teacher. She is an excellent teacher, very good at keeping the children engaged in the class and very passionate about highland dance. She does a great warm up for the feet at the barre. Highland dance, especially the fling and the sword dance, is danced entirely on rise, usually the dancer is expected to be very high up on the ball of the foot and the heels are not to touch the floor. You jump and hop the entire way through the dances. This must strengthen the feet a great deal. The improvement is quite noticeable in her ballet class. She still has a long ways to go. She will be taking more ballet next year and hopefully she can continue to improve. The shape of her foot is something that her older sister never had to think about (or at least had to be less aware of) so it does make ballet that much more challenging for my middle DD.

 

Is there a certain age that is best for improving feet? -that you can make the most progress?

 

Has anyone noticed another activity that might help improve feet? swimming? rhythmic gymnastics?

 

My oldest daughter was a rhythmic gymnast at one time but she already had pretty good feet to start with. I did notice however that rhythmic gymnasts also place great value on a nicely shaped stretched and pointed foot.

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Line, your daughter is at a good age to improve her feet. The younger it starts, the better, so the next few years should be where she will get the most improvement. She will need more ballet classes, and they need to be classes with a teacher who is very strong on articulation of the feet. There is nothing better than basic barre exercises, really well executed, to improve the feet. Every tendu, degagé, frappé, rond de jambe, fondu, sur le cou de pied, etc., works the foot. Stretching daily with a theraband is also helpful.

 

There are dancers who do not have the very best feet, but in order to overcome that, they have to learn to really USE them very, very well. This takes a long time, but can be done, with excellent teaching and a student who really wants to do it. That last part is critical. The work ethic of the student is essential for ballet, no matter how much natural ability they have!

 

I would be careful with the Highland dancing unless that is also countered with a lot of work on the demi plié. Working constantly on demi pointe can tighten the calf muscles and lead to problems with plié.

 

I would not turn to other activities to try and improve the feet for ballet. BALLET improves the feet for ballet, if taught well and learned well and really worked! :)

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Thank you for the advice. What you mentioned about the calf muscles is interesting. That is something that never occurred to me.

Edited by Line

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What about just sitting at home and using a band just sit and point and flex. I know this has helped my daughter a lot with the strength and point of her foot

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Theraband is a good idea. I wasn't sure if it was appropriate for her yet. I suppose just basic stretches with it would be helpful.

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Line, very basic things, supervised, and be sure that she knows how to use it properly. Be sure that it is not too strong a band to start with for one so young. :)

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Well my daughter is enjoying her three ballet classes a week, a jazz class, and a highland dance class. It appears she is a late bloomer. A girl who was always at the back of the pack she is now picking up technique quickly and is growing into a nice ballet dancer.

 

Her feet are continuing to show improvement. After discussion with her dance teacher I've come to realize her arches are normal/good, but her ankle is really lacking flexibility. This is what interrupts her line.

 

She does work with her theraband. She is doing this in class occasionally with her teacher as well as at home.

 

I'm interested in the arch genie. It looks as though it would be helpful with her ankles. I'm not looking for a quick fix, she is 10 and she has lots of time to work on this. I know that some of these devices are dangerous if overused but if used along with a strengthening regime do you think this might be helpful?

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My decidedly NON expert opinion--

 

It seems like something like the arch genie could be of help with flexibility, but by working on it that way, I don't see how it would help with the strength needed. I would think that the Theraband would still be preferable because it works on strength as well as the stretch aspect.

 

I am looking forward to hearing what some of those in the know have to say. Dd wants one and I have said no, so far, but if I am wrong and they are useful, I would consider getting her one for Christmas or a birthday.

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We do not believe in devices to manipulate the feet. Ballet, taught properly and worked properly by the student, is designed to develop strength and flexibility in the feet and ankles. Therabands are okay, but I cannot recommend any of the (very expensive) devices on the market.

 

(There are threads here on this topic. I don't have time to search for them, but they exist.)

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Ok. I thought in moderation it might be useful. I will leave it alone then. Thanks.

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Well it's over two and half years since my first post on this topic. My DD, who is 12 and a half years old now, continued to take advice from her ballet teachers and work on those feet and ankles at home and in class. Last Spring she auditioned for the pre-professional school that her older sister attends and was accepted. She now has ballet 5 days a week. They have pointe assessments at this school a few times a year and after her 2nd assessment she got the okay to begin pointe work. We went to her first pointe shoe fitting today.

 

I'm so proud of her. This was a long term goal for her and she managed to stay focused and just continue to give it her best year after year. I was amazed that she was able to pass a few and catch up to others who have more natural facility by keeping a positive attitude and showing a strong work ethic. She has a long road of up and downs still ahead but I am pleased and a little amazed that she has reached this milestone.

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Thank you for the update, Line. It sounds like all is going very well for your DD, and I congratulate her on her hard work and positive attitude. :)

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