Jump to content
Ballet Talk for Dancers

good vs. bad feet


freespirit

Recommended Posts

Now please forgive my ignorancesince I'm a newbie, but could anyone explain to me what it means to have "good" feet? What makes a foot bad? I've been reading a lot about ballet lately, and people seem to discuss feet all the time. How important is it to have good feet? How can you tell if a foot is good or bad>

Link to post
Mel Johnson

This is almost like the opening sentence of Anna Karenina. Good feet are all good for the same reasons. Bad feet are bad for all different reasons. Gretchen Ward Warren, in her excellent Classical Ballet Technique p. 70, goes into the basic reasons why good feet are good and bad feet are bad. You have to see the pics to understand the explanation fully. If you don't have this book, it's well worth getting, and if you want to "try before buy", ask for it at your local library. If they don't have it, they'll be able to get it via interlibrary loan.

Link to post
pointe2perfection

Mel or Victoria - Have either of you ever know a professional ballerina who was not gifted with "good" banana feet but was able to work with them to make them "good" feet through exercise and stretching, at least good enough to perform at a professional level?

Link to post
Mel Johnson

"Banana" feet are not good. That's a term which describes a foot with a high arch and instep, but the musculature can't support weight. It's like the banana. Seems solid enough, but if you put pressure on the end, the whole thing mooshes. But to answer your question more directly, yes, there are plenty of dancers without high arches and insteps who dance professionally. Too many to name!

Link to post
drives2much

Do all dancers with feet that have a high arch and instep deal with musculature that can't support the weight (meaning do they go hand in hand) from the start? And, the ones that can develop the strength to support the high arch and instep end up with "good" feet and the ones that can't or don't have "banana" feet?

Edited by drives2much
Link to post
  • Administrators
Victoria Leigh

No, not all high insteps and arches are weak at all. I have actually known more dancers like this with a strong foot than weak. It seems to have a lot to do with the whole muscular structure, strength of the ankles, calves, etc. Plus of course the kind of training that prepares them and builds the strength.

 

While there are dancers working who do not have the Paloma Herrera foot, that is still what one looks for in a dancer. How much one can improve a foot is relative to so many things that it is often impossible to know until one has worked on it a very long time. Some can be worked to a degree that is acceptable if the dancer has everything else going for her, and others cannot. It takes a great deal of work and a long time to make small changes, and this work has to be done by the teacher as well as the student. The student has to learn to USE her feet so well that they look good even if they are not. Possible.........but somewhat rare. HOWEVER, there are degrees of good and bad involved here too. There are VERY GOOD feet that are not AS good as those of dancers like Herrera.

 

Freespirit, to know what the good foot looks like, I suggest that you study the photos on professional company websites. Start with ABT and look at Herrera. But look at a lot of photos, and notice that they are not all as extreme as hers. Get some ballet videos. Books. And, especially, go to some performances of good companies!!! :thumbsup:

Link to post
drives2much
How much one can improve a foot is relative to so many things that it is often impossible to know until one has worked on it a very long time.

 

Ms. Leigh,

 

For perspective sake, can you clarify "a very long time"? I'm guessing the answer will be it is different with each person, but is there a ballpark range (minimum time-maximum time) until improvement is noticeable and on the other end when maximum improvement will be reached?

 

I would imagine there comes a time when the maximum improvement will be achieved, then it would be a matter of maintainence-right?

 

Also, concerning improvement of the foot being "relative to so many things", what would these be beyond genetics and dedication to various exercises and training?

Link to post
  • Administrators
Victoria Leigh

No way to say how long or any length of time.

 

As to the "relative things", they are how much flexibility is there to start with, how young one starts working on it, how well and how hard it is worked and with how much knowledge, the quality and quantity of the training, and the dedication and committment of the dancer and the teacher. All variables, and all impossible to quantify. Sorry. :o

Link to post

I have a young daughter who has an arch, and a bit of an instep, although it's not high. Her feet are so pronated, however, that they look flat when she's standing. She has a nice arch when she points her foot, but I can stand behind her and see the weakness in her ankles that causes her feet to roll in. She is a young, recreational ballet student. Other than attending ballet classes is there something you recommend to strengthen this part of the foot and ankle. Even if she never pursues ballet, I think it must be hard on the knees to have the feet pronate. It looks as though she is always rolling over in her turn out, but I don't believe it's from forcing the turn out. I thinks its from weakness?

Link to post

I have the same problem, but have learned to mostly correct it through dancing. It is definitely hard on the knees and ankles, and her teacher should be correcting it. I'm not really sure what to do about it in everyday life, though...I just concentrate on keeping my arches lifted and legs/feet parallel when I walk (surprising how much you can fix by walking). Maybe make sure her shoes have good arch support?

Link to post
  • Administrators
Victoria Leigh

mom1, I would definitely suggest a podiatrist and a prescription for orthotics. That needs to corrected ASAP, for ballet and for everything else too!

Link to post

The PT at Harkness did not suggest orthotics for my dd's pronation (perhaps not as serious?) but did suggest the following exercises. though perhaps better to be shown them in person, since if you don't do them right, might cause some other injury?)

 

1. Loop (red) theraband around leg of table and center of dd's foot, while dd is sitting with legs extend, knees to sky. Important NOT to let knees roll out or in during this exercise. Stretch the foot inwards into a sickle position and slowly release 15x. It is the release that is really the exercise, so slowly and controlled is what you are looking for. When can do 20 with ease, go to next theraband strength.

 

2. Same as above, only stretch outwards, "winging" position, control release back to neutral position. same reps, etc.

 

3. "Doming": sit with feet on floor, and draw foot in and up from the center, hold and release. this forms a dome at center of foot. Can do these all the time, whenever thinks of it, in movies, at school, on bus, etc.

 

Hope this is helpful. :angry:

Link to post
  • Administrators
Victoria Leigh

Pronate means rolling inwards. When the feet pronate, they are rolling in on the big toe side of the foot.

Link to post
  • 15 years later...
Yolanda cuesta

Hi there.  My daughter has got  high arches and a low instep. I disciussed with her physiothherapist about which was the ideal ballet foot. She said that the best would be a high arch for bounce and a low instep because the bones in a high instep werent compact enough to support the body weight and tended to have lots of problems.  She said these ballet dancers with high insteps and arches would end up with lotus feet like geishas. And worse if you have too much hyperextension. Too much tension on the knees when on pointe.  When you spin on pointe you fall out of ythe axis. Its all aesthetic standards  of nowadays. You have to look like an animé character.  Too much gymnastics and no art. What is ballet but an art not olympics.  Lots or famous ballerinas didnt have this banana foot but they were masters of movement.  Nijinsky was short limbed, Preobajenskaya was hunchbacked and had hyperextension in one leg and the other one straight. The hyper extensive one was considered the bad one. Galina ulanova had a very short neck. Natalie krassovska had a foot with no  instep. And so on. But they danced like heaven. Lately  when I go to a ballet, I get really bored. The ballerinas do lots of gymnastics but havent got brio, no expression, no vitality, wilted. Maybe a stiff smile. They dont seem to get into the mood of the story or the character. You might as well see a ballet without a story.  So whats the use of a banana foot if you dont know how to dance and act?

Link to post

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...