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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Balance on Flat (In Pointes)


dido

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My teacher recently suggested that I start taking one or two of my technique classes all in pointe shoes.

Imagine my humiliation when I discover that I cannot do a developpe even at 45 degrees because someone has replaced my feet with rockers. I am fine at the barre, and as acceptable as I've ever been for tendus in the center, allegro, pirouettes, but I can hardly get through an adagio combination without actually falling over. (Do we have a smilie for hysterical tears? :( ).

My question is: Does this expose a fundamental flaw in my placement/alignment?

Or is this to be expected in the switch to pointe shoes?

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It's much harder to balance in pointe shoes. Trust me, I see professional ballerinas who wobble thier way through adagio. I think some shoes are less flat than others. Freeds look particularly difficult to balance with while Gaynor Minden's are much more stable. Provided the shoes fit you correctly and your foot is fullly able to engage with the floor, it will just be a matter of time an d patience building the strength.

 

It will get easier the more you work in them. I absolutely hate adagio work for the reasons you described. Falling over my merely standing on one foot doesn't make one feel very skilled or graceful. A friend of mine who is particularly good at adagio and has amazing extensions told me to think "Stomach, back, toes" every time I step into a developpe. Pull in and up the lower stomach below the belly button, engage the lats in you back and bring your toes up...not the leg. This advice has helped me somewhat. Today I didn't fall over while doing developpe, though it's still not as glorious as I want it to be.

 

I think hestitating and fussing about with the positions can throw you off too. If I take too long getting into retire, I can throw myself completely off balance.

 

I sympathize with you. It's not my favorite part of class.

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Hey Dido, I am not sure what the teachers on this board will think about this but this is what I started doing 2 weeks ago. My teacher too expects me to take my regular technique class in pointe shoes. However, he suggested for the first month to wear a well broken in shoe, to take off the shank and to soften the box a bit more. I must admit that even if this is not as stiff and hard as doing it with a shanked pointe shoe, it is definitely more challenging than in regular slippers. I think it is a logical transition before taking a tech class with regular pointe shoes. Hope this helps a bit. What do teachers on this board think of this?

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I agree with it, sylphide. Good way to get used to balance on flat in pointe shoes. :(

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OK, I feel much better now. Thank you very much indeed.

 

I did realize it was going to be harder, but I didn't think it was going to be quite that bad and thought it was going to last forever (instead of just 32 counts two times a class...)

 

I wish I had thought of wearing a deshanked pair first, but now that I've been through a week of this I feel like I might as well stick it out. I definitely was using my stomach more than usual, I'll keep the "back and toes" in mind as well.

 

I thought of trying to cut/file/sand down the outsole too, practicing on an old pair of course. Has anyone tried this, and did it help or would it do structural damage?

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*Knock knock*

 

Sorry for interrupting, but I've had a similar problem in some of my classes, as well. My teacher told me that because of the way a pointe shoe is built, it is naturally less supportive on flat than a soft shoe, therefore, in order to properly keep one's balance in a pointe shoe, you have to push solidly against the floor much more than usual, to avoid wobbling.

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I just got a great image of a pointe-shod foot crunching through an asphalt road, sort of a monster movie thing. :dry: I'll definitly try to remember that one, while thinking "stomach, back, toe" and trying to send my supporting leg into the floor.

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I thought of trying to cut/file/sand down the outsole too, practicing on an old pair of course. Has anyone tried this, and did it help or would it do structural damage?

Yes, it helps a bit... I file mine with a cutter knife, and cut (criss-cross) sections under the arch to allow for more flexibility in this area. Of course, no more pointe practice once you have filed those (it's only if you want to use them as regular technique shoes).

 

It's indeed much more difficult to balance on a 'half melon' as I call them (see how sometimes it looks rounded underneath!) and it will definitely take as long as up to 6 months to regain full skills on flat without wobbles. Think of how you used your foot in slippers and you will soon realise how much you 'gripped' the floor (unconsciously mostly) with your toes or how you spread them... no more of that with boxed shoes. :wink:

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Melon foot is exactly right.

I have a question about the toes gripping/spreading. It took me about 2 years to learn how to use my toes to help with stability in technique shoes, should I be unlearning how to do that when I take class in flats?

 

Oh yeah, I wanted to add that I thought about "back, stomach, toe" so hard in adagio last night that I forgot the combination twice--but I sucessfully completed a grand rhond de jamb in attitude 3 times. (The fourth time I was trying to remember what came next.) Thanks!

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It took me about 2 years to learn how to use my toes to help with stability in technique shoes, should I be unlearning how to do that when I take class in flats?

Not necessarily, unless your toes are truly gripping the floor (and so, there is a tension that shouldn't be there, and will make your toes curl). Otherwise, it should be fine. You can indeed spread them in technique shoes, and that is fine too, but you'll have to 'relearn' how to balance in a different way if you use blocked shoes. :(

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