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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Pointing toes

Guest amdewitt

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Guest amdewitt

OK, I'm also piggybacking on Zarafa's post, but how do ballet dancers point their toes so far that it seems to bend toward the heel?? Is this something that just takes time? I've noticed that my pointed foot is much better than it was 6 months ago, and that it looks like it's in somewhat of a curve because I have a high, flexible arch, but my toes point straight, not backwards. I can force them back with my hands, but I can't make them stay back on my own.


Is this something that is developed once you begin pointe work? I keep hearing this thing about "going over", which seems to me that your toes would automatically start bending backwards because of the pressure that is applied when standing on your toes (almost like you can't help BUT "go over" some).


Forgive me, if these are trivial questions, but the foot that points backwards like that looks so much more elegant than just an arched foot with toes pointing straight. smile.gif

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  • Victoria Leigh


  • Mel Johnson


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Umm since no one has replied, I'll give you my 2 cents worth..did i just say cents?? I meant pennies...


They train, and the dancers you see who can point their feet like that tend to have been picked to go onto professional ballet because of their ability to be able to have beautiful feet. Some people have it naturally, but of course are not dancers so you don't see it. I have a few friends who have never ever done ballet before, and who have the most exquisite feet, makes me quite envious and I ask if I can borrow their feet wink.gif


Yes, you can work at it, you have muscles in your toes that when they are worked do actually improve matters. Therabands are the best way to improve your feet as is just pointing your feet as often as you can.


Oh hang on, are you talking about your toes going backwards when in pointe shoes rather than just a beautifully pointed foot?

I presume you are talking of, okay picture this, a dancer taking a wide second position in pointes, then doing a grande plie, and her feet seem to curve inwards?

If thats it, then lots of practice and flexible, yet strong feet and ankles.

Again, therabands are a lot of use here. Also standing at the barre up on pointe and pushing over , sometimes done as a warm up in pointe class


Hopefully, I didn't get the entire thing confused, sorry if I did confused.gif


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Guest amdewitt

No, you've hit the nail on the head, but I wish I could draw it for you. smile.gif


Just imagine you're pointing your toes regularly on your left foot, and then take your left hand and cover all your toes with your thumb under the ball of your feet, and force them back. Kinda like the b+ position, but pointing your feet in a tendu...am I losing you? That's the way my teachers feet point! Unbelievable...


And, by the way, thanks for replying! smile.gif

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atti2de, your use of the word "backward" in terms of how the toes point is confusing. They actually bend forward! It sounds to me like you have the arch, but have not developed the muscles that make the toes pointe forward or downward yet. Time and practice, and, like Xena said, work with a theraband may help this.


The correct usage of the foot must be developed BEFORE pointe work, though. Pointe work itself does not do that. It has to be there first.


The dancers foot, the one that is considered beautiful, is a gift, and some people have it to begin with. If it is not there, it can be developed to some extent, but may never be the same as the one you are aiming for. But, everyone can improve how well they USE their feet, which can make a huge difference in how well they dance!

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Guest amdewitt

Sorry about the confusion, Ms. Leigh, smile.gif . I guess what I mean is that when I releve, my toes lay flat on the ground and are in a pretty good line with my ankles (high arch, double jointed/hyperextension in the toes for a high releve). But, I can't bend them really far on my own in the opposite direction. So, if in my releve position, my toes are at 12:00, I can get them to 3:00 for the pointed foot, but not to 4:00/5:00. 6:00 is impossible for anyone, or if possible, would not look right in ballet. smile.gif But, I guess I'm aiming for 4:00, and will need lots of work to get there.


Have I completely lost you or what? biggrin.gif

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Guest amdewitt

I thought that might be a stretch smile.gif I really wish I could draw it. How about this...if I am seated, but have my foot in the releve position, and I pick that foot up (maintaining the releve'd position), and place it on the opposite leg (left ankle resting on right knee), looking at my foot's profile, the tip of my big toe is facing 12:00 (still in the releve position)...I can only point to 3:00...


Oh, I guess I should just give this one up, LOL biggrin.gif

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atti2de, you have lost me so totally on this one that I don't have any idea what you are describing. Ankle on the knee? There is no position with the ankle on the knee. Only the tip of the toe touches the knee in a retiré position. When you mention the 12:00 and 3:00 are you talking about the foot or the angle of the knee? I'm just lost here, sorry. frown.gif

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Guest amdewitt

Oh, I'm so sorry, Ms. Leigh smile.gif I wasn't describing any ballet position at all. I was trying to think of a way to describe where on the foot I was talking about. I think the only way to do this is by pointing out a visual. On the discount dance supply website, under Modern footwear, there is a foot thong made by Bloch, in which the dancers are clearly pointing their feet so that their toes are bending what I had originally called backward. It's like their feet make almost a "C" curve because of how far their toes bend towards their heels. That, I cannot do. My foot, when pointed, is not as curved. The bottom of my heel to my instep is curved, but from the instep to the tip of my toe, it is straight. The curve does not continue on to the tip of my toes. I really want to improve the curvature from the instep to the tip of my toe, and I don't know if time and practice is the thing that will do it.


I really really appreciate your patience with this one. I'm sorry that I could not think of a better way to describe it. smile.gif

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Guest amdewitt

THANK YOU, TIM!!!! I'm so excited that you understand, I don't know what to do with myself. That is EXACTLY what I mean! That is an excellent description of what I am talking about. The ONLY, and I mean, ONLY way I can achieve that "point" is by grabbing ahold of it myself. I cannot get that look by pointing my toes on my own. smile.gifsmile.gifsmile.gif


How do they get their toes to bend like that? What can I do to get mine to bend like that?

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Guest amdewitt

OK, I'm not going nuts. I just saw a post from Lola_Doggy that clearly described what I meant in a very eloquent fashion, I might add, but it's no longer here. Tim, if you could please share that description again, I'd really appreciate it. confused.gif

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Okay, I understand now, you are saying that your teacher has a high instep. Which means her feet look gorgeous even though she is just naturally pointing her foot like those of us with normal feet or just a high arch as opposed to a really high arch would.

This is genetic and there is nothing you can do to change the actually skeletal build of your foot. You can however, train your foot muscles to produce maximum desired results. The only draw back of having a high instep is that the foot tends to be quite rigid but strong, or is it weak?..I think Ms Leigh or Mjr Johnson will probably tell you all about it better than I ever could.


But that is the reason why your teachers feet look the way they do. At least that's my theory....


[ February 02, 2002: Message edited by: Xena ]

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Now I think I get it! I was envisioning clockfaces in every which direction, but I never thought to make one very small, and placed with its center on the metatarsal/phalangeal joint, on the centerline of the foot, fore and aft, and perpendicular to the floor, it that it? 12:00, then, is with the foot pointed, but the toes flexed as if in relevé, and 3:00 is pointed straight ahead. 4:00, then, is past straight ahead, with the toe touching the axis of the fibula, if one were to continue that line of the bone past the ankle. 4:00, is, believe me, plenty! Jeannette is quite right about the sort of foot that does that naturally. It's beautiful, but usually not very naturally strong.


[ February 02, 2002: Message edited by: Mel Johnson ]

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Attitude, you might be able to improve what your feet do - I managed it. I didn't realise until I started pointe that your foot can bend from where your toes join the foot, without curling your toes over. I had difficuly rising slowly onto pointe, because I didn't know how to use the muscle. After practising a lot, it feels like I have a new muscle in my foot in that area and now my feet look much better. It's taking time for me to be able to use this "new muscle" in tendus, for example, because it takes a few seconds to locate, but I'm getting there. So don't give up, good luck! smile.gif

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Guest amdewitt

YES, YES Major Mel! smile.gifsmile.gifsmile.gif That is exactly what I meant about the clock reference! I can get it to 3:00, but certainly not to 4:00. Xena and Lolly, so you mean that although the 4:00 position looks good, it may be a disadvantage? Wow, then I guess I don't want my toes to bend back that far; it just looks really impressive!


And, Lolly, that was another question that I had (whether or not pointework would improve it), and apparently it does. It seems like it would! I realize you have to have strength and the other laundry list of things to go on pointe, but once you're there, it has an added benefit of making your feet point in ways that you may not be able to on flats. Thank you all for bearing with me on this one!

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