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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Pointe and Arch


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Hi all,


I am having some problems. I am working towards pointe but my teacher refuses to put me on pointe unless i have the arch he desires to see. I am 28 yrs currently. Is there a limit on how much arch I can stretch my feet? And what are the exercises that I can do to help me improve my arch?


Also, my teacher says that my foot has to be vertically straight, so that when measured from my shin, my toes would be under it. Is this a must for this to happen before I can go on pointe?


please help... i am desperate..



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  • Mel Johnson


  • Victoria Leigh


  • Sashinka


  • dancepig


Hello, jchengz, and welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers. :innocent:


Your teacher is correct. What is being sought is a straight line of thrust, if it is described in engineering terms. What will complicate matters is that most peoples' bones are completely set at around age 25. There is still some play in the soft tissue, like cartilage and muscle, but there's no hope of making fully ossified bone rearrange itself as happens with teenagers.


As for exercises, they're all right there in the barre: Relevés, elevés, tendus, glissés, pas de cheval, frappés, and a really good position sur le cou de pied.

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Hi I'm sorry to bust in, but I'm confused now.

I have no desire to go on pointe what so ever, but I've been working on my feet anyway, so now when I point my foot my toes are underneath the shin (a little bit further actually: my toes are underneath the shinbone, my arch sticks out a bit to the front of that line. I thought it was supposed to be that way! :innocent:).

But the exercise I've been doing -sitting with my legs stretched out in front, keeping them to the ground and pointing my feet, toes reaching for the floor- are meant to actually GET them to reach the floor in time! (dance.net has a picture of someone doing just that!)

The toes would not be under the shin, but underneath the calf!

Is that good, or am I ruining my feet?

If it is good, why exactly is it good?

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Cathy, it sounds like you have a higher instep, which makes it look like the toes are more under the calf. This is a good thing, not a bad thing at all. :innocent: (The arch is the underneath part of the foot, and the instep is the top of the foot.)

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That's fine! :clapping:


Again, in engineering terms, what you have is a straight line of thrust, even though there are things that stick out in front of it and in back of it.

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Thank you Mel and Victoria...

also, my friend is trying very much to get that line of thrust is is placing her foot under a couch. As I have read from other posts, its a big NO NO... What should I tell her then?


Thanks again! :yucky:

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Yes, I think it would be a good idea to caution her against using inanimate objects for stretching the feet. The sofa won't care when you say "ouch".

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello everyone


I didn't know if I should post this here but it is along the same lines so I'll try it..


I'm wondering exactly what is keeping my foot from pointing as far as I'd like it to. I have a high arch (in the layman term sense that my footprint has only a very thin connecting line between the ball and the heel).. However my feet don't quite meet the test where you sit with your legs straight and see if you can get the ball of your foot beneath your ankle bone (they are pretty close to being in line with my ankle). However, I know I have a very flexible achilles tendon, and my demi pointe is quite high (if my understanding is correct in that you need to be able to fully meet that straight leg test to get a full proper demipointe, so Im about 1/2 an inch below that)..


So I guess my question is, what exactly is it in my foot that is holding me back flexibility wise? I have a large curve to my arch underneath the foot, I think thats because of my high arch shape in the footprint...but I always heard that bad feet dont stretch in the ankle and have both bad arches and insteps? So is my arch (bottom) to blame or the instep (top)?


Is there any real chance for improvement at 21? This is very frustrating as I am relatively flexible everywhere else (hips, hamstrings, back, achilles) ... I also find it very hard not to sickle if thats is at all related, my ankles just love to bend that way and I really have to focus to keep them straight... Thanks

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At 21, there is still plenty of time for the development of articulation through the foot. There are still structures in the ankle and instep that are not completely ossified, so it will be easier to change than if they were totally solid.

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Thank you Mel and Victoria...

also, my friend is trying very much to get that line of thrust is is placing her foot under a couch. As I have read from other posts, its a big NO NO... What should I tell her then?


Thanks again!  :)




If this is the same procedure I recall from high shcool it was pretty common. One stuck the metatarsals under the edge of an upholstered sofa that had an inch or two of clearance from the floor. One sat on the floor facing the couch with bent knees and slid backward to the point of stretch but not ouch. I have no idea what my teacher thought of this. It is unlikely anyone mentioned it to her. She may have had a proper fit but we were using walls to stretch or each other in those days and I think she was aware of that.



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I'm not anywhere near pointe, since I just started beginner classes, but it interests me for sometime in the distant future if I can work up to it. B) I just can't seem to visualize what it looks like for your toes to be under your shins. Does that mean in demi-pointe, or just when flexing your foot/pointing your toes? Is there somewhere I could find a picture that shows this?


Sorry for being dense, I just can't picture this for the life of me and it's probably because I haven't been dancing very long and lots of things haven't been explained to me yet.

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When you're standing on demi-pointe, the line runs from the knee down the shin through the ankle and all the way to the metatarsal joint.

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When you're standing on demi-pointe, the line runs from the knee down the shin through the ankle and all the way to the metatarsal joint.

Ah, I see! :P Thank you, I feel silly because that's completely and totally obvious now...


Is it odd that I can stand like that on demi-pointe already, then? I've always had a bad habit of standing/walking around on my toes because I'm short. My mom used to yell at me for it all the time, so maybe it turns out to have been useful? :)

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Sashinka - I have feet similar to yours (at least from what I garnered from your description), high arch, high demi-point, but had difficulty getting my feet to look fully pointed in class. It took me about three years of ballet classes (2 or 3 per week), to work my feet enough to be at the point (no pun intended) that Mel is describing. I found it was a combination of two factors; short toes and not learning the correct way to stretch my feet. I was fortunate to come across a teacher that gave me the exercise to re-work my conception of correctly stretching my feet. We were told to sit on a chair (or couch) and put our legs out on a table or another chair and stretch our feet towards the flat surface of the chair or table. I questioned as to why it was better to sit in a chair or couch rather than on the floor and was told it works better if our legs are suspended in air, that sometimes sitting on the floor can work against you if you have larger calf muscles and by sitting in a chair you're more inclined to sit up straight rather than leaning back. I don't know about all of that, but stretching my toes towards the coffee table while I was watching tv has really helped with the proper stretching of my feet!

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