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Help with pointing feet


jimpickles

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Can anyone please suggest exercises for help with pointing feet in jumps? My feet dont leave the ground pointed. I jump, then point, as two separate movements (and by then I'm coming down again, so my feet never point properly). I'm not rolling through the foot properly when going up, so am not going up with as much force as I could be.

 

I practice rolling through my foot (ie extending ankle, then foot, then toes) when pushing off the floor when there's no weight on it, but as soon as my weight goes back on it, I'm back to jumping off ankle movements only.

 

I presume what I need is some exercises that strengthen while allowing me to make the rapid sequence of moves necessary. Does anyone know any?

 

Many thanks for your help if anyone is able,

 

Jim.

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Battements tendus and degagés/glissés are supposed to help with this, as are the little lifts off the floor (which really have no name) that you're already doing. You can actually put weight on the foot and practice rebounding it off the floor in order to get the point more immediate.

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In my admittedly not very wide experience, I find that the best way I can approximate the feeling of leaving the floor in a jump using the feet fully is when I do a tendu to the side, and really brush through the floor, until the ankle is tretched, but the toes are still on the floor and then "pushing off" slightly with the ball of the foot to get a fully pointed foot or slightly harder to leave the floor in glisses.

 

As I tend/tended to jump from a plie with my heals not making a strong connection with the floor this really helped me, and the last bit of "shooting off the floor" with the toes gave an extra spring and height to my jumps as well as ensruing that they are pointed when they leave the floor.

 

Don't know if this is useful it's just how I've experienced it

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Another thing that helps is practicing coupés, both dessous and dessus, as the movement requires a transfer of weight, and the feet must point immediately they leave the floor.

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My teacher has students sit on the floor with feet against a wall, and then use your feet to push off from the wall, working through the foot into a point.

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Thank you everyone for your suggestions. I suppose my feeling was that the non-weight-bearing ones, though they helped me get the sequence, seemed to fall to pieces as soon as my body weight was put on it. I guess the answer is practice, practice and more practice. Maybe I've been expecting results too quickly (though in my case I'd like to get them before I go into my Zimmer frame).

 

The one of pushing off from the wall was also suggested by my teacher, and this is what alerted me to what I was doing wrong in the first place. It was quite useful, though I got bottom burn and looked like wearing a hole in my tights before I got it right, but that is fixable. I was interested to see that Wembley who suggested it is also from Australia (as I am). Maybe this is a technique favoured by Australians. Where are you Wembley? (maybe we even have the same teacher - mine is Sue Harvey in Brisbane).

 

Anyway, I'll get on with sliding across the floor again, though sitting on something better this time, as it seems to best way of doing it.

 

Many thanks everyone for your suggestions,

 

Jim.

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Jim, another good method is to stand between two parallel barres, or in the corner of a room where two barres meet. If you are in the corner, face out from the barres, and use your arms to help you push off the floor. Don't do the jump by totally using your arms, but just to support your weight while your feet feel the push from the floor. Doing it this way allows you to do it in slow motion, so that your legs and feet can really understand what they have to do.

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I think of pointing my feet at the floor. The same way you'd point out something of interest with your hand. Use your feet to point at the floor.

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:lol: jimpickles, I am assuming you are a guy. If I'm wrong then please forgive me. Pointework does wonders for the problem you are having because you get that extra work on the last part of the tendue except you have weight bearing on those metatarsals as you go up. A releve sur les pointes is the same as a tendue only it is directly under you and it bears weight, just as saute is the same as a releve except it leaves the ground. One done properly improves the other. I've heard that men that have the opportunity to do pointe finally "get" what it means to tendue properly because of the strength that is developed and the sensation they feel when they go up those last few inches from demi-pointe up to their pointes. It also explains why pushing yourself away from the wall sitting down gives the kind of sensation you need to feel as you leave the ground in a saute.

 

However, with time, one should be able to learn how to tendue and degage properly without having to do pointework at all. Lots and lots of releves; on one foot, on two feet, saute from one foot to the other...etc.

 

One other idea, when doing releves think of bringing your knees together just an instant before lifting your heels off of the floor into your releve (I'm speaking of releves in first position.). Doing this will strengthen your leg muscles all the way down into your stretched position without any "gaps". A bad habit is to think of releve as just a position you get to after you plie but there is quite a bit of movement in between which can utilize so much more power and strength as you go into the releve. The legs should straighten first and then the heels are lifted. ( And in that releve, make sure you're making it as high as your skeletal structure will permit, that will utilize all the muscles in your foot that will help in the sautes. ) Also, bringing your knees together will probably help you to jump off of the ###### of your feet, instead of your heels since once your legs are straight you must lift your heels to get off the ground.

 

I hope that helps.

 

Candi

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(I forgot to add) The reason I asked if you were a guy in the above post was because one reasoning for the controversial subject of guys studying pointe is to helps with things like tendue.

 

Candi

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Thank you Candi, Lampwick and Victoria for your responses. I really like the method Victoria auggested of supporting some weight with the arms and pushing off, because it teaches how I'm meant to be moving while under load - and I can vary the load with my arms. Its really helpful, though my kitchen benches are a bit low for me. So I'm going to have to invent something better, as I dont have a barre at home (yet). And pointing the toes like fingers at the floor is also a very helpful image.

 

And with luck I will begin some pointe exercises at the barre in a weeks time or so - when classes start again in 2 weeks time they planned to do this. The appropriateness of pointe for men was discussed in a lengthy set of postings some time ago, the thread being eventually being closed by Mel as it was turning into another "men and pointe" discussion (i.e. not to be started again here!). However I had been hoping that it would indeed help with this issue. Whether or not that happens, has today been thrown into doubt because of the problem of getting shoes. I've just found out that the girl who was meant to have ordered some modified ones from the Bloch factory left her job some time ago and done nothing about it, so whether ones in my size can be obtained in provincial Australia is still uncertain.

 

Also Candi's suggestions for proper moving through the legs and feet will be very helpful. I am indeed guilty of leaving the ground before my legs are straight. In this, as well as in straightening of the foot, I'm aware that I'm not making the movements properly progressively, and am only using a little bit of the range possible.

 

Since I'll be in Sydney in a couple of weeks time, if there are any Australians on this board who know any shops in Sydney which might have large size pointe shoes, I'd be very glad to hear from them (not Bloch, since I know their range already).

 

Many thanks,

 

Jim.

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Jimpickles, just a reminder about doing pointework, if your tendue and releve are even somewhat weak it will be multiplied while on pointe and could be very dangerous for you. Although I'm not telling you you shouldn't do it, only your teacher can really know what level you are capable of, I just want you to understand that just going onto pointe will not fix the problem. And I hope what I said did not imply that. In fact, it will probably make your weakness that much more apparent. But if you're doing it in a carefully structured and paced class situation with a teacher that is sensitive to your weaknesses, you may be able to feel your tendue more acutely and be able to improve it. Just be very very careful. Normally a tendue is mastered before going onto pointe, not after, so you are putting yourself somewhat of a risk. A broken ankle or foot is much more ugly to work with than a weak tendue and much more painful! :thumbsup: All in all-Good Luck! :)

 

Candi

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Jim, I'm sorry about the previous thread, I don't think I was communicating very well, I didn't want to get into men en pointe.

 

The basic issue is, I suspect you're just not ready for pointe training at this time. I can't see you and can't know for sure, but my guess from your posts and questions is you're not. I know your teacher may think otherwise; unfortunately, I've seen teachers put too many adult students en pointe WAY prematurely, and I watch the students struggle but never make it to the positions they should be achieving, so they're just training their body wrong, to no benefit.

 

That's all I was trying to say, for your own safety, progression and enjoyment of ballet. These issues are the same no matter what your gender or ultimate goal of pointe study, even if you're just doing 15 minutes at the barre.

 

Like so many others, I totally recommend working on tendu. As for jumps, we do our first jumps in the center very small and fast. The goal is to practice extending our legs and feet FULLY, just a millimeter off the floor. You're actually in the same position (or almost the same) as you would be en pointe, except that you come down immediately, rather than staying up there indefinitely. After that, now that we've reminded our legs and feet how to straighten and roll through the foot while leaving the ground, we jump higher --- which is by necessity slower, e.g. Newton's law of gravity.

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Well, it is impossible to jump even one inch off the ground without extending from the ankles, at least a little, so it seems to me that at least the toes are heading in the right direction and it is just a matter of patience, practice and time before they become reasonable from a ballet perspective. People have given some excellent suggestions for practice. To help learning to roll through the foot while jumping I used to practice sautés holding onto the back of a chair and pushing as I descended to slow everything down. I don’t know if that helped, but thought it was useful.

 

I think one thing that helped me when I started was to completely change my thinking about doing the simple sautés in center. At the time I could still jump fairly well and would generally try to jump high. The result of this was to always to get behind the music and to have what I’ll call “floppy” feet during the jump. My problem was that I was thinking of simple sautés as a jumping exercise rather than as an exercise for the foot, where the foot lightly caressed the floor and pushed off easily and landed gently. Once I started to deliberately not jump high and just work my feet, things seemed to improve. I would never say that my feet are exemplary during a jump, but at least they are a whole lot better than when I started.

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