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I tore up both my ankles in high school as in severe sprains. My left ankle I sprained so badly, it swelled up as big as my thigh and I couldn't walk on it. A couple of days of ice and bandaging and the swelling went down, but it was a very weak side and over the course of a year, I sprained that same ankle several more times (once painful enough that I blacked out). :yawn: My pre-college enrollment physical, and my doctor said that I'd never be able to do much as they were ripped up (little does he know, I played soccer, was a cheerleader, did swim team and figure skated).


Anyway, that's the history. :blushing:


My questions...I've been back in dance since June 05. Just my makeup and a personal preference to often walk on my toes...standing on demi-pointe comes easily and my leg lines down to the toe are pretty and turned out. I have been receiving corrections lately that I sickle my left foot doing petite battements. I do not sickle otherwise. And the thing is, I don't know I'm sickling as it feels the same as the type of point I'd have in say a tendu. I'm wondering if the connective tissue that I tore up badly in that ankle is the culprit? At present, I literally have to look down while doing petite battements in order to check and from time-to-time point my left leg in second to check that my foot/ankle is in alignment.


Anyone have or have seen a problem like this that is perhaps injury related? Anything I can do beyond what I'm already doing? :wub:



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Without doing a detailed examination of your left foot and ankle, I can't say for sure, but it would certainly follow that previous injury would have something to do with sickling. You'll need to pull harder on the outside of your foot in order to retrain the point to be straight. Also stretching the inside connective tissues of the foot while you're seated and resting could have a beneficial effect.

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I think this might be the problem in that one movement because when the leg is straight, the other muscles in the leg working together help achieve a pretty line and straight pointed foot. It is only when the other muscles are released and leg is in the bent position (sort of retire position or cou-de-pied position although I don't notice sickling in retire) that the ankle alone cannot sustain the point.


Would that be a pretty close assumption?

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If you look in the mirror can you fix it? I get corrected for sickled foot sometimes in small jumps and tend to not point my foot all the way when I'm in attitude back. It's not structural...just bad habits that are totally "fixable" if I focus on it.


Maybe it's just something you need to remember to correct when you're dancing to get rid of a bad habit. If your foot isn't sickled all the time, it's probably not too hard to correct with some concentration on it.


Your ankle doesn't have a brain. My teacher Emilietta always says this to us. It's not your foot doing something bad all on it's own...you have control over it.


Assuming of course that it isn't some structural problem, which it probably isn't if it's not constant.

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Sickled feet are very easy and natural. Divers and martial artists sickle as a matter of proper form for their endeavor. The experience you describe is common, I don't think you need any exotic injuries as an explanation for sickling.

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I only question it as it is one foot and not both. You'd think it would be both and on more than just one move.

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You could certainly be right, I don't know, I can't see you.


But with everything you've said, it's not immediately clear to me. It's common that one foot is "smarter" than the other. It's also a fact of dance that we're never fully aware of our bodies --- awareness is built in stages in the dance training. So it's quite possible that you're sickling in other places, but it hasn't been brought to your attention yet.

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  • 9 months later...

Sickling is a curving of the ankle that is not in line with ballet aesthetics. Its opposite is called winging.


For sickling, tendu devant, if possible in profile to a mirror. In theory, your larger toe(s) should be in contact with the floor and you should see a straight line down your leg to the floor. Now, relax the heel of your working foot so it bends down toward the floor and distorts the line of your leg to make a scooped shape away from you, and so you feel the contact with the floor shift to the smaller, more lateral toes on your foot. That's sickling.


For winging, picture an arabesque in which the person's working leg is straight, and you see a nice, straight line from hip to toe. Now take the toes and raise them towards the ceiling, bending the ankle to curve the line of the leg. This is winging. It takes your gaze up, but bends the line of the body in order to do it.

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Oh, thank you very much. I was wondering too what "winging" was and you answered both beautifully. I did what you suggested for sickling and winging but I had to really work at it to see and feel what it is. Does that mean, I wouldn't have to worry about doing either accidentally while dancing? Is this something that is done naturally that a dancer would have to work at correcting? I know that sounds confusing but it was hard to write what exactly I want to ask.

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Sickling and winging come really easily to lots of people. If you have to work to see and feel those effects, I see that as a good thing in that it might mean your body naturally tends toward proper alignment.

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The thing is a coreographer may ask you to wing your foot but they will never ask you to sickle it (atleast in classical ballet).

Some winged feet are pretty feet, but some people wing so much it looks totally gross!

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