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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Inflexable Feet!


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I'm an adult beginner with feet that have a low instep and low ankles which do not point very well, although they are great going the other way ie I have a very deep plie. With just a couple of years of classes (with many gaps I should add!) they are definately still weak by dance standards as you would expect after so little dance time, for example repeated releves to demi point on one foot tire them out fast!


Anyway, my question is about what I can do and what can be achieved to get them more flexible. To illustrate just how bad they are: using the 'pointy foot test' in my Gretchen Warren, Classical Ballet Technique book, sitting on floor with legs out in front the ###### of my feet do not quite make it to the level of my ankle when feet are pointed...... pathetic I know! - it just seems to be a family trait.


I can see how this is 'unnacceptable' technically speaking as it means you can never quite get ove the ###### of your feet when up on demi point and even the full 'reach' of a tendu is compromised, and it's harder to use the feet to push off the floor in grand battement - I could go on.....


OK so I am an adult beginner rather than aspiring proffessional dancer and if I can't change them then I will still carry on happily doing my thing :D but now I'm back again after an unrelated injury (hit by car) I really want to work my feet and see what can be done to 'pointify' them.... Obviously (ahem) REGULAR, consistant attendance in class, making the most of the barre work, is going to help and has helped a little bit already but I was wondering what else I could concentrate on specifically for this?


By the way, my right foot is worse than the left and it is also the weaker foot. I can't decide if it is the strength in my left foot which allows it to point better or if its increased flexability has made it easier for it to gain strength...


Most grateful for any thoughts/advice :)

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There's really nothing for it but regular attendance at class. You may also find that stretching the foot outside of class may help over the long run. Do a search on "foot stretches" (with the quotes) to see many examples. Bear in mind, though, that improvement will be a long slow process, even with regular class. Also, after about age 25, all the bones that are going to ossify are ossified, and the ligaments become less flexible unless they were already stretched out before age 25.

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Mel is dead right about the effectiveness of the usual ballet class exercises for the feet. Nothing in my opinion is better. Ditto about how being older impedes progress. But, the good news is that with persistence and practice you will improve. I would never say that my feet are good, but I recall a few years ago watching myself in the mirror doing a ronds de jambe and noticing my right foot as it brushed forward and started its outward arc. I had come a long way and really felt good about it.


So, what to do? My advice is to accept ballet class for what it is, to accept yourself for the abilities you have, and to be patient, persistent, and practice a lot. Oh yes, have fun in doing it all too. In my opinion, the whole point of adult ballet is not achieving an absolute standard of performance, but in enjoying the activity and making improvement.

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Thanks both for your replies and yes I am looking for 'slow fix' rather than 'quick fix' as the latter does not exist in ballet....although I do sometimes fantasize about some kind of 'victorian contraption' with a handle which could 'cure' my bad feet instantly :D ..... well maybe not! Anyway, I know constant strengthening in and out of class is the way to go. And yes I enjoy classes when I can get to them and would even say there is something liberating about being an adult beginner with all that that implies.


Just one more thing: 'therabands' - what/ how/ any good for this kind of thing? Are they like giant elastic bands? - I've never even seen one, sorry to be so ignorant!

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Oh, yes, resistance therapy bands like Thera-bands® are very good. Look for them at your local medical supply store. They come in various strengths and colors, so "try before buy".

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  • 3 months later...

Therabands are awesome. (bicycle tire inner tubes work too, or a couple of pairs of old ballet tights so long as they have stretch left in them)


When i went back to ballet after a 5 year break my instep was nearly flat. Now I have a nice bendy foot - and a teacher who tells me i have lovely feet (when i use them...LOL)


I used to work in an office, so i would tie the theraband to the leg of the desk, loop it around my foot and just point and flex over and over again. also demi point to full point 'toe wiggles' helped.

Edited by appleblossom
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Those "Victorian Contraptions" do exist. And I absolutely recommend you do NOT use them.

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About the fact that there will not be much change after 25: what about the people who are somewhat behind for their age physically? I'm 21, but I've always been very behind development-wise. Didn't get the teeth one usually gets before 12 till I was 17 and didn't quite develop into a woman's body until now. Does that mean the bones in my feet will also ossify later and I can still change them a bit?

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