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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Flat instep

Holly Golightly

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I have very flat insteps. I mean, I can make a straight line with my leg and foot which apparently is enough for pointes, but the instep looks flat and not very pretty. By the way, I am almost flatfooted, and the tiny arch I have comes from dancing. Is there anything that will make it look better (esercises, NOT cheaters!)? I do use therabands, go with the usual good toes bad toes, but I still look flat. Is there any hope for me to develope a nice curve on top of my foot, or should I just let go and concentrate on something else?


I have bbe dancing for 15 years as an amateur, if this helps, and probably the only very good thing about me is that I have very strong legs - at least so says my teacher, and doesn't want people to be close to me when I do kicks and jumps because she thinks I could kill them... :P


I dream of waking up with beautiful banana :whistling: feet all the time...



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Holly, banana feet are not going to happen unless you are born with them. The good news is that you can always make your feet LOOK better by how well you use them. Persistence, patience, and a lot of work in addition to training can make a difference, but just don't expect miracles. :wallbash:

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Pardon my ignorance, but is a flat instep the equivalent of a natural pronation? I also have a very small-to-nothing arch. When I was thirteen, I discovered, to my horror, that my ankles seem to be collapsing over my feet and that they don't line up properly. It's miserable during ballet when other people roll in in attempt to get a perfect turnout, and I roll in by just standing normal!

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Holly, banana feet are not going to happen unless you are born with them. The good news is that you can always make your feet LOOK better by how well you use them. Persistence, patience, and a lot of work in addition to training can make a difference, but just don't expect miracles. :D


I dunno, I usually make exercises but they still look very ugly to me. Is there any particular exercise that might help me a bit? I look simply so terrible on pointe, because of my flat instep, that I was considering to stop at all.


I think flat feet and pronation can be related, but I don't know for sure, nor in which relation they stand.

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Flat feet and pronation are related, as there is not enough arch in the foot to keep it lifted. Arch supports are generally needed for this type of foot. It is not, unfortunately, a good foot for ballet.


Holly, there is only so much one can do, and it takes a VERY long time. Working on your tendus, dégagés, pas de chevals, frappés, elevés and relevés are the best way to improve your feet. Stretching with a theraband is also helpful. But you will not notice instant improvment! It takes years, and everyone has there own limits as to how much can be done. As I said, patience, persistence, and a LOT of work!

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For some reason my physio never wanted me to wear arch supports, but told me to work on them instead!

Erm...I am not sure what you mean by degages and especially pas de cheval. The former I know what it is - at least I think - but I can't figure out how to do them in order to exercise my feet more. Tha latter, I have never heard of - maybe it is something I call with another name? Can you explain it?


You can see the degree of flatness (which is still more than what I was born with!) in the pics I posted in the "bad toes" thread. My doubt is: is that enough for pointe work?


I would be content to be able to stand all upright on my pointe, without knuckling, without falling back; that's all I want to achieve. Is this an obtainable target? that would be enough for me! I know it takes years - it took me so to pass from flat to a low arch :D ! and one foot is more rched than the other.

Thank you!


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Holly, while there is not much arch there, there is development in the instep, and it looks like a strong foot. I think you should be able to get all the way up on pointe, if your technique and placement are strong and you have control of your rotation.


Dégagé (also called battement jeté or glissé) is simply a tendu that leaves the floor. But you work through the floor and through the tendu, so it works the foot just as well. Pas de cheval ("step of the horse") is the exercise where you "peel" the foot off the floor, usually from a demi plié in 5th, and extend it with a tiny developpé action to about 45 degrees off the floor. Come back into the 5th plié and the action of peeling the foot, using the metatarsals, and then pushing it outward is very helpful in learning to really "work and use" the foot. :D

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Yes, I call that battement jeté, degage would also be something slightly different to me. I can't rememeber if I would call the pas de cheval otherwise, but I am sure I have done lots of them a la barre :wink: !


I think it should be a strong foot too, and I am glad to hear that there is a bit of an instep - that means that I can work on it without my strife being for an impossible target! :blink:


I can get on the platform, but I have some problems in the "line". I will post some pics that might show what I mean.

Thank you!!!!


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Knuckling in most cases is a simple strength issue, also not being able to keep the feet maximum pointed when en pointe. It happens when the muscles underneath your foot and your calf muscles are not strong enough to pull your feet up and "out" of the shoes.

What helps?


Ballet! And some Theraband work.

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If you have a natural flaw that have reached the height of correction, like stubbornly flat feet or no turn out, is it actually detrimental in your ability to execute ballet steps, or are they not desired simply because of aesthetic reasons?

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For anyone who might be interested in my funny feet.....and for all those who feel like commenting on them!


Questions of taperhood(?)...here are my all wrong toes...the second it's actually longer, as also the podoiatrist said, but kind of permanently bent at the tip. You can see it better in the tendu picture.










This is the flat look that drives me mad...






Here are some old pointes of mine....they are sanshas recitals - the black ones are an old pair of porsellis. I am posting these pic because they show the wrinkle problem I have at the box, and that strange angle my toes make when pointing. That thing poking out is my little toe. How can I avoid this?








Difference between the two...






This last shows what I mean by saying I think my weight is not entirely on the platform but a bit back - and so is the rest of the leg and so on.


I am sure I am doing something wrong, can anyone tell me what it is and how to correct it?



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Well, this one isnt bad at all: http://i67.photobucket.com/albums/h314/Hol...tly_83/PPL1.jpg


I like the Porsellis better on your feet because they are more tapered- the Recitals are very square, thus make your feet sickle en pointe.


Your feet are narrow and somewhat tapered but as the last 3 toes taper off a lot and your first and second toes do not take up much room, I`d suggest them being between sowmehat tapered and tapered.


All your shoes break in MUCH too low- the 2007 do better than the Recitals and the Porsellis though- seems you are sitting in your shoes causing them to break where they are not supposed to.


Try to point from the ankle and do not involve your toes a great deal- they should follow the line of your feet.

Harder shanked shoes like the 2007 help the knuckling too.

However they have 3/4 shanks and I fear you would sit on top of them.


Anyone more opinions on that?





Oh, may I ask how many pointe lessons you have a week?

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In fact I discontinued the recitals because they were too square for my feet! I am not sure I can grasp the meaning of breaking in too low - would you mind to explain :blushing: ? And...my left foot is better than my right one (I am definately left-legged).


I am currently working on pointing without toes - maybe in time it will get better.


I have pointe classes three times a week. Had them for a long time, if that helps - still regard myself as not a good one though. I started pointe after at least 4 years of ballet when I was doing 2-3 classes a week. I am an amateur, just do it for fun, this has to be pointed (!) out.


I feel a lot lighter in the 2007pro, even if they are an S shank - in the recitals I used to feel as if I were melting down into them.


The problem is that I need a very soft shank to allow me to work more with my demi - thus making me exercise more for my flat feet - but then my crunchable toes get that way...


Any idea as for keeping that little toe in? Wings? Longer vamps? I hate the look it gives to my feet.


I am getting to think that this thread should be moved to the pointe forum as it has taken a direction not originally intended :)



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A shoe should ideally bend just right below your heel, where your arch starts.

Those shoes you wear bend in the middle of your feet.


Your little toe sits much higher than the rest and is extremely small- no wonder it pops out!

Have you tried a longer vamped shoe?

You have medium length-longer first toes- you could probably afford a long vamped shoe.

In combination with a softer shank it may be better for you.

If you like the Grishkos you can try the Maya II- they are a little manieristic, with very long, winged vamps and a great deal of taper- but very nice shoes with the shanks similar to the 2007.

The taper may be too much for you but you wanted to try the Capezio Pawlova which is just as tapered as the Maya II- so why not give it try?



3 pointe classes a week are fairly O.K. for a recreational dancer- its the minimum to keep the strength but it is absolutely O.K.


Yes I agree the thread should be moved!


Ms. DeVor and Clara76, please correct me if I give any wrong suggestions!

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Yeah, it looks like your ankle is just not very flexible, but it looks like you'll be OK once you find a nice shoe. It's certainly a foot that can get up onto pointe OK.


It looks like you have small, but spread-out bones and (I'm guessing)a compressible metatarsal area. Probably contributes to the knuckling too. My feet are kinda like this, and I simply can't wear shoes for too long, or I'll knuckle and "sit" in them and/or pull back out of the shoe in an effort to control the pointework. I think that's why you're getting such a bad warping of the box in your shoes, too. Your feet without the shoes is really not so bad. The shoes are just not very good. It's a tricky sort of foot to fit well.


Your left and right foot are quite different from one another too. You may end up with two different widths.


My gut instinct tells me that shulie's suggestion of grishko Maya2 (maybe the Maya1 if the taper is too much) shoes is a good one. Ms.Devor should see these pics.

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