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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Improving the line of the ankles?


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Hi Ballet Talk!

I know that LindaC posted a thread similar to this not too long ago, but since there were no responses I hope this is okay.


So basically I was wondering what stretches I could do to improve the flexibility in my ankles. It's not like they're horribly rigid or anything like that. However I wasn't blessed with banana feet... I'm one of those dancers that has to really think about keeping correct alignment on relevé and really pushing through the ankles on pointe. While I realize it is what it is, I don't think a little work will hurt! Now that I'm getting to the pointe (pun intended :flowers: ) where I have the option to focus on the finer aspects of dance, this is something that I'd really like to work on. Most of my teachers have reiterated the importance of really working through the floor. Also, I have a medium weight and a heavy weight thereband so suggestions involving those are more than welcome. On a side note I've actually been out of pointe class for a few months (and consequently dancing a lot less) due to tendinitis in my right achilles. So strengthening advice would also be appreciated.




- like.a.star <3

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Star, if you've got achilles' tendinitis, now is not the time to be taking on additional new work. In fact, the protocol for treating that condition may involve stopping all classes for awhile in order to permit the tendon to recover. It's the Big Kahuna of tendons where ballet is concerned, and has to be given a lot of TLC when it gets hurt. Consult your physician for advice on what to do next.

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Yep. Sorry but no exercises at all until that tendon has stopped being reactive.


Have you seen a doctor yet?

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Oh I'm sorry for not clarifying! I've been out of class, but my PT gave me the ok to go back in January. But then my parents were acting weird. They're finally allowing me to go back to dancing six days a week over the summer. The only reason that I mentioned the tendinitis was because I'm not as strong on pointe as I used to be.


Hope that makes more sense!


- like.a.star <3

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Are you still doing the exercises that the PT gave you?

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Of course. I just feel like the majority of them stretch my achilles. The only major strengthening ones are going through demi to full point with the thereband, and relevés/elevés.

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Ok. Here's a basic one that actually strengthens the muscles around the achilles:


Stand in 6th position with one side of your body against a wall. Place the hand that is closest the wall on the shoulder that is farthest away from the wall. Next lift the leg that is closest to the wall by bending the knee, and place the entire thigh of that leg (as much as possible) against the wall forming a right angle with your thigh in relation to your body. Now press into the wall with that thigh for 30 seconds. Repeat with the other side. Do this about 8-10 times in a row.


Also, stand out in the center of the room in parallel position. Begin with one foot by doing "Demi-pointe (weight over big toe, ankle towards body), pointe (use your metatarsals to spring up off the floor a bit to pointe) lower back to demi (rolling through the metatarsals), and lower heel." Change legs and repeat for about a minute. Then work it up to "Pointe, lower. Pointe, lower", and finally to a march. Then start to pull your knees up as high as you can without distorting your alignment, and then "Freeze" with the knee as high up as possible, and hold that freeze for 4 8s. You should find that the supporting ankle will wiggle a bit trying to sense balance, and that simple act of balancing is very strengthening for the area supporting the achilles.

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  • 2 weeks later...
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Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, dance_live_love :)


6th position is a parallel first. Technically, it's not a "ballet" position, it's modern dance, but it is frequently used in ballet choroegraphy and for stretches.

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How does one wing their foot? I was told to do this for an audition photo, but I didn't really understand the term.

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True winging is the opposite of sickling. If sickling is where you allow the big toe to come towards the center line of the body thus leaving the ankle and instep not completely stretched, winging would be where you are pulling your big toe farthest away from your center line thus leaving the ankles and insteps not completely stretched.



( ) rélevé first position sickled feet


)( réleve first position winged feet


II correct alignment over big toe

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