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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Feet concerns


Clementine

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My dd is 11 and has been dancing for almost 2 years. She is in a small RAD program which welcomes and encourages all. She has been doing well considering her late start compared to many others her age. She wants to try out for other SIs this year and is very passionate about ballet.

 

One of the main issues I worry about is her feet. I recently took her to a podiatrist who specializes in dancers feet because I noticed her feet pronate (her AD had mentioned to me in passing that "she doesnt have great feet"). Long story short - not only do her feet pronate significantly from a structural standpoint but the Dr also said she has "hypermobile feet" and suggested a number of strengthening exercises. My daughter doesn't understand all of this and was really upset that I took her to the Dr to begin with (she is at a stage where she takes any suggestion as criticism when it comes from me). The Dr said that the structure most likely wont change but feels she is young enough that if she works her feet hard - it may help (operative word being may). He is of the opinion that ballet is great for a kid like her but did tell me that he is in the minority and that many podiatrists would discourage her from ballet. He said he knows that our city's main company has a principal dancer with flat feet and we shouldn't let this stop her. He doesn't see any reason why she wouldn't be able to go on pointe though cautioned that because of her hypermobile feet - she may be more injury prone and needs to strengthen. I have talked to her AD about all of this and she is on board with encouraging DD to strengthen and we both agreed to be cautious re: when to put her on pointe.

 

Does anyone have experience with a kid who had such challenged feet but was still able to become a successful ballet dancer or should I face the fact that no matter how hard she works - she may never be able to excel in ballet because of her feet?

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I would have to see the feet in order to be of more help, but I can certainly tell you that there are professional dancers who do not have perfect feet, and I can tell you that I have seen improvement in feet even in more advanced dancers.

 

I do think she will have to work on not pronating because she will be at risk for injury if she doesn't get on it, and it sounds like the strengthening exercises couldn't hurt. Have you considered taking her to a well known program close to you to have her evaluated?

 

Oh, and by the way, welcome to the teen years.... :)

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Pronation can absolutely be corrected, and strengthening exercises will help--but the most important thing that helped me with my pronation (aside from repeatedly pointing my feet in ballet class) was fundamentally changing the way I stood at all times, especially outside of class (correct alignment, big & little toes equally on the ground, arch muscles engaged, ankles not clenched, toes relaxed, etc.) and walked (parallel--NOT turned out).

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