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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Can I start ballet lessons for the first time with falling arches

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I have looked through your archives about falling arches (i have been diagnosed by two different orthopedic surgeons as having such). All of them were about people who had either started having their arch collapse after a dancing incident or someone who thought their arches were falling from a dancing incident. I am not a ballet dancer, but I have wanted to be from a young age. I want to know before i put myself into a place where i am likely to be turned down if I can start Ballet lessons even though I have severe falling arches. I currently wear custom inserts, and my feet have not been as strong as they needed to be sense a running injury in 7th grade. (i was 12) I ripped a tendon and was forced to run on said ripped tendon, causing my tendons to lose strength and start to collapse my arch on my right side. As i got older the constant strain of just walking with no inserts caused my left to fall in turn. I am currently 21 years old and would really like to look into starting dance (even if my grace is not up to my own standards). Anyone have any advice for me?

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Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, Thes, and to the Adult Students forum.

If you find a studio with a good provision for adults, there's no way you'll be tuned away! I've gone to many studios, and many adult ballet classes, and no-one's ever been turned away unless they are doing something unsafe for themselves or others, or are disrespectful to classmates or the teacher (although I've never seen that at all!) But you should tell your teacher about your injuries - a good teacher will ask students to let her/him know about injuries at the start of a class.

You need to find a studio where there is a slow Beginner's class - preferably a course where you sign up for a sequence of lessons, so you can learn progressively. If you look in the Pre-pro section of this message-board, you can find a school or studio near you, then contact them, or check their website, to find out about an "Absolute Beginners" class. There are more and more of these as ballet for adults has become quite a popular pursuit.

With your injuries, take advice from a physiotherapist about what is safe for you to do. Take it sloooooowly. You will find some of the way your body needs to be for ballet is not 'natural' so it can take about 6 lessons or so before you start to feel like you know vaguely what you're doing.

You'll need that time to build strength, locate the muscles that create the turn out of your legs and feet, and also engage abdominal muscles to keep your torso strong and stable and calm while your legs and ams are moving all over the place. 

Ballet is less about the feet, than it is about your alignment, your spine, your abdominal muscles and your back. And 'fallen arches' won't matter - you'll start to develop strength there that could actually improve your condition. Have a look in this section at Ms Clara's pinned note about alignment - it's about your spine, and the relationship of your spine to your pelvic girdle and your shoulder girdle. There are also some exercises you can do for the small muscles in your feet: try picking up a tea towel with your toes. Or look for examples of  "Doming" the foot on YouTube - you'll see how these very simple exercises can prepare you for the way your feet need to work in a ballet class. And when you get to class, pay attention to tendus! They are the one simple basic exercise that help you do everything with & for your feet. 

Good luck and welcome to the wonderful world of adult ballet! And do keep us in touch with your ballet journey.


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Miss Persistent

I agree with Redbookish! Find a good school with an absolute beginner class. In my experience there are too many schools where the class on the timetable says "Beginner" but is full of all sorts of people who have danced for all different lengths of time. To me, an absolute beginner class, or even a short course will give you the real basics you will need to get the most from ballet.  If the class is just a "Monkey-see, monkey do" where you copy the teacher or other students - get out.  Ballet can't be osmosed or just "picked up" you need a good teacher who teaches technique, not just expects you to 'get-it'.  You need to learn ballet properly and sequentially from the start.

As far as foot strengthening, there are lots of great videos about that online.  Some of my favourites are from a dance physiotherapist called Lisa Howell who gives basic exercises about training the muscles in your feet.  You could try some and see if they help.  Here are some to start with and goodluck! I hope you end up loving ballet class as much as we all do :)




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Adult requirements for a ballet class are quite different from those who are on a professional track children’s. All are usually accepted. As stated above, if you have never had ballet, look for one that is absolute beginner. Some teachers will re-start a beginner class when a new person joins, as well, or will differentiate - bringing the new one up to level while requiring those who had already begun to do more advanced material (altering the exercises, in other words). 

In my experience, (wide-ranging and very long in years) no adult has ever been turned away from an adult class due to any infirmity. 

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