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Ballet Talk for Dancers



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I expect this question has been asked a thousand times, but I did a search and couldn't find anything! Recently after a class the teacher examined my feet and gave the consensus (sp?) that my metatarsals were surprisingly weak for the amount of ballet that I do-basically a professional schedule, it was also commented on at my last fitting. Any exercises to strengthen them would be greatly appreciated!! I have recently read Gelsey Kirkland's autobiography (the 2nd one) if anyone is familier with it the passage where Monica (Mason) is discussing her metatarsals made me panic a bit! She describes pressing down with each foot so that her metatarsals rose up underneath the skin and were visible running along the foot. Gelsey could only do this with her uninjured foot. I have no injuries but I don't think I can do this-unlesss I am doing it incorrectly!!! I have very strong ankles so assumed my feet were strong too, but I think my feet have been cheating and in a company class situation things like this aren't often picked up on unless there is a pain issue!! Please help!! Is there a test for strong metatarsals-or rather the muscles around them.


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Odette, first a couple of questions. When we talk about the metatarsal area, we're talking about the mid-foot. Do you have unusually high arches and insteps? And second, what's your classload like?


Vocabulary note: It's easy for an individual to have a consensus - the word means "agreement among all parties". What she gave you was her opinion.

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Thanks for the vocab note!! I had a feeling it might be the wrong word to use!! I have a class everyday, but over the summer I do have a break for a few weeks then have three a week. I don't have unusually high arches or insteps, therefore no beautiful but weak bannana feet to explain away my problem I'm afraid!

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Odette, the best thing for adding flexibility and strength to the metatarsal area of the foot stays the same no matter where you go. Battements tendus, jetés, frappés, and pas de cheval. Work through the foot on each of these, carefully articulating the joints of the ankle and foot so that you work the whole foot thoroughly. Do them as slowly as you need to in order to accomplish the kind of prehensile appearance of the foot that shows its flexibility. Using a Theraband under the ball of the foot and pointing can also help. When you do other things in class, like échappés, whether à terre or sauté and any petit batterie, try to think about articulating through the foot. It will help.

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