Saturday, February 2, 2008

Dance Pointe Shoes - Setting Realistic Goals

Get your copy of highly effective yet simple exercises for training in dance pointe shoes. Even before you explore getting exactly the right fit, or the brand of pointe shoes you will look for in the ballet store, choosing your daily routines carefully will give you an edge in the competition of the ballet field.

Here are some areas to focus on and analyze for yourself. I hope the male ballet students read this too, because any pre-pointe exercise (and everything is pre-something) that is chosen because a student understands the anatomy, the function, and the aesthetic of a ballet exercise, will also help a male ballet student understand the ways to both stretch and strengthen his feet.

Do you have tight joints/ligaments/muscles in the ankle or foot area or are you hypermobile?
(hypermobile is what every dance student wishes to be. However, there are problems in the highly arched foot, just as there are problems in the foot that doesn't curve over the top of the instep.

Also, the audience is not aware of the aesthetics that dancers and choreographers are obsessed with. I once took a neighbor of mine to see Swan Lake. The ballerina was a very popular dancer who had highly arched feet. My neighbor is a trained artist, familiar with human anatomy. Sometime during the ballet, she leaned over to me and whispered "what's wrong with her feet?" Later she confessed that it made her feel nauseous to see the ballerina's feet pointe like "they are broken".

Quite a new experience for me to hear THAT.

If you need more flexibility in the ankles and foot, did you know that stretching from the knee down can help with that? Using a soft rubber ball, knead the muscles of the tibia (shin) by kneeling and sitting on your feet, and placing the ball under the tibial muscles below the knee. Press into it gently,moving the ball down the shin to the ankles, and you will get some relaxation in those muscles. You may feel some very tender spots where tension has built in the muscles.

And next (I learned this from Deborah Vogel) place the ball under your metatarsal area, above the joints, and lean into it GENTLY, and you'll feel a fabulous stretch over your instep area, right where you would like it to curve more.

Do you know how to strengthen your feet?

Did you know that cramping in your feet, lower calves and even upper calves, usually means that your tiny foot muscles are weak? If they cannot do the job, your calf muscles that end down in your foot area, will have to do the extra work.

This results in calf tension which will shorten your demi plie, lessen your ankle flexibility, and prevent the development of the arch you want.

The foot muscles are strengthened by lifting the big toe off the floor while relaxing the other four, then lifting the four toes off the floor while relaxing the big toe. This increases strength and also enhances the brain/foot communication a lot.

Another exercise is like playing the piano with your toes, starting with the big toe, and then starting with the little toe.

Choosing and consistently practicing exercises for your daily routines will help you achieve realistic goals in dance pointe shoes.

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