Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Right Pointe Shoe and 'Bad' Ballet Feet

It is pretty awful that when I search Google and "bad ballet feet" comes up with over a million sites and "the right ballet feet" or "flexible ballet feet" comes up with between eight and two results. It is a cultural bias that persists in the world of ballet, yet many many famous ballerinas did not have 'the right ballet feet', Margot Fonteyn, a legend, for one. But, if you have bad ballet feet, or think you do, let's talk about the right pointe shoe.

A less flexible ankle joint, requires a pliable pointe shoe usually with a lower vamp, unless the toes are long.

There are so many shapes and styles of pointe shoes. You must take time to try many on, and be fussy. Even if one type feels good, try on all that are in the category of "more pliable".

If a shoe feels good (none of them really feel GOOD), try on a half size shorter/longer/wider/narrower, just to be sure.

Do a demi plie in each one, making sure that your toes are not completely squished into the box, with pain. You need some "squish" room, because the feet spread when you plie.

Be sure to take your toe protectors to try shoes on. Take tights to put on your feet. With one foot (standing on flat with the other) press up onto a pointe position in a try-on shoe. See if your foot places onto the platform easily, and feels the whole shoe, except for the middle of the sole, or shank, which will not bend yet.

Use something for a barre and rise up onto pointe with both feet. Make sure you can rise onto the platform completely.

The right feet for pointe shoes, are feet that have been wisely prepared for pointe. Special foot exercises can be done for months before a student is ready for pointe classes.

As a matter of fact, there are NO BAD FEET IN BALLET. Except maybe those feet that have had no preparation with special training, for strength and flexibility. Get the right exercises and plenty of practice for your ballet feet, and you'll be ready for the right pointe shoe.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Stretching After Exercise For the Long Leg, the Straight Leg

You are a ballet student, in contemporary dance classes, or cheer leading, and you cannot get the straight leg look. You know about stretching after exercise, and you want the long leg, straight leg look. You have learned all the good stretching exercises, yet your knees still look bent.

The following tips will help you understand whether you have a structural problem or simply need to know more effective ways to release muscle tension.

The Essentrics Flexibility For Athletes DVD teaches fitness with stretching exercises.

Relaxing the piriformis muscle (your turnout muscle) with a muscle roller stick increases your turnout and enhances relaxation of the hamstrings.

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Kneading down the back of the leg while sitting on the floor, roll around to get at the tense spots on both the inside and outside of the hamstrings.

Rolling to the outside extreme, you can get into the side of the quads, muscles that will pull on the knee joint when holding chronic tension.

You can massage the lower thigh muscles above the knee, and at the sides of the knees. Don't get into the back of the knee area. It is a very delicate muscle that can be worked on by a chiropractor, physiotherapist or massage therapist.

Learning how to release tension in the feet and calves will contribute to your overall muscle relaxation as well.

If a professional therapist tells you that you have tight ligaments around your knees, please do not plan to go home and stretch your ligaments. They are not elastic like muscles.

Take careful note of the professional advice you get. Ballet dancers especially are known for trying drastic and forceful measures to get a straight leg. Please don't!

Keep stretching after exercise and be patient with your muscles. Learn all the expertly taught and professional good stretching exercises with Essentrics Flexibility For Athletes.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Dance Classes For Boys

Because of our current social biases, many boys start dancing later than they would have liked. They know their parents might have a problem with them practicing ballet dancing positions, even if it is for technical support in their hip hop dance steps for beginners. Or jazz, contemporary dance classes, ballroom, and other dance styles.

If you never intend to dance ballet (and, if you do), there are many technical classical ballet positions and technique factors that you would benefit knowing and mastering. For instance, understanding correct ballet posture will help prevent lower back pain injury.

Knowing how to find your real degree of turnout is a bonus. Then, learning how to hold the turnout that you have, will help you prevent many dance injuries.

For example if you're still learning hip hop dance steps for beginners, and have no ballet classes, read up on turn out. Understanding and increasing your turnout will help you move fluidly, and prevent common knee injuries.

If you are older and in dance classes for adults, the same holds true. Any part of classical ballet technique is worth understanding, if you intend to dance for a while.

Most dance studios would love to offer dance classes for boys. Especially in tap dancing schools and beginning hip hop classes, teachers would be thrilled to see line ups to register for their dance classes. And, some do.

And many do not. This is understandable. The cost effect of having a dance class for 4-6 boys can be prohibitive.

Boys who want to be in a dance class have the worst and the best - social phobias, and ironically, what seems to the girls in the dance world, red carpet treatment for scholarships and advancement.

Sometimes it is the simplest of things that determines whether you dance, or for how long. To go from dance classes to a dance company requires dedication. And technical know-how. Learn the real elements of ballet turnout, whatever you form of dance you study, with the book Tune Up Your Turnout.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Higher Leg Extensions In Dance and Ballet

I've had many questions this week about higher leg extensions - so I decided to list some articles discussing the topic:

Get Higher Developpes

Build Strength For Long and Lean Ballet Muscles

The Ultimate Ballet Line - Arabesque

You'll understand that the quads do lift the legs to the front and side, and the hamstrings lift the legs to the back (a gross simplification). And you'll understand how to strengthen the psoas muscle to lift the legs above ninety degrees, and gradually you'll stop straining the quads.