Pointing your toes might seem like something that comes naturally and easily. After all, you point your toes during stretches and as part of everyday activities such as reaching for something on top of the refrigerator. But pointing your toes for dance is a different beast altogether. You'll need to not only adopt proper form, but also master safe toe-pointing methods. Strength in the ankles and feet is key for developing proper form and maintaining your posture when you're dancing on your toes.
Limber ankles, feet and calves can help you become more adept at pointing your toes. Try lying on your back and extending one leg straight up toward the ceiling. Point your toes, then roll your ankle clockwise and then counterclockwise. Then switch feet. Next, sit on the ground with your legs extended straight out. Point your toes and hold for 30 seconds, then flex your toes and hold for another 30 seconds.
Strengthening the Feet
"Dome" your feet to practice isolating the right foot muscles. Sit in a chair with your feet flat on the ground, then lift the arch of your foot off the ground while keeping your toes straight; you'll want to slide your toes back toward your heel rather than curling them. While maintaining this position, lift your toes off the ground while keeping your foot flat. Hold for 30 seconds, then return to a neutral position and try the exercise on the other foot.
Strengthening the Ankles
To strengthen your ankles, stand against a barre or sturdy bookshelf to steady yourself. Keep your spine straight, and slowly raise your heels off the ground and hold for 30 seconds. Then elevate yourself even more by using the muscles of your legs to rise to the balls of your feet, keeping your arches curved. Finally, sit on the floor with your legs extended straight out. Using the muscles of your legs and ankles, push your feet down toward the ground as far as you comfortably can, focusing on getting your toes to touch the ground. Hold for 30 seconds.
One of the most important exercises for strengthening your feet for pointe dancing requires you to simply move through the various motions your dance routine requires. For ballet dancers, this means pointing the toes in each of the five positions. It's important to focus not just on getting your feet into a pointed position, but also to ensure that your entire body forms a clear line with your arms and legs in the proper position. Turning out the legs too much, for example, can result in hip and ankle injuries. Take regular breaks from your strengthening exercises to focus on mastering the mechanics of proper form.
- Dance Magazine: Pre-Pointe Conditioning Exercises
- The Ballet Companion; Eliza Gaynor Minden
- Pointe Magazine Online: Your Best Body -- Bad Feet?
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.