Working on My Feet Everyday

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I did not realize that I had, as people say, "good feet for ballet" until I was probably 11. When you are young, you really do not know how much you can do or what your limits are.

Think about this... When dancers are gifted with beautiful arches, (like Tamara Rojo, Sylvie Guillem, Alessandra Ferri o Svetlana Zackharova) they really did not reach their beautiful footwork in a day. Footwork is not easy.

Being gifted with extremely high arches or "high boots" has its pros and cons. Ballet asks for dancers to point their feet everytime they leave the floor. Thus, pointe shoes require the same action, as that is the only way a ballerina is risen "on her toes."

But how can you stay up when you have extremely flexible arches?

In my opinion, the secret is summarized into ankle and toe strength.

I always try to show the best of my feet. However, in order to achieve holding the positions, I have to make sure they are warm from the ankles to the toes. Not doing so can cause cramping and weakness. Stretching also counts, especially the arches and the Achilles tendons.

So, what do I do to strengthen them?

Theraband is my best warm-up buddy. There is not a day I miss exercising my feet with it. For massage and stretching, I use a small, hard massage ball to roll up my arches.  Steven McRae, Principal with the Royal Ballet, always says,

"If the feet are warm, I feel like the whole body is too".

I also make sure to always use my toes: grabbing the floor and rolling through is very important. With very tendú I do, every passé I start, I try to brush the floor. It is a great feeling once you start to use the toes and that way, you are also strengthening them.

Did I mention that I do not use any padding for my pointe shoes? Well, I love to feel the shoes and thus, the floor. It is my way to stay connected without any interruption, as well as making the effort of having the pointe shoes be part of me.

Keeping up these strengthening exercises will for sure help you. You do not necessarily need to have "good feet", as every dancer can and has the abilities to improve their footwork. For classical ballet, footwork is so important.

Your feet will thank you for the good care, and your dancing will be ten times better.