The alignment of the feet is of great importance in ballet. Without the correct use of the feet and correct weight placement, the dancer will struggle to use the rest of the body to its full potential. Incorrect use of the feet can also lead to injuries not only in the feet, but in the knees, hips and back. Here are a few easy tips on how to make sure your feet are working correctly, as demonstrated by our own assistant teacher, Peter.
First, let’s take a look at the alignment of the foot in the pointed position while sitting down. This position is practiced from pre-primary ballet, where the foundations for good alignment are laid.
Make sure the ankle and toes follow the line of the shinbone, and that the ankles are together. Don’t let the ankles come apart when the toes are together. In the case of knock knees, keep the knees slightly apart. Maintain a space between the feet to keep them pointing straight forward, not inward.
Rising to check alignment
Rising en demi-pointe in parallel is another chance to check the alignment of the feet. Keep the toes spread out, and keep the ankles gripping in. To rise, make sure your knees are lifted and hips are gripped.
Tip: place a piece of paper or a coaster between your ankle bones and keep it there as you rise. If you drop the object, the ankles came apart, and the weight over the feet changed. Try again.
To check if you have the correct alignment when rising in first position, stand on a step, or with your back against a wall. Keep the heels touching the step, lift the knees, and hold the turnout from the hips. Rise up onto demi-pointe. Don’t let the heels drop back to the wall. If the heels touch the step or wall behind you, your weight is back over the little toe side of your foot. Keep the weight over the centre of the foot with the toes spreading.
Stretch and Strengthen
To strengthen and stretch your feet and your calves, stand in parallel on a stair or step. Keep your heels off the step. Rise up, keeping the weight in the centre of the foot and the ankles together to strengthen the calf. Lower the heels slightly below the step to stretch the calves. Make sure the ankles stay together throughout the exercise.