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Tips from TBA Teachers: How to Improve Your Pointe Work and Pointe Range

Having your first pair of pointe shoes and finally being allowed to dance in it is an achievement reached for many dancers.

However, the progression to this next stage of your dancing should depend solely on your strength and coordination, so you can develop this new aspect of your technique safely!

Age or level alone should never determine when you begin pointe work.

Why improve your pointe work?

Pointe work requires a lot of strength, especially in your lower legs. You are holding your entire body weight on a very small paper mache box. Hence, strengthening your calves, ankles and toes, as well as improving your stability is a must, in order to safely maintain your weight on the tip of your toes.

How to improve your pointe work and range?

There are many ways to improve your pointe with or without accessories.

Here are some exercises you can do regularly to improve your pointe work

Exercise 1 : Calf Raises

You can perform the calf raises in second position with or without the barre. You should do the calf raises in both bare foot and in your pointe shoes to ensure that you develop enough strength to rise up on to the platform of your shoes.

Step 1:

Face the barre in second position.

Step 2:

Rise up onto demi pointe or the platform of your pointe shoe.

Step 3:

Lower by rolling down through the demi pointe.

Exercise 2 : Calf Raises on one leg

This is similar to Exercise 1, however more strength is required for this one.

When trying out the single leg calf raises in pointe shoes, make sure that you’re not leaning on the barre and pushing yourself up using your arms. As this prevents you from training the strength in your feet and ankles. If you’re struggling, go back to bare foot.

Step 1:

Face the barre with the working leg in cou-de-pied.

Step 2:

Using the supporting leg, rise onto demi pointe or the platform of your pointe shoe.

Step 3:

Lower by rolling through the demi pointe.

Exercise 3 : Altered Releve

You can perform this exercise in parallel, first or second position. Start by doing it barefoot first then try it out with your pointe shoes.

Accessories can be used as well, such as a tennis ball placed between your ankles.

Step 1:

Stand in parallel with or without a tennis ball between your ankles, just underneath the medial malleolus—the bony bump on the inside of the ankle.

Step 2:

Rise to relevé, keeping the alignment of the legs in place.

Exercise 4 : Forced arch plies

This exercise will help to create a beautiful arch of your feet.

Step 1:

Start in your best releve, or plie into releve, and push the arches out over your second toe.

Step 2:

Slowly straighten your legs, while keeping the pointed arch you just created.

Step 3:

Think of pulling the ankles away from your foot, to give as much space as possible in the ankle joint.

• Be careful of rolling too far over your big toe, or into a sickled foot. This will put stress on your ligaments and not be productive. Line your ankle up like you did in the ‘Altered Releve’ but in turn out.

Exercise 5 : Toe spread

Whenever we hear "point your toes", it should initiate from working the metatarsals and not scrunching the toes.

Step 1:

Practice rolling from a flexed foot to a pointed foot WITHOUT scrunching, crossing, or gripping the toes.

Step 2:

Try to spread your toes as wide as possible. Imagine what your hand and fingers would look like spread wide, and try to do that with your toes.

Step 3:

Go back and forth from demi pointe to full pointe (like you would with a theraband) trying to "fold" the toes over and down.

Exercise 6 : Toe scrunching

This exercise is to help strengthen the bottom of your feet.

Step 1:

Get a thin towel and lay it on the floor

Step 2:

Put your foot flat on the towel

Step 3:

While trying to leave your toes flat and connected to the floor, pull the towel with the tip of your toes (This will scrunch up the towel under your arch)

Step 4:

Release your toes and repeat until the towel is completely scrunched under your arch



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