This exercise is to strengthen the action going from ¾ pointe to full pointe, and back again. Naturally it will also strengthen the foot for jumping and landing well, through the foot. It is done in pointe shoes, so boys if you don't have any, go to The Ballet Store and start browsing!.
Start facing the barre in first position. Press up onto pointe, hold it, relax shoulders and neck, and as slowly as you can, move down to ¾ pointe. Then, as slowly as you can, press back up onto full pointe. Repeat this until your feet muscles are tired, or your calves need a stretch. Come slowly down onto flat, through the metatarsal joints, and then do a relaxing demi-plié. Repeat.
This is also an excellent warm up for class, especially pointe class.
You can also do it behind the barre if you have a tendency to let your weight drop back at the bottom of your demi-plié.
If you cannot do this exercise, you can strengthen your foot by using a stretchy band. Sitting on the floor with legs straight out in front of you, and your feet flexed, position the wide stretchy band behind the toes. Then press the toes up and down, increasing the resistance in the band. You can do the same in slightly broken-in pointe shoes - just sit, and flex and stretch the toes in the pointe shoes. I recommend that once you've worn out your first pair of pointe shoes, don't throw them away! Start wearing them for ballet class as soft shoes, because the extra resistance you get from the soles will only strengthen your feet further. You can take off the ribbons for your next pointe shoes, and adjust the elastic if necessary, for the exactly right feel and look without ribbons.
Last update : Friday, 13 July 2007