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 Post subject: pointe problems
PostPosted: Sat Apr 19, 2003 3:29 pm 
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Joined: Fri Apr 18, 2003 11:01 pm
Posts: 5
Location: nelson , canada
i was wondering if someone could explain to me why i can't stand on full pointe. i'm starting prepointe/pointe class in about a month. i'm 15 and started ballet about two years ago and i can't figure out why i can't stand on the flat surface of the box unless my knees are bent

help!!!


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 Post subject: Re: pointe problems
PostPosted: Sat Apr 19, 2003 4:57 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 22, 1999 11:01 pm
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Location: SF Bay Area
Hello, torrence, and welcome. I am moving this thread to the Students' Questions forum where one of the teachers will see it.


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 Post subject: Re: pointe problems
PostPosted: Sat Apr 19, 2003 5:03 pm 
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Location: Guildford, Surrey, UK
Hi Torrence and welcome.

Well for starters two years is not that long a time to have been studying ballet and be on pointe. However if your teacher has assessed your readiness then he or she must be happy that you have the required strength in your knees, feet and ankles and also the correct technique on demi pointe to facilitate you going en pointe. therefore really concentrate on the what makes you able to keep your knees straight on demi pointe.

When you go one full pointe it is important to think that you are going up and over onto the box and not just going up. It is also very important to make sure that you are engaging your upper leg muscles as if they are not engaged then you will not be able to keep your knees straight.

Has ypur teacher given you any advice/comments on this problem?


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 Post subject: Re: pointe problems
PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2003 6:13 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 05, 2001 12:01 am
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Location: Wisconsin
A common exercise for those beginning pointe is this:

Stand facing the barre (two fingers from each hand on the barre - don't grip), feet in parallel. Demi-plié, then roll up en pointe. The two-finger method comes in handy here - you can't grip the barre to help you roll up. Then slowly (and I mean slowly) start rising from demi-plié. Pay close attention to your positioning over your boxes. Keep everything properly aligned, and stop when you feel you can't maintain your alignment. Then roll down and start again.

Hope this helps!


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 Post subject: Re: pointe problems
PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2003 12:55 am 
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Joined: Fri Apr 18, 2003 11:01 pm
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Location: nelson , canada
thanks for the advice bree!
i know that 2 years isnt' that long , but my kneed and ankles are pretty strong because i'm also a synchronized swimmer. i dance and 2 different studios , one teacher wasnt' really sure when i asked her because he doesnt' have very much experience in teaching pointe , and my other teacher which will be teaching me pointe said that it is something we will work on when i start having semi-private classes and gave me some excercises to work on at home similar the the excercise bree reccomended


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 Post subject: Re: pointe problems
PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2003 10:47 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 27, 2003 12:01 am
Posts: 200
Location: New York
It's possible that you just don't have enough flexibility in your feet yet to be able to go all the way up onto the platform. Is you instep not very pronounced? It'll come with a little time. I actually had the opposite problem when I started pointe, going WAY over the box. Strong feet (as a generalization) tend to be less flexible. Consider yourself lucky, some people's feet are so loose it's difficult for them to build strength.


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 Post subject: Re: pointe problems
PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2003 4:05 pm 
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Location: nelson , canada
yes lampwick i think that might be it , one of my teachers said that she had the same problem that you have , and she said that she had to tie little strips of embroidery thread on her shoes so her feet wouldnt' fall out. but anyways , i think its probably just my instep that is very flexible because when i'm on demi-pointe i can't get very far up
i guess its just something i need to work on , thanks for your input!!


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 Post subject: Re: pointe problems
PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2003 4:17 pm 
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Location: New York
Torence,
I think the problem is that you DON'T have a lot of flexibility in your feet. You will develop this over time. And you're lucky to have a strong foot. I think it's actually easier to develop flexibility in your foot than to try and build strength (although you'll need both)

I have a question for teachers regarding this. Would anyone advocate going OVER the box in plie en pointe (parallel or first) in order to stretch the insteps?

It's been a LONG time since I've had a pointe technique class. I seem to remember doing this as a barre exercise.
Is there any inherent danger in this? I could see someone over stretching or exasperating a problem if they alredy have very pronounced insteps and weak ankles. Or they could twist thier ankle.

With a strong, straight foot without much flexibility, is this a good idea, or is there a safer way to obtain the same result?

<small>[ 21 April 2003, 06:21 PM: Message edited by: lampwick ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: pointe problems
PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2003 4:50 pm 
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Location: New York
Actually, I just realized that doing this from tendu in second would probably be the better way to go. Tendu side, push over the box, come back to tendu(making sure there's no weight on the working foot), close. A teacher watching could ensure that no sickling is happening.
sorry.


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 Post subject: Re: pointe problems
PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2003 7:11 pm 
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Location: New England
The best way to stretch the instep, in my opinion, is to learn how to stretch the instep in tendu exercises; articulating through the toes, etc. The reason for this is that your instep ultimately stretches as a part of the WHOLE leg stretching. Trying to stretch the feet with the knees bent is of limited value because you're not stretching the entire ensemble together. Stretches that fall into this "limited value" category include going over the the platform in pointe shoes, and sticking your foot under something while sitting on the ground (because your leg can't be completely straight while resting on a flat survace).

Other than having my feet stretch themselves in every tendu, I stretch my feet during stretches with the leg on the barre. That way I can reach over to my toes and gently manipulate the foot even while the entire leg (and foot) is stretched.

If you already know how to stretch your feet, pointe exercises provide an opportunity to stretch them while standing on them, which seems to stretch them further faster than all but the most carefully planned exercises in soft shoes.

<small>[ 21 April 2003, 09:12 PM: Message edited by: citibob ]</small>


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 Post subject: Re: pointe problems
PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2003 7:44 am 
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Joined: Mon Sep 10, 2001 11:01 pm
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Location: Scotland/France
The advantage of pushing over the box of the pointes with bent knee(s) is also to provide a bit of leway in the shank of the pointes. When you're a beginner, your foot is usually not strong enough to go 'against the shoe' (but I generalise, of course, there are some very bendy feet out there, and you have to be careful not to damage those) so by bending the knee and pressing against the shoe, that shank may get a bit more flexible. It's better to do it this way than bending the shoe with your hands or with a tool, as it may bend at the wrong location. This way, you're sure it bends in the middle of your foot, where it's needed.

Other than that, the advantage of doing this exercise is to feel the stretch you should feel when on pointes. Then, you need to try to reproduce that feeling when doing a simple dégagé. And even a dégagé 'seems' simple enough, but on pointes, you realise how hard it actually is ;)


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 Post subject: Re: pointe problems
PostPosted: Thu Apr 24, 2003 7:47 am 
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Location: New England
Thanks, balletowoman, I did not know that there was a reason to help out the shoe as well as the foot.

But I will stand by my assertion that stretching the foot is best done with the legs straight. And the foot should be just as stretched with or without pointe shoes. There really are ways to stretch it that much in soft shoes as well.


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 Post subject: Re: pointe problems
PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2003 7:35 am 
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Location: Scotland/France
Quote:
stretching the foot is best done with the legs straight.
Yes, I agree and think also that the work on 'flat' is as much if not more important than the one done on pointes to stretch the foot. :D


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 Post subject: Re: pointe problems
PostPosted: Fri Apr 25, 2003 12:29 pm 
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Location: Seattle, WA. USA
All good responses! The exercise that Lampwick suggests is one that I have my students learn and do, not only to the side but front and back as well. We also do a variation on the roll up one, where they start parallel (which is great for checking alignment throughout the legs - particularly looking from the back). They roll up to pointe, demi-plié (yes, "rolling over" but not "knuckling"), straighten/stretch the knees (trying to keep the sense of arch in top of the foot -- where the ribbons cross in front and below), and then roll down. I have them do this starting in parallel first, then graduate to turned-out first, and eventually to second and fifth, finishing with a passe-pied to sous-sus and a balance. [Four total in each position, w/two in fifth w/the R foot front, passe-pied L foot front, and then the final passe-pied for the balance ending.]

In general, I have students finish most pointe exercises up, as I feel that trying to capture a sense of continously rising or going up, provides the best training, and think that we cannot practice balancing enough! (Those new to pointe and/or these exercises keeping their hands on the barre.)

I have summarized the routine that I build my students to in my teaching book. If anyone would like me to pass these along, please feel free to zap me. Most of these are geared for students new to pointe and are fairly standard-issue stuff, but may be applied to those more accomplished.

As a fun aside, I have to relay the story that Francia Russell told about Janet Reed at Miss Reed's memorial service. She described how Miss Reed advised the (NYCB) dancers to hop/jump up and down the stairs (on pointe) to the dressing rooms backstage at City Center. As I recall, Francia said they tried it and while it worked for one thing (I've forgotten the original thrust of what the outcome was supposed to be) but neither could they feel their feel, as they were totally numb! ;)

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Dean Speer
ballet@u.washington.edu


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