Beginner Ballet – Adults

Beginner ballet – adults!

“Will I Ever Learn How To Dance With Pointe Shoes?”

The truth is it could be a long time before you can learn ballet pointe exercises.

Yet, you can learn the right ballet technique exercises now!

How do you know if your teacher can prepare you for the kind of meticulous technical expertise required for pointe work?

The usual guidelines are:

  • a ballet student has taken ballet for at least three years
  • a ballet dancer has taken three ballet classes a week at least for the past year
  • the student shows the ability to concentrate consistently
  • the ankle joint is flexible enough for the student to rise onto pointe
  • the student understands ballet turnout
  • a student demonstrates strong posture control taking off and landing from jumps
  • the student shows core muscle strength throughout the ballet class

Adult ballet classes are different than the classes for children and younger teens. Adults usually prefer to study ballet with other grown ups.

It is only natural that adult dance students may be shy about their body type, being over weight, or just not having that “ballet look”. But that doesn’t mean they don’t love dance and want to experience it.

Another factor is that adult dance classes have a different kind of discipline. It isn’t less discipline than childrens’ classes, but it is usually up to the individuals themselves to decide how regularly they will attend classes, and whether or not they will, or can, put any time into learning more about ballet technical movements in between their dance lessons.

Different Levels And Ages In Adult Ballet Classes

Most studios don’t have a great variety in adult ballet levels of training. At most you might find a beginner class for adults, and a catch-all course for experienced dancers.

These would be older people who took ballet for years as children, so they will be at an advantage as an adult dancer, having the understanding of classical technique, and some degree muscle memory.

(However these dancers also need a lot of training to regain the strength and control they once had. For that reason, pointe shoes are definitely not recommended for a while.)

Pointe Exercises – Beginners

Adult ballet beginners have different goals for their ballet classes. I once gave semi-private pointe classes to two adult dancers who were not advanced in ballet, yet who had excellent basic technique.

It was evident that they would probably never progress too far towards the more sophisticated ballet moves. However, these ladies really wanted to do some exercises in toe shoes, so we arranged to have semi-private lessons, once a week.

They never got off the barre, but did get up to bourees and chainee turns. Most of the class was slow rises and releves in different positions, and some releve passes, which were about all they had strength for.

But they were so happy! It was a slow, safe class, with close supervision. It would have been nice to have a whole class full of students like this.

Here’s a wonderful example of bourees courants that any student with strong posture and turnout could do: (bear with about 40 seconds of text or scoot past it).

Learn How To Dance With Pointe Shoes As Soon As You Want!

“How do I do that?”

You get The Perfect Pointe Book and this is why. You will learn:

  • ballet turnout exercises
  • the toe swapping exercises
  • the doming exercise
  • correct posture
  • how to release muscle tension
  • how to increase ankle flexibility
  • how to develop control over too-flexible, or hyper-mobile ankle and foot joints

You can become your own expert and be thoroughly prepared long before you go to buy pointe shoes.

Different sections of this top-of-the-line among ballet technique books explore the technical details of every aspect of basic ballet.

You will be instructed on how to do periodic testing of these exercises and you will know when to advance to the next section.

This is excellent for boys and men in ballet too. The ballet pre-pointe exercises will give the male dancers even more finesse in their footwork.

“I Have A Lousy Ballet Body”

If it makes you feel better, so do most people! The ballet body is possessed by the few.

The advantage of the training in The Perfect Pointe Book is that it is about getting your body to execute the correct technical requirements to its own best level.

You may not have the one hundred and eighty degree natural turnout. But you can develop the strength you need to use your turnout to the max.

Your Goal In Beginner Ballet – Adults

If your goal as an adult ballet dancer is to dance in pointe shoes, learn and diligently practice the ballet ballet pointe exercises in The Perfect Pointe Book.

You can eventually prove to your teacher that you are ready for ballet toe shoes.

Click on the dancer image below to get your copy now!.

how to dance with pointe shoes

 

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Pre Pointe Shoes – Recommended?

Should pre pointe shoes be recommended? For everyone? Or anyone?

I am still convinced that pre pointe shoes are built in. They are your intrinsic foot muscles, the muscles in the soles of your feet.

I would rarely recommend split sole pointe shoes for students, except for the most inflexible ankles and feet. I don’t recommend split sole ballet slippers either. A little resistance from the sole of the shoe strengthens the feet.

There are so many different types of pointe shoes. They can be sorted out by your foot type, and selected by a careful fitting.

There are a few really good exercises to strengthen the soles of the foot muscles, and the forefoot muscles. These are good for boys in ballet as well and will strengthen allegro as well as refine landings.

The calf muscles are protected from residual tension by strong feet, and the Achilles tendon is saved from injury by good ballet footwork.

Beginner pointe shoes must fit well, and it is good to be familiar with the different types of pointe shoes. Yet more importantly it is best to be familiar with your own feet. You can be sure about your own strength and capabilities if you use an expert guide.

My recommendation is The Perfect Pointe Book. Take a look and see what you think!

The Perfect Pointe Book

Pre-pointe exercises-practise every day!

 

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Chacott Pointe Shoes

Chacott pointe shoes

Veronese II

Chacott pointe shoes offer the “Veronese II” which comes in both a medium and hard shank.

They ship with ribbons included!

Chacott describes this model as having wingless boxes, easily molding to the foot.

This would mean that these satin ballet pointe shoes are best for a dancer with a less flexible ankle joint.

This shoe is noted as having “minimal break in time”. It would be good for a begininer in pointe class.

To prepare your feet for satin ballet pointe shoes, learn the exercise called Toe Swapping, on our home page.

 

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Trouble With Pirouettes – Some Ballet Tips

Having trouble with pirouettes? Review your basic ballet moves.

Check your fourth position that you’re taking off from:

  • is your postural plumb line in place? Shoulders/hips/ in line?
  • is your ballet turnout held firmly
  • are your feet placed on the floor with no rolling in or heels not firmly holding your weight
  • are your shoulders and waist square

(Some teach that your hips must be square, but this would depend on the width of your fourth position and your turnout. Also, some teach to keep the weight divided evenly between both feet, and some ballet teachers tell you to have your weight on the front foot only. This would affect whether you can keep your hips perfectly square or not).

From your take-off position, can you releve into passe and balance a few seconds? If not here, is the place to check your ballet position. For instance have

  • your shoulders or hips tipped forward or back
  • have you lost your supporting leg turnout
  • are your shoulders lifted
  • is your neck strained?

If your releve and balance in your retire position is strong, then do a quarter turn, balancing for a second. You need very little force for this.  Looking at your spot, you can then bring your head to the front as you descend into fourth or fifth. Finish the complete turn doing quarters, then repeat the other side.Make sure that you do not tilt your head when you leave it behind to spot.

Continue on to single turns using as least force as possible. Come down from the turn with a slow controlled plie, feet well placed on the floor, holding your turnout.

As much as we are taught to pull up in ballet, when it comes to pirouettes it helps some dancers to think of pushing down into the floor. A good spin will feel grounded, with the contact between the floor or your demi or full pointe a stabilizing factor.

The reason why I recommend The Perfect Pointe Book is that besides all the fabulous pre-pointe exercises it shows, it also offers a review of all your basic ballet positions. With the strength tests and exercises, you can improve your turnout, and the postions you will have to balance in, wearing your ballet toe shoes.

These ballet tips will help your trouble with pirouettes!

 

 

 

 

 

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Can There Be Genetic Differences If You Dance In Ballet Toe Shoes?

“Are Dancers Genetically Different Than The Rest Of Us”?

A  Hebrew University Researcher quoted from ScienceDaily (Feb. 16, 2006) – says “Yes”.

How are artists such as ballet dancers different than the rest of us? Genetic variants, reports a study participant at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. ”  The artistic aspect of dancing in performance is including the audience to where YOU go when you are on stage. They are not merely bystanders, they are transporting with you. You change their brain chemicals!

“The dancer “type,” says Ebstein, clearly demonstrates qualities that are not necessarily lacking but are not expressed as strongly in other people”:

  • a heightened sense of communication
  • often of a symbolic and ceremonial nature
  • a strong spiritual personality trait.”

Facilitating your brain with your own nutritional chemicals and neurotransmitters is an art, I have learned – it’s more than eating well and thinking well.

You’ll find the whole article here.

“…a heightened sense of communication, often a symbolic and ceremonial nature, and a strong spiritual personality trait.”…..you have probably experienced that moment when the audience is electrified by the entrance of a powerful dancer onto the stage. It pervades everyone. They are IN that field.

Ballet is ceremonial starting right in class. The world is dismissed while the  students and the teacher works, sharing a field of concentration. All the powerful brain chemicals are activated with enthusiasm.

The brain chemical serotonin is found lacking in depressed people – it is abundant in dancers and other artists. Despite the stressful lifestyles, lack of social support, common disorderly eating (and sometimes eating disorders) serotonin is abundant. It seems to be related to the “ceremonial nature and a strong spiritual personality trait”.

This study reported at  sciencedaily.com is extremely significant. There are genetic differences in artists. It explains the power we call stage presence. It indicates a consciousness that is a component of talent, I think. Not physical ease, but the intangible magnetism where we follow the dancer wherever he/she goes.

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Ballet Foot Muscles And Dance Injuries

Prepare Your Ballet Foot Muscles And Avoid Dance Injuries

The thousands of ballet moves done in the first few years of ballet classes do much to develop strong ballet foot muscles. Yet, to avoid the typical dance injuries, students who hope to go on to dance in ballet toe shoes and train in a pre-professional program, need to do even more.

Foot pain can signal that some area in the joints, soft tissue padding, tendons or ligaments are being over-worked, not worked enough, taking too much impact, or getting strained from pronating (rolling in, forcing the turnout), or continual landings without reaching the depth of one’s demi plie. In many cases, not even getting the heels touching the ground.

Inflammation and chronic pain develops if discomfort is ignored. If soreness does not resolve with rest and ice, you may have a dance injury.

Learning to come down through the foot prevents repetitive impacts on the small bursa, or pads, that protect the tiny foot bones. Controlling your landings with the arch and other sole of foot muscles not only enhances the quality of all your footwork in ballet, but helps avoid:

  • over-work of the calf and shin muscles, preventing shin splints
  • ensures your heels land firmly on the floor, and you reach the depth of your demi plie with control
  • this control ensures your feet accommodate the distribution of your weight like a tripod, with no rolling in or out
  • this control protects all your ligaments and tendons, especially but not least, your Achilles tendon

Special and easy to learn pre-pointe exercises strengthen ballet foot muscles. You can prevent a lot of aggravation, missing classes and performances, if you learn how to avoid dance injuries. And it will help you become one of the best in class!

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Prevent Ballet Injuries In Ballet Toe Shoes

Sprained Ankles and Inflamed Achilles Tendons

A dancer I spoke to recently complained of stiffness in the Achilles tendon, after a full recovery from a sprained ankle. She wanted to stretch out the Achilles tendon.

My take on this is that the Achilles tendon may or may not have been torn when the ankle was sprained. I suspect that the stiffness the dancer is feeling is from scarred ankle muscles. In this situation, I can only assume that the health practitioner who treated the ankle injury would have known if the Achilles had been hurt.

Also, right now, there is no pain in the Achilles, just stiffness in the ankle joint.

The usual calf stretches will return some range of motion to the ankle joint.  Done when you are well warmed up, this will help increase the depth of the demi plie.

When the Achilles tendon is inflamed, it is often the result of chronically tense calf muscles. Calf muscles need to be stretched and relaxed with massage or a Pinkie Ball, after every class. This is done by:

  • sitting on the floor, legs straight and relaxed
  • roll a sports ball under the calf muscle and you will feel tense spots
  • place the ball immediately below the back of the knee
  • press your calf into the ball every inch or so, moving down the leg to the ankle

You will feel tender spots that you can press into, releasing accumulated muscle tension. This will allow for the full depth of your demi plie.

Spaulding ball for release muscle tension

Use for muscle tension - prevent injuries

Try using coconut oil for massing your calves (and feet too!). I suggest this because it is an anti-inflammatory oil. You can scent it if you like.

The sprained ankle may have some scarring, and there is a homeopathic ointment used for decreasing scar tissue called Traumeel. It is a long term project; you may use it for up to a year or even longer. However, there is a strong likelihood that stiffness after a sprained ankle will relieve with careful stretching and tension release in the calf muscles.

Also note that calf muscles become over-worked when the sole of the foot muscles are undeveloped. This becomes a problem when you  aim to get onto pointe. Any muscle weakness, or inaccurate ballet moves or ballet positions, transforms into a  more obvious difficulty once you are in ballet toe shoes.

How To Prevent Ballet Injuries

  • make sure you know whether your feet or strong or not
  • work toward strong feet so that your calf muscles are not over-working

Foot exercises are both described in text and shown in videos in The Pointe Book. This book/video collection of  ballet tips also gives you progress charts and self-assessment tests so you know when you’re getting stronger.

The Pointe Book all about pointe shoes

Learn to prevent ballet foot injuries

 

 

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Do Ballet Toe Shoes Cause Bunions?

I heard a discussion recently about toe shoes and “How to prevent bunions“. As though it is a given that you will get bunions if you dance in pointe shoes. There is no reason to expect to get bunions from doing ballet on pointe.

Bunions are mostly caused by narrow shoes, pointed shoes, especially heeled boots or high heels. Picture for example cowboy boots with a heel. The toe boxes are pointed, and the body weight is sloping down, jamming the toes into the points.

The big toe is crushed on an angle toward the next toe. As the strain on the joint is prolonged over time, the base of the toe will begin to swell and hurt. Eventually that bump appears.

Genes do play a part in an individual being susceptible to developing bunions. However, any genetic predisposition must be triggered by something. An injury of some kind, or wearing narrow shoes over time (which creates an injury) can prompt bunion development.

The street shoes you choose, during the years you are taking ballet classes, before you get toe shoes, should be comfortable and roomy in the toes, fit well at the heels, and should not depend on pressure of the foot to stay on. For example ballet flats and most high heels, or any shoe without ties or straps, must be smaller than your feet, or they will slip off.

Therefore shoes with straps or ties are the only shoes that give your toes wiggle room. Your toes should never  press against the ends of shoes that you wear all day long.

If you already have bunions, your can try wearing a toe spacer between the big toe and second toe, in your shoes and your ballet shoes. The purpose of this is to line the big toe up properly and prevent any more pressure squishing the big toe into the next toe. Be sure that all your shoes are wide enough, especially your toe shoes. If your feet are narrow, get narrow toe shoes that fit, but try them on with the “widget” (you can find various kinds) next to your big toe, to make sure your toes don’t compress.

Whatever your situation, take good, in fact, pamper your ballet feet. Warm soaks and massages are worth your time. Adding Epsom Salts or Magnesium Chloride flakes are excellent for your ballet foot muscles.

Get more ballet tips from The Perfect Pointe Book.

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Ballet Toe Shoes-An Extra Tip For Fitting Pointe Shoes

Exactly The Right Fit – How Close Can You Get?

Here’s a list of the usual items you need to to know ahead of time when you go to fit pointe shoes:

  • is one foot bigger than the other? (wider or longer)
  • do you need a strong or light shank
  • do you need a tapered or square box
  • do you need a low (short toes) or high (long toes) vamp

You’ve worked hard already to prepare for pointe shoes. If you feel you need to do more, check these ballet tips for pre-pointe exercises.

Take lots of time trying on ballet toe shoes. Wear your tights, and include any padding you use, or think you will use. If one foot is bigger than the other, you must get the right fit for the bigger foot. This means you will use some padding to protect the smaller foot and toes from sliding around in the shoe.

Make sure the width and shape is right. Try on a couple of different shapes in the same size that feels right. Double check by trying on a half size bigger, and a half size smaller, even if the fitter thinks it’s a waste of time.

Once you have decided on a size and shape, here’s the extra tip. I am suggesting this because not all pointe shoes are machine made, and there will be a slight variation in the shoes.

Try on a few pairs of the exact same size, width and shape shoe you have chosen.

Not everyone can do this, if their dance store is too small to stock a lot of shoes. But if you can, then do. Some ballet toe shoes just feel better than others.

For a ton of amazing detail on pointe shoes sizing, and preparing for dancing in pointe shoes, get your own copy of

The Pointe Book.

The Pointe Book pointe shoes

All about fitting pointe shoes

 

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Pointe Shoe Sizing – Get Exactly The Right Fit

Fitting pointe shoes.

I’ve had more inquiries lately about fitting ballet toe shoes, and the same old theories pop up. I read the Q & A’s on places like yahoo.com, and similar sites – and dancers are still telling others to get ballet toe shoes 2 (or 3) sizes smaller than your street shoes! Please don’t!!

Pointe shoes come in many shapes including:

  • length
  • width
  • shape of box-wide, tapered, narrow etc.
  • depth of shoe, depth at the heel
  • low or high vamp-the section of the shoe going over your forefoot (corresponding to short or long toes)
  • narrow tapered-box shoes accommodate the Compressible Foot-the foot that looks wide but compresses in the shoe

At the ballet store, try on as many brands as you can. The same size shoe in a different brand may feel different on your feet. In each pair, do a demi plie in a small second position, making sure your toes are not jammed into the end of the shoe. If so, the shoe is too short or too narrow.

Wear any toe shoe padding you plan to use-Ouch Pouches or lambswool will take up space. Wear your tights, not thicker socks.

If you have a highly arched foot you will need a stronger shank, or sole of shoe. If your ankle is less flexible, you can wear a lighter shoe.

If you have one foot slightly bigger than the other, you must fit your ballet toe shoes to the bigger foot. The smaller foot may need some extra padding so that the shoe isn’t too loose.

There are specific foot exercises described in The Perfect Pointe Book to help you prepare for pointe. These exercises will keep you busy for a few minutes a day, while strengthening the smaller foot muscles.

The Perfect Pointe Book also give you tips on how to get more flexible in the ankle joint.

 

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