Flexibility Workout For Dancers

Flexibility exercises for dancers..

don’t always look like ballet barre exercises or modern warm ups. “For some students it is essential they do short brief stretching sequences daily, or multiple times a day.  I like a lot of the effective stretches on the chair because it means they can briefly stretch during their school day and not draw too much attention to themselves.” Deborah Vogel writes this on her blog at The Body Series, in an answer to a teacher who wants to help students with stretches.

Here is one of my favorites, for the turnout muscles: sitting on a chair, cross one foot over the other knee, and let the bent leg turn out and relax. With a straight back, simply lean forward, without rounding the back. Bending only at the hip joint, your movement will barely be noticeable. YOu will feel the stretch around the side of the hip area, and you will be stretching your rotator muscles, which run under the Gluts.

This easy movement will ease out tension from the muscles and give you a great stretch. Hold the stretch for about thirty seconds, release it, and repeat three times each leg. You do not need to any bouncing or pulsing.

Another one using a chair is the hamstring stretch. Sitting on the edge of a chair, extend one leg, foot flexed. Bending from the hip, back straight, a small degree of movement will get you the stretch in the hamstring. Hold for 30 seconds. And, repeat three times each leg.

You’ll see more results in the benefits of stretching this way by more frequent stretching sequences, than doing more repetitions per sequence, but fewer sequences.

Try these two stretches done a few times a day over thirty days, and you will see a difference!

A three-times-per-week workout for dancers and athletes:

For more stretches you can do outside of class, get the DVD  Flexibility Workout For Athletes.

DVD Flexibility Workout For Athletes

A DVD recommended by reviewers and therapists


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Ballet Toe Shoes On Television – “Bunheads” and “Breaking Pointe”

On May 31, 2012     BREAKING POINTE begins!

The Allison DeBona interview.

“We are all basically friends but…”

The Ronnie Underwood interview.

“…taking care of your body, trying to stay healthy…”


“I’m nineteen years old…” wow and she’s already doing some ballet dream roles.

Ballet dancers are special…and expendable. Eek! Oh yes.


starts on Monday June 11th. An ABC Family series. I’ve watched some trailers and it’s a bit…cute. Dancers may both enjoy and shudder at the presentation of ballet on television.

We know the pain and the bleeding feet in ballet toe shoes will be made much of. The conflicts between love, and career will undoubtedly be dealt with. The tough life, the spectre of ballet injuries, the understudy waiting for a chance.

Did I forget anything?

We’ll see how the dance world gets spun…


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“Breaking Pointe” – That Would Be Ballet Toe Shoes?

Ballet toe shoes on reality tv? The CW?

I just read this at http://tvseriesfinale.com/tv-show/catalina-breaking-pointe-cw-tv-series-22649/!

Quote from this report:

“BREAKING POINTE goes behind the stage curtain for an intense, unfiltered look at one of the most competitive ballet companies in the country, Ballet West, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Beneath the beauty and glamour of the dance and costumes is a gritty dog-eat-dog world of extreme athleticism, focus, dedication, passion, pressure and, of course, the hunt for the unattainable… perfection. BREAKING POINTE is produced by BBC Worldwide Productions. Kate Shepherd (“Big Brother,” “Wife Swap”) is executive producer. Izzie Pick Ashcroft (“Dancing with the Stars”) and Jane Tranter (“Top Gear,” “Dancing with the Stars,” “Torchwood”) are executive producers for BBC Worldwide Productions.

Beginning Monday, June 4, weekly encores of both new reality shows will air on Mondays, with BREAKING POINTE airing 8:00-9:00pm and THE CATALINA airing 9:00-10:00pm.”

Wow, ballet on a reality television show! Never thought I would see the day!

It does not seem so long ago that if you wanted to dance in pointe shoes, your friends didn’t really want to know. You were aiming for life in a subculture. Once you are in it, you are in the big world of ballet. It’s huge, because to a ballet dancer, that is all there is. Your concerns are about higher leg extensions, flexibility in your ankles, and getting strong foot muscles for pointe work.

You dreamed of dancing in Swan Lake and Giselle. It was SO special when ballet came on television, if it ever did. You lined up at the theater during ballet season to get the cheap standing room only tickets, because you wanted to go every night!

Anyone still with me?

And now a real ballet company, Ballet West, is going to let us backstage!!

Ballet West was founded in 1963 by William F. Christensen. His early biography can be read here.

Here is the page about his work with Ballet West.

I have never watched reality television. But I think that is going to change with CW’s “Breaking Pointe” . I am curious to see how it represents those dancing in ballet toe shoes, and those brilliant male ballet dancers who dance with them.

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Increase Ballet Turnout For Your Work In Ballet Toe Shoes

What Is Your Potential For Ballet Turnout?

Some dancer’s thighs are in a different position in their hip sockets, which allows more turnout.  And, the hip socket itself can be slanting a little forward, allowing less turnout, or more to the side, allowing for more turnout. You are born with a specific hip socket and thigh shape.  So don’t look at anyone else and compare.

Also some lower legs have tibial torsion, which means their leg from the knee down is rotated outward. It may lead to other problems, but will give the feet a turned out look, while the knees and thighs may not be able to achieve the same turnout.

Now more importantly, how do you hold the ballet turnout that you do have….if you watch dance movies carefully you will see that the most brilliantly artistic dancers in the world are not necessarily born with a lot of turnout – and it doesn’t matter! They are still brilliant.

Your lateral rotator muscles are your prime turnout muscles, specifically:

  • Piriformis;Obturator Internus;
  • Obturator Externus;
  • Quadratus Femoris; Gemellus Superior;
  • Gemellus Inferior.

These muscles lie underneath your gluts, your “big butt” muscles. When they contract your thigh rotates. If your leg is behind you, the gluts and hamstring muscles also help to hold the rotation.

The balance and tone of any muscle comes from its ability to work, and its ability to relax when not working. So having lateral rotators that clench to rotate, and don’t relax in between exercises, do not have the strength they could have. Turning in during class, in between exercises, is a good habit.

When you tendu devant, if your hips remain in placement and your thigh is moving freely on its own, you should be able to rotate to your full natural turnout, even if you cannot always hold it. You may have to practice this with your gluts released, to isolate the rotator muscles.

Gluts don’t increase ballet turnout.

If you sit on the floor, legs straight out in front of you, relax your gluts on the floor.

  • engage your rotator muscles and turn your thighs out without your gluts working.
  • this will help you isolate the rotators.
  • raise one leg  an inch or two off the floor, and hold this turnout,
  • you’ll feel the rotators holding against the flexion action.
  • if your hip comes up too, then you are working the gluts – drop the hip down, holding your turnout
  • you have achieved successful isolation of the rotator muscles!

Here is a book every serious dancer should have, by Valerie Grieg:

Ballet technique turnout

Learn about ballet turnout


There are exercises to test your turnout and increase your strength for it in The Perfect Pointe Book.



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Ballet Toe Shoes – Need An Extra Dance Advantage?

Ballet Toe Shoes – Gain An Extra Dance Advantage

Young dancers usually have dreams of dancing in ballet toe shoes when they sign up for ballet classes. The beautiful tutus, and the pink satin pointe shoes are the picture they have in their mind when they go to ballet classes.

Many adult ballet beginners would like the same, and they have extra challenges to assess and overcome – or let go, depending on what extra dance advantage they feel they can discover to get ahead, or get to the top of their class.

Here are a few tips they may help you learn more, faster, and understand the importance of classical dance technique. And, how some of the most basic details can help you progress faster.

Become More Flexible In These Areas And Why

  • the hip joint and your psoas muscle/for your arabesque
  • the rotator or ballet turnout muscles/for all basic ballet positions
  • the hamstring and adductor muscles/for the positions to the front and side

Those three muscle groups named above will give you higher leg extensions. What every ballet dancer needs. Personally, I don’t like to see the current emphasis in ballet geared toward the gymnastic type of flexibility over artistic talent. But, it is what it is.

A simple runner’s lunge will stretch your psoas muscle, which runs from your thigh, over your hip joint, to the front of your spine. A flexible psoas or ilopsoas mucle, will allow you to bend your spine at the waist and lift your leg high to the back, or to arabesque.

Legs parallel, bend your knees and stretch one leg back to a comfortable lunge. Keep your pelvis straight, and you will feel a stretch over the hip joint. Bend gently a little more, and hold the stretch for twenty seconds, when you cannot bend further.

Twist a little, away from the back leg, without forcing. Hold for ten to twenty seconds.

Now, twist toward the back leg. Don’t force it. This twisting either way, stretches a slightly different area of the hip joint. Repeat the other side.

You have now progressed toward a higher leg extension for arabesque!

Ballet Turnout

You can increase ballet turnout by stretching the rotator muscles in the back of your hip, which are muscles underneath your big ‘butt’ or gluteal muscles. Sit on a chair, and place one foot on the opposite knee. Allow your thigh to relax down into its turned out position. Now, keeping your back straight, lean forward a little over the bent leg.

You will feel a stretch across the back of your pelvis that is increasing the flexibility in your rotator muscles. Hold this stretch for about twenty seconds, and repeat the other side. Then repeat both sides again.

Hamstring Stretch

For your front and side positions, sit on the floor in your widest sideways split. Flex your feet. Lean forward, and you’ll feel a stretch in your hamstrings, or the back of your thighs, but also in the adductor muscles, or the inner thigh muscles. Do not bounce or force it.

Pressing your thighs into the floor increases the stretch. Hold for about twenty seconds, repeat, and repeat the other side.

Always stretch when you’re warmed up, and stretching a little more often is better than periodic intense stretching. I hope this gets you the dance advantage you want to get you closer to dancing in ballet toe shoes!

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Ballet Toe Shoes – How Ballet Barre Exercises Prepare You For Pointe

Ballet toe shoes – how is pointe work prepared for by your ballet barre exercises?

There are many opportunities in your ballet classes to build strength for dancing in pointe shoes. Every barre exercise is perfectly designed to train your muscles to eventually perform the exquisite traditional choreography of Swan Lake, Giselle, The Nutcracker, and also execute the challenging modern ballets.

The plie exercises strengthen your biggest muscle groups. These include:

The Thigh Muscles

  • Quadriceps
  • Adductors
  • Hamstrings

The Back Muscles

  • Gluteals (low back, pelvic muscles)
  • Quadratus Lumborum
  • Erector Spinae

The Core Muscles

  • Interior and Exterior Obliques
  • Rectus Abdominis
  • Transversus Abdominis

The postural control demanded in plies is the backbone of your ballet training. The control of the leg muscles develops a strength that is almost unmatched in the other athletic fields.

After plies come a series of foot movements that engage the muscles that will permit you to dance in ballet toe shoes.

Every time you press your foot from a closed position to an open position such as tendu or degage, you use the muscles that will build your strength for pointe work and jumps. The more you use the floor, exerting as much pressure as you can, the stronger your feet will get.

This pressure into the floor is then resisted by your postural muscles, which maintain your alignment. While your stomach, back and pelvic muscles keep you upright and poised, you will do thousands of battements tendus, degages, frappes and grands battements, all beginning with that foot pressure.

And one tiny section of those movements – the action of the toes leaving the floor, to your best pointed position, is extremely important. That is your last push off the floor to take you into a perfect jump or a confident releve into a pirouette or one of the beautiful ballet positions. Always stretch the toes long, never curl them.

When closing the foot back into first or fifth position, you again press into the floor. There are no movements wasted in ballet training.

As you get more advanced in ballet, any technical weakness will become more pronounced when you are in pointe shoes. Always ask your teacher if you feel like you are not progressing in some way. There are special exercises or stretches a teacher will suggest for you, to help you improve.

Ballet stretches are done to increase flexibility and also release muscle tension. Massaging and soaking your tired feet is important. Learn accurate technique, work patiently, and take care of yourself. One day you will be among those who are picked to start dancing in ballet toe shoes.






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Perfect Pointe Ballet Dreams – Let Them Come True

Perfect Pointe Ballet Dreams – You Make Them Real

You dream about sewing pink satin ribbons on your new ballet toe shoes, and neatly tucking the heel into the shoes, and winding the ribbons smoothly around the shoes.

You tuck them into your ballet bag, and check that you’ve put in your Ouch Pouches or lambswool. Add your clean tights and ballet leotard and some new things you’ve bought.

Your Pinkie Ball – a soft rubber sports ball that you can roll under your feet after class. If your calf muscles are sore or tense, you can sit on the floor and roll the Pinkie Ball up and down under your calves. Press it a little into those sore spots, and feel the muscles relax.

While you’re there, put it under your hamstrings too. Move it from behind your knees up to the top of your thigh. Ease out that tense muscle feeling. Now you can start your pointe class with your improved muscle tone.

You have a few minutes to sit while you ride to your ballet studio, so you can do a foot exercise that will help you get stronger in pointe shoes.

Playing the Piano with your toes:

  • you pick your toes up, one by one, starting with the big toe
  • you keep the rest of your foot level
  • then you put the toes down one by one, like you are placing them on piano keys
  • you can repeat this ten times, or twenty times if you are used to it

Another foot exercise you can do while you are sitting –

Seated Rises:

  • with the foot placed level on the floor, press up as though you are rising onto pointe
  • keep the toes long, do not let them curl
  • press the toes down, feeling the foot muscles controlling the movement
  • don’t just let them drop
  • and place the foot carefully, back to a flat position

Repeat ten times each foot.

This controlled movement is exactly what you’ll be doing in your ballet toe shoes. Pressing up, and controlling down. While holding your core muscles strong, your turnout strong, yet remaining relaxed in your shoulders and neck.

If you haven’t bought pointe shoes yet, you can do these foot exercises everyday. You will find that these exercises will help you develop strength in all your demi pointe rises and releves, and your jumps as well.

The strength in the pointe action of the big toe and the muscles in the forefoot or metatarsal area of the foot gives your releves and jumps that extra quality and sparkle.

This type of pre-pointe exercises are good for boys in ballet too, for that same reason. Dream of getting the perfect pointe ballet foot muscles, then practice – and soon you’ll have them!




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Flexibilty Exercises For Dancers – Stretch The Psoas Muscle

Flexibility Exercises For Dancers – Get A Higher Leg Extension To The Back

The iliopsoas, or psoas muscle, can be lengthened, which will allow you to keep your back upright when you perform a high leg extension to the back, or derriere, in ballet terms. This is also your arabesque position, with variations of the arm and head positions.

The psoas muscle is a postural support muscle. Its strength keeps you upright, working with the core muscles to stabilize your low back and pelvis area. The psoas runs from the top of your quadricpes, or quad, at the front of your thigh, and goes over the hip joint, to the spine. Inserted at the anterior, or front of the spine, this muscle controls the bending of the body at the hip joint. (Say you sneeze and one of your knees lifts up when your middle section contracts. You bend at the hip joint. The psoas is a hip flexor muscle).

If sufficiently flexible, the psoas allows an easy, fluid,  bend at the waist, when you perform your high leg extension to the back. Here is one of the easiest flexibility stretches you can do, to lengthen the iliopsoas.

You do not use ballet turnout to do this; start with your legs parallel, in a demi plie, or small knee bend, heels on the floor.

  • extend one leg directly behind its hip joint.
  • press the back foot level on the floor.
  • use a ballet barre or the back of a chair to stay balanced.
  • slowly stretch the back leg, and keep your pelvis as upright as you can, although it may tip back a bit.
  • this light pressure to stay upright creates the stretch over the front of the back leg hip.
  • pull up the core muscles, and you will feel even more of a stretch.
  • rotate your spine toward your front leg, gently, for a stretch in a slightly different part of the hip joint.
  • rotate in the other direction, to the back leg, and the stretch will be emphasized differently, again.

Hold each position for thirty to sixty seconds, and do not bounce or pulse. Repeat the stretch at least three times, with each leg.

Always stop and ease up the position if anything hurts.

It is always best to stretch at the end of a class, when you are warmed up thoroughly. This way you get the most out of your ballet stretches.



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Shopping For Cheap Pointe Shoes – Ballet Toe Shoes – Amazon Or Ebay?

Can I Buy Cheap Pointe Shoes?

Amazon.com sells many brands of ballet toe shoes. Ebay also sells new pointe shoes, mostly listed without the box (not the pointe shoe box, but the BOX box). If you are completely certain about your foot type, your brand and your size, and you are no longer growing, it is possible to order pointe shoes, or ballet slippers,  on line.

I do not see much when I look on ebay.com. There are ballet toe shoes for sale that may be collectors’ items, and many worn pointe shoes. But you, a ballet dancer, are not searching for those things. You will have plenty of your own ballet dance career souvenirs when you stop dancing!

Always use Paypal if you can, because if you do not get the ballet pointe shoes, or if they arrive worn or damaged, you can get a refund.

Ballet toe shoe jewelry comes up a lot on amazon.com and ebay.com. If you like to  collect that, there seems to be some listed.

If you are looking to get into a professional ballet career however, your thoughts are on the practical stuff. Again, if you have stopped growing, and are certain about the type of pointe shoe you need, it is probably alright to order from amazon.com or ebay.com. Or other ballet wear or discount pointe shoe sites.

If you are a among the ballet parents reading this, my news probably isn’t so good. You cannot buy pointe shoes to grow into. You are going to make a substantial financial investment in ballet toe shoes. You will go many, many times, to the ballet store, for fitting pointe shoes. You will buy Ouch Pouches, Gel Pads, Lambswool – and prepare foot baths with Epsom Salts or Magnesium Chloride for your dancing daughter. And sons, even if they do not wear ballet toe shoes.

(I am going to write a separate post for dancers who have stopped growing and know specifically what pointe shoes they might buy at a discount, from professional ballet companies).

It is so important to get exactly the right fit in ballet toe shoes, that the whole idea of a sale price, or two-for-one, or whatever special a merchant can come up with, simply rarely applies. I realize this is hard for ballet parents.

Yet there are other ways that a dancer or ballet parents can save money on buying ballet toe shoes. Is your child truly ready? Does your child’s  teacher know how to correctly assess the muscles strength of the ballet foot muscles and your child’s classical technique? Many teachers do, even if they have not learned specific physiotherapy type exercises to do that special testing. Of course, you want to know for sure.

Even if your child’s teacher does not know this special area of assessing a dancer for dancing in ballet toe shoes, there is a way your child could assess herself, and know for certain when she is ready to go and buy her first pointe shoes. Get your dancing daughter The Perfect Pointe Book manual.


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The Best Ballet Shoes – And Ballet Toe Shoes

The Best Ballet Shoes

How do you buy the best ballet shoes – in your case, the best ballet toe shoes? Usually you need the typical pink satin pointe shoes, but what if you need red ballet pointe shoes or black satin ballet toe shoes? I promise to talk about those in another article, for now let’s focus on the usual.

First, know your foot type. Click the link there if you need more information about foot types.

You will be able to get the best ballet shoes, for you. Depending on where you are located, this may be easy, or may take a trip or two to a larger city with a ballet store. Whatever you have nearest, check your foot type, and then visit your local dance wear store for ballet toe shoes. Please; draw an outline of your foot, standing with your weight on that foot, on a piece of paper. And then the other foot.

There are two reasons for this. First, you can take those two pieces of paper with you when you go for fitting pointe shoes, for the first time. A professional pointe shoe fitter will look at the the two shapes of your feet (which may be different), and thank you for the lead. A less experienced ballet toe shoe fitter may think “Cool! Whew! This gives me an idea of where to start with this ballet dancer”!

Secondly, if you are an advanced ballet student who has stopped growing, but who wants to try on some different pointe shoe brands or box shapes, you can hand a fitter the two pieces of paper – and then indicate you need to try a wider/narrower/more/less tapered/heavier/lighter pointe shoe.

For your first time fitting pointe shoes, plan to take a lot of time – maybe one or two hours. Please warn your devoted ballet parents! You may try on pointe shoe brands like:

  • Freeds
  • Capezio
  • Bloch
  • Russian
  • Principal
  • or even Gaynor Mindens

and of all of these,  a few sizes, widths, shank and vamp variations, before you find the best ballet shoes for you.

Be sure to wear your tights, or take them with you so you can pull them onto your foot or feet. If you think you may want to wear padding such as Ouch Pouches or lambs wool, ask if the store has any you can borrow for fitting pointe shoes. And don’t feel wimpy about this. Eventually you may dance in ballet toe shoes without any padding, but you do not have to try that right away.

I hope this has given you some tips about finding the best ballet shoes for you.

The Perfect Pointe Book For The Best Ballet Shoes



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