Svetlana Zakharova Photo Credits: Pascal Perich for The New York Times
We all want feet like Svetlana Zakharova, but it is almost freeing to know that for some, it just isn't physically possible. So, for those of us who aren't born with fantastic, archy feet, what can we do to get the most out of what we do have?
In this article from Dance Magazine, writer Kristen Lewis offers exercises and stretches that can improve your arch, no matter your bone structure. Check it out some of the highlights here, or click on the link for the full article.
"If you have less than perfect feet, focus on how you use them rather than obsess that your arch isn't high enough," says Dana Hanson, a teacher at Pacific Northwest Ballet School. Here are some do's and don'ts to help you maximize your potential.
* Do stretch your feet after barre in ballet slippers.
* Do wear your pointe shoes longer. And wear softer shoes to strengthen your legs and feet.
* Do work the arches of your feet with a doming exercise.
* Do use a Theraband.
* Do work at three-quarters. Try with both legs, then one leg.
* Don't allow anyone to stretch your feet--unless you've both been properly coached or are being supervised by a qualified teacher. Overstretching will strain the tops of your feet and do nothing to improve your pointes.
* Don't put your feet under the couch or piano. Extreme stretching can lead to injury.
* Don't take your pointe shoes off when it's time for allegro. Concentrating on fully pointing your feet as you jump off of the floor, and rolling through demi-pointe as you land. You can also do it in shankless pointe shoes.
* Don't get tunnel vision. It's OK to focus on your feet, but they're only part of the picture. Hip and core strength are directly related to foot alignment and balance.
* Don't wear pointe shoes before your teacher says you're ready.