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The Perfect Toe Point

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Have you ever reviewed your training videos, excited that you nailed a new scary drop or complicated combo, only to discover, much to your chagrin that your feet look like dinosaur claws or floppy dead fish?

If so, you are not alone!

Feet have long been a crucial component to the aesthetics of dance ever since Marie Taglioni brazenly stepped ‘en pointe’ during a game-changing performance of La Sylphide in the seventeenth century. Since then dancers have aspired to elongate the line of the body as much as possible, and beautifully pointed feet with a high instep and pronounced arches is an extension of that line.


As Aerial Dancers we also desire gorgeous, bendy feet (even if we do want to flex them more often) but don’t have the hours  to spend in Ballet class sculpting the ideal Ballet Dancer toe point (we still need to get to Trapeze, Lyra and Rope class this week!). 

There is a part of our capacity for a beautiful toe point that is determined by genetics. Not every aerialist is going to be blessed with the ability to achieve super flexible feet. We can, however, significantly enhance the feet we are born with. 

By gently stretching the ligaments and strengthening the muscles over time, you can enhance the instep, arch, pointe, strength and flexibility of your feet and give yourself the very best toe point possible!

Here are our top tips for improving your toe pointe in the air:

1. Resist!

The floor or an exercise band specifically. The more your feet have to work through the demi-pointe and articulate all the way through the intrinsic muscles of the foot, the stronger and more supple they will become.

Check out this quick tutorial for two powerful resistance exercises you can do at home with and without an exercise band to improve your toe point:

2. Focus on your Feet

In class or training while it is important (of course) to concentrate on safety and the specific trick or skill you are working on, be sure to give at least some of your attention and energy to articulating through the feet. As you invert; think about your feet. As you set up for a drop; think about your feet. As you extend through the arms arm and legs preparing to release; think about your feet. As you drop and spin, think about your feet.

With time and dedication, like many aspects of good technique, beautifully pointed feet (or artfully flexed ones) will become second nature and you will not have to devote as much attention to your toes. 

3. Engage your Calves

If you want to make significant improvements to your toe point, you can’t just focus on the muscles in the feet and the toes themselves, you need to build strength and stability in all the muscles that are involved in the process of plantar flexion (ie. ‘pointing’).

The muscles that should be focused on are the muscles of the posterior calf which become engaged when we rise up on the balls of our feet:

This stretching and strengthening exercise for the feet and calves is a good way to work through these muscles in unison:    

Calf raises through plié

  • With your feet in parallel, standing at a table or chair for balance, bend your knees (demi plie) keeping the knees directly over the toes.
  • Whilst in the plie position, gradually lift your heels off the ground, rolling up through the intrinsic muscles of the foot and extending to your highest demi-pointe (as high as you can onto the balls of your feet).
  • Keeping the heels as lifted as possible, straighten the knees
  • Now slowly lower the heels returning to a relaxed position. Repeat several times, then perform with the feet in first position.

We hope that these tips help your feet ‘step’ into their full, fabulous potential!

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