When I explained this concept to my Pointe students, they were blown away! Some of them are taking pointe for the first time this year, but others have been on pointe for three years now and have never been told how to correctly place themselves while dancing in pointe shoes.
No matter your type, every arch should allow for the toes to make contact with the floor at exactly a 90º angle. Again, using the illustrations from Ruth Brinkerhoff’s “Pointe 1: An Introduction to Pointe Work“, we can see exactly how that is accomplished.
The first drawing is of a student with high arches. Sometimes the tendency for this type of student is to push too far over the box of their shoe and put unnecessary weight on the toenails. Brinkerhoff’s solution: “High arches will need to make a slight dorsiflexion at the metatarsal-phalangeal joint (note the arrow) in order to get the weight exactly on the ends of the toes”* The dancer with high arches may need to be reminded that thought she is making a slight dorsiflexion, she is still “pointing” her foot and stretching her ankle, just like everyone else.
Average Arches and “Flat Feet”
The second and third drawings show that the ankles and feet are fully stretched and the toes are pointing directly down towards the floor. Pressure must not be placed on the knuckles of the toes or on the toenails. Even for those students that are “flat footed”, it is still possible, with some strengthening and extra conditioning at the barre, to bring weight over the tops of the toes en pointe.
This drawing shows the correct placement of the feet as they would appear in pointe shoes. Take note of what types of arches your students have so that you can give them personalized advice based on their musculoskeletal needs.
- Conditioning Principles to Improve Pointe Work
- Is My Student Ready for Pointe?
- Guidelines for Starting a Student On Pointe
- Recognizing the Student NOT Ready for Pointe
*Work Cited: “Pointe 1: An Introduction to Pointe Work” by Ruth H. Brinkerhoff, p.13, copyright The Ballet Source, 2016.