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Perfect ballet feet


Happymum
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My DD loves ballet and has recently been offered a JA places in Briatol. After a week of pure joy I'm starting to think more realistic. I know that my DD doesn't have good "ballet feet". I read few ballet feet description written by physio/surgeon/doctors who take part in medical exam at ballet schools and I heard other people stories etc. So I have some idea how ballet feet should look like and just wonder how important it is? Even if a child is a fantastic dancer, will s/he be always not accepted because of the feet? My DD has "curly" toes (like me and my mum, my

grandmother) and has very long and narrow feet. She also has a visible (overgrown ?) Intermediate cuneiform bone - little thing slightly sticking out at the middle of the top of her foot. She of course he's been seen by specialist and it's not a problem normally but when it comes to ballet it might mean everything!

I told my DD about it and told her that this might be the reason if she's not successful this year and I know that at the audition children took shoes and socks off so I was supriced and so happy when the letter came! But now I would like to know, before we do all what possible for her to be able to do JA and lots of classes and workshops etc - does she stand a chance when she is older?

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All I can advise is that you wait and see what happens as your dd gets older, because feet can change, particularly when girls start pointework.

 

Many people think that a "banana foot" - i.e. an extremely high arch/instep - is the perfect foot for ballet. However, this type of foot can be weaker than a straighter foot, and can be more prone to injury.

 

Straight feet - as long as they are able to get over onto the platform of the pointe shoe - can still be fine for classical ballet.

 

At the end of the day, you have to do the best with what you're given. There are of course exercises that can be prescribed to strengthen feet and/or increase flexibility, but they can't turn a straight foot into a banana foot - or vice versa.

 

The dance physio dd sees is very fond of telling her that she has "nice straight, strong, good workhorse feet for ballet " - just like Agnes Oakes' feet, apparently. :-)

 

As Taxi says, your dd's feet are obviously fine at the moment! I would take it a term - or a year - at a time and see what happens. If she progresses onto pointe then there are toe spacers etc which can help if her "curly" toes seem to be troublesome.

 

What does your dd's local teacher think?

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And her arches are just average apparently - not high not low. Feet are flexible, getting stronger by strengthening exercise - but nothing can be done to change the shape of the bones. And yes, we have plenty of time and we are happy to have the JA place - but just would love to hear more about perfect ballet feet :-)

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There are no perfect ballet feet. Ask any dancer. Some are more amenable to ballet than others, but then I have seen dancers who have overcome some quite glaring "problems."

 

How old is your daughter? How long has she been studying?

 

Has any teacher said anything about her feet?

 

You mentioned that at the audition shoes and socks were removed and she was accepted.

 

Frankly, I wouldn't worry unless and until someone mentions it to you.

 

Or - you could ask her teacher to take a closer look now and give you her/his opinion - and then get a second opinion.

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All I can advise is that you wait and see what happens as your dd gets older, because feet can change, particularly when girls start pointework.

 

Many people think that a "banana foot" - i.e. an extremely high arch/instep - is the perfect foot for ballet. However, this type of foot can be weaker than a straighter foot, and can be more prone to injury.

 

Straight feet - as long as they are able to get over onto the platform of the pointe shoe - can still be fine for classical ballet.

 

At the end of the day, you have to do the best with what you're given. There are of course exercises that can be prescribed to strengthen feet and/or increase flexibility, but they can't turn a straight foot into a banana foot - or vice versa.

 

The dance physio dd sees is very fond of telling her that she has "nice straight, strong, good workhorse feet for ballet " - just like Agnes Oakes' feet, apparently. :-)

 

As Taxi says, your dd's feet are obviously fine at the moment! I would take it a term - or a year - at a time and see what happens. If she progresses onto pointe then there are toe spacers etc which can help if her "curly" toes seem to be troublesome.

 

What does your dd's local teacher think?

 

I'm interested to know how toe spacers can help with curly toes? I thought they were used when the toes were too close together or at an angle, such as in bunions?

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Good question, my dd doesn't use them, but of the ones I've seen, I think they can be used to hold the toes apart (if the toes are "curling" towards each other), to even up the gaps between the toes.

 

Happymum, did you mean that sort of "curly", or curling under, i.e. clawing?

 

Of course as Happymum's dd is just starting as a JA, pointework won't become an issue for several years. And of course pointe shoes should be fitted in the shop by a good, experienced and qualified fitter. :-)

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Congratulations to your DD Happymum!!!

 

As a JA your DD will be given exercises for her metatarsals along with other exercises. If RBS were worried about her feet, they wouldn't have offered her a place, after all they have a big selection of children to choose from. Enjoy your journey!

 

NL

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My DD is 8 and started ballet 3 years ago - more seriously just a year ago. Her toes are curling under ( clawing) and I know that for pointe work straight toes are needed. Also big toe curling slightly towards second toe ( bunions). Any ideas how to improve it?

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IF it becomes a problem - which apparently RBS don't see it as at present - then you should take advice from your dd's teacher(s) and I would suggest asking teacher if she would recommend seeing a podiatrist.

 

There are certainly Dance Physios so I would not be surprised if there were also Podiatrists who specialise in Dance issues.

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Yes, she went to podiatrist and osteopath and even orthopaedic surgeon! What they generally said is that she is extremely flexible and needs to do strengthening exercises to keep her joint safe and to make her feet stronger. She also wears insoles. And I guess I just wanted to hear a story from one of balletcoers about a girl with similar problems who has been accepted at vocational school anyway....

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Happymum, without seeing your dd's feet and knowing the precise anatomical situation, I don't think anyone can really tell you anything concrete! There will be people with all sorts of feet that are accepted and there may be some the same as your daughter's - and there may not!! The school physios will probably know what is deemed "perfect" and how much deviation from this is deemed suitable! It would seem thatfor now they are thought to be workable!!

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Once your dd starts the associates your dd will have access to the Royal Ballet physio who will be able to give her expert opinion on your dds feet. I would advise you to stop worrying and just enjoy your dd being a JA for now. The ballet journey goes so fast and often us parents dont take enough time to just stop and enjoy what is happening at that moment. I hope you and your daughter enjoy every moment of your time with the Royal as it is a very special time indeed.

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Does your dd love to dance? Is she thrilled at the prospect of doing JA's? This should be the motivation for doing JA's - not what it might or might not leed to in terms of vocational school. Live for the moment (with a weather eye out for the future!)

 

As non-experts I don't think any of us can say this won't be a hinderance in the future, but all dancers have an 'achilles heel' of some sort that they have to work with, and I do know people with feet which some may have thought were competely unsuitable who have got into vocational school and done very well.

 

I hope your dd has a wonderful time at JA's. I'm sure she will.

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Congratulations Happymum! Please don't worry because the Royal will have had a good look at her feet and certainly would not have taken her if there was a potential long term problem.

 

Many of the JA exercises are specifically for the feet and toes which the students are meant to do daily. You could make sure that you understand exactly what how these shoud be done but rest assured the teacher will be keeping a close eye on how she develops.And as has been mentioned you will have access to the RBS physio who may well have already seen feet like your DD and advise accordingly.

 

Enjoy the journey, however long it lasts! Hope you like rollercoasters......

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Happymum, re toes curling under, and the 'good toes naughty toes' exercise they do when they're tiny.

 

When my dd first started at 3 she did exactly as the teacher said and pointed her toes - she didn't point her feet! She didn't really understand what the teacher was explaining and at home she would argue with me until her face was blue... She did this for ages and it has take years for her to kick the habit, straighten her toes properly and use her foot in the right way.

 

One of the exercises she did in bare feet was to stand with her feet in parallel and slide one foot backwards, lifting the heel as she went, ending up on demi-pointe. It helped to uncurl the toes. We also had to be careful when buying ballet shoes, as it's very easy to buy them a bit too small if the toes are clenched.

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Thank you Taxi4ballet - my DD's toes are curling under not because she lernt to do it - she was just born like that. I have same toes and my mum and others as well.

To all of you - thank you for your ideas and thoughts. I just worry to much sometimes.

It's great to know that JA children have possibility to see RBS physio. I'll try to book an appointment in September. And of course I'll ask JA teacher for her opinion and for some

extra exercises for my DD.

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My DS has 'dropped arches' when about aged 9-10. He was seen by the Orthotic department at our local hospital and wore insoles from year 6 to year 11 in his school shoes. We made sure that his other shoes worn at home has decent support for the arch eg Geox and Merryll shoes. His arches are fine now and he's now at Central. :)

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