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winged foot?


tomuchtallent
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I have been noticing more and more photos of dancers in the winged foot position,.I thought it was used in arabesques but its cropping up in all positions.When should it be used in pointes and soft shoes?

Is this something that you have to work on or is it a natural flexibility?

When standing for example with the foot behind to start a combination could it be used then?Also when doing a tendu to the front?

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A winged foot is something of a mixed blessing. It can be aesthetically pleasing but it should not be used when weight-bearing on pointe because it results in compression of the structures on the outside of the ankle joint, and abnormal strain on the structures on the inside of the ankle.

 

As for using a winged foot when non-weightbearing, for a student it really is down to the teacher. I was always taught when training, not to wing my foot because it was too stylistic for RAD exams, but in festival work we could do it in arabesque. Some students have naturally mobile ankles and can do it more easily but it also requires a bit of training/strengthening. It also depends on the shape of the students lower leg... if they have lower legs that bow slightly then they will already be winging slightly at the ankle to avoid the appearance of sickling, so to appear winged would take much more work!

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My dds teacher does want her to do it but she is only 9!She can do it very well in arabesque but is not quite strong enough to hold it for long.Do you think she is to young to be thinking about this along with all the other 101 things to remember?I think she is to young but her teacher told me she needs to start young or she might loose some of the flexibility,is this true?

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Perhaps in arabesque yes but I'd err on the side of caution, personally, in any other positions as yes, she is only 9, and there's a lot to think about! Most 9 year olds have to remember to point their feet all the time, let alone do anything else with them!

It does create a nice line in arabesque, for sure, and there's no harm in doing it there, but my personal opinion is that it is a little too stylistic in other positions - unless a teacher is using it to stop a child from sickling their foot... I sometimes will have a child wing their pointed foot at the back in what the RAD call 'classical pose' (like at the start of a dance or travelling sequence - back leg bent, thighs together, a bit like a curtsey position) but purely because so often the young dancer will naturally sickle here.

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What an interesting question!

 

I think this use of the foot (winging) should be considered as a choreographed shape rather than a technical necessity.

 

It caused me to pull out several of my books of various ballerinas. I started with Ivor Guest's wonderful book of the French Romantic Era - because the winged foot is certainly a stylistic nuance of that genre of the ballet repertoire. But of the many pictures of the famous Romantic ballerinas it is almost complelely absent.

 

In a huge marvelous book on Anna Pavlova - certainly one of the quintessential Romantic/lyrical ballerinas (with a reknowned highly arched foot) - once again it is almost not seen at all.

 

In the several large books I have with Margot Fonteyn - another fine exemplar of the Romantic style - it is seldom seen and only then mostly in attitude derriére or attitude devant rather than in arabesque. Where it is seen are in ballets of the Romatic Era such as: Les Sylphides, La Sylphide, Giselle Act II and La Bayadere.

 

Another fine ballerina, Natalya Makarova, a product, of course, of the Vaganova School in St.Petersburg (which should answer the question as to whether this is a Russian affect) - in all the pictures of her in performance and rehearsal and class - I only saw it in the both attitudes and not at all in arabesque.

 

As for the weight bearing issue.....

 

There should be no attempt to wing the foot while standing on the foot - that would break the center line of balance as it travels up the foot and into the leg and through the torso/spine - distorting the entire carriage of the body. And, causing stress to the foot/ankle jointure.

 

The winged foot in tendu - either derriére or devant - should never bear weight in any case. The extended foot in tendu touches the floor but it does not bear weight. The weight is entirely on the supporting leg.

 

This is true in the standing position in which the dancer's back foot is bent behind her. (Balanchine called this position B+ because of how it looks when notated). In that position - often held by the dancer either at the end of a performance while taking applause or waiting to begin to dance - the weight is again entirely on the front supporting leg. There is no weight on the bent back leg.

 

The winged foot is not something I'd teach a 9 yr old. I see it more of a "finishing" touch - and to be used judiciiously taking into account the style of the dance. In a young student it is more important to learn how to stand correctly on the supporting leg, How to do a tendu correctly. How to use the floor in the brush out without popping toes from the floor. How to correctly extend the foot fully through the back of the knee. How to pointe the toes, how to use the slippers, So much to learn! One can never learn enough about tendu.

 

I see the winging the foot is icing on the cake when the cake is baked and ready for decoration.

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My dd's teacher has just asked her to start doing this when standing in a preparatory position, at the start of a dance. It does look nicer and I'm happy for her to do it as the foot isn't bearing any weight.

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Ja Sm a winged foot is when a dancer angles their foot in the direction of the little toes. Some people call this a 'fish' or 'fished' foot although I don't seem to hear that as much these days!. If you look at the picture of Tamara Rojo that I hope is below, her back foot in arabesque is 'winged'

 

Tamara+Rojo+6.jpg

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My dd's teacher has just asked her to start doing this when standing in a preparatory position, at the start of a dance. It does look nicer and I'm happy for her to do it as the foot isn't bearing any weight.

 

I agree. I think that this means that your daughter's teacher is confident that she understands that the foot will not have any weight on it. And that being case, the teacher is moving your daughter into this phase of adding nuance to basic elements. That is a good thing!

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Thanks Anjuli,

I totally agree with you and find it strange for my dd to be doing it!So maybe for a performance it would be ok after mastering the choreography to the best of ability?

 

As I recall, Spannerandpony's daughter is a few years older (or am I wrong?) and so it makes sense that she is at a point where she would be adding this to her basic technique.

 

At nine yrs old your daughter, tomuchtalent, - I would think it more important to concentrate on the basic elements.

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This is not an expression I have heard of, what is a winged foot?

 

Ja Sim .....this winged foot as seen in the photo DrDance put up also occurs when the foot is also pointed and touching the floor (tendu) behind or in front - hence the question as to weight bearing. Though touching the floor, a tendu must never bear weight. If the dancer is not well enough along in her studies to understand and work correctly (understanding and doing are two different issues) then the danger is the dancer will put weight on that winged foot as it touches the ground and therefore add stress to the foot and ankle.

 

 

I am very sorry for this triple post -- editing to add these thoughts didn't work.

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As I recall, Spannerandpony's daughter is a few years older (or am I wrong?) and so it makes sense that she is at a point where she would be adding this to her basic technique.

 

At nine yrs old your daughter, tomuchtalent, - I would think it more important to concentrate on the basic elements.

 

Yes, she's 13 and a half, and her teacher has only been asking for a winged foot in preparatory (and a slight wing to the non supporting foot in arabesque) for the last few months. As you say Anjuli, it's just adding little polishing touches now she's a bit older. :-)

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With regards to weightbearing - agreed - a tendu or foot in preparatory position/B+/classical pose should not bear weight, and I also agree that it's more an 'icing on the cake' kind of concern, to be added once the fundamental technique is secure.

 

What I was referring to in my first post ("winged foot should not be used when weight-bearing on pointe) was just that - some professionals seem to be winging their feet when actually on pointe. *This* should be discouraged.

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With regards to weightbearing - agreed - a tendu or foot in preparatory position/B+/classical pose should not bear weight, and I also agree that it's more an 'icing on the cake' kind of concern, to be added once the fundamental technique is secure.

 

What I was referring to in my first post ("winged foot should not be used when weight-bearing on pointe) was just that - some professionals seem to be winging their feet when actually on pointe. *This* should be discouraged.

 

Absolutely, I agree. An example of it is in the picture above. However, I'm not entirely sure this use - or misuse - of the foot is purposely being done but rather a result of the emphasis on, the clamor for, and the favoring of, a very highly arched foot in the dancers of today.

 

 

It goes along with the other extremes: leg to ear extensions, oversplits, etc.

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I am finding it difficult to make either foot do that. I am RAD trained and my teacher now is ISTD and Cechetti and she wants us to do it.

 

Point your foot to the front in tendu - now turn the heel forward - outward - away from you as much as you are able while pressing the toes back toward you. Keeping the foot in that position lift it a few inches from the floor and bring it to the ankle of the supporting foot (sur le cou-de-pied) passé behind the supporting foot, and continue to point to the back (a few inches off the floor. The important thing is NOT to change the shape of the pointing winged foot - -now lift it into arabesque.

 

To get the feel of this - shape the foot while it is in the front where you can see it - then move it to the back and into arabesque without changing the shape of the foot.

 

It helps to have good turnout so the wing can be seen.

 

Hope this helps.

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My dd has been discouraged from doing this in her classes because it isn't "pure"!

 

I agree, it is not part of the basic ballet technique - it is an affectation of style. In an arabesque, for instance, the line of the lifted leg should take the observer's eye out to infinity. Winging the foot interrupts that line. However, it is sometimes used in Romantic Era ballets because it gives the impression of a lightness - an unearthliness - to the line of the dancer. As if she had just come to earth for a moment or two - like a bird with wings still spread ready to fly off at the first wisp or a breeze or hint of danger. A creature of the air rather than a creature of the earth.

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I think my dd's teacher encourages it as she sometimes looks as if she's sickling. She has reduced proprioception in her most hypermobile joints (ankles and elbows) so if the teacher asks her to "wing" the foot slightly it often ends up straight - if that makes sense.

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I think my dd's teacher encourages it as she sometimes looks as if she's sickling. She has reduced proprioception in her most hypermobile joints (ankles and elbows) so if the teacher asks her to "wing" the foot slightly it often ends up straight - if that makes sense.

 

I have a lower leg bow and my teacher used to make me wing my foot just to make it not sickle!

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