Coveting Better Feet?

Joanne Whitehill, Artistic Director of Burklyn Ballet Theatre, shares some excellent advice for dancers to improve their feet.


All dancers want great looking feet.  While bone structure partially dictates the shape of your feet, there are things you can do to maximize the feet you have.  There is no need for expensive foot stretchers, but you will need determination to improve your feet.    

  • Wear full-sole leather shoes for class.  Then when you perform wear canvas or split sole.  Your feet will look amazing from having worked them in the full-soled shoes.
  • Think of stretching your ankle where you ribbons cross.  Visualize your ribbons popping every time you point.  Train your brain to think of it like you do with your turn out and placement.
  • Take the shank out of an old pair of pointe shoes and wear them at the barre.  You can wear them in the center but they may throw off your balance and make it difficult to pirouette. Put them back on for petite and grande allegro.
  • While you are sitting at your desk in school or watching TV roll through your feet like you would when doing relevé -- extend the ankle joint, then the metatarsal, then the toes and reverse. Pretend you are using a theraband.
  • Place one foot in the highest demi point you can, plie on that leg, forcing the arch.  Place the other leg behind (on demi pointe) lining the heel of the first foot with the side of the other ankle.  Straighten the front leg while holding with the back leg so the first heel can't drop.  You should feel a stretch in the top of the ankle joint.
  • Do relevés and press your arch over while you brush your teeth.
  • Work on your demi pointe in pointe shoes.  The added resistance of the shank builds strength in the feet.
  • Wear good shoes outside of the studio.  Heels are a necessity sometimes but limit the amount of time you wear heels, flip-flops and shoes without any arch support (like Uggs and Toms.)
by Joanne Whitehill,  
Artistic Director of Burklyn Ballet Theatre