Understanding when a young dancer is ready to start to learn ballet pointe can be quite complex. Do you have the flexibility, strength and turnout needed to master the techniques. Here you will learn about turnout and develop some good stretching exercises.
Perfect turnout means you can stand with your heels touching and your toes pointing in exact opposite directions-also known as First Position. Even if you didn't practice holding yourself in First Position when you began ballet instruction, start doing it now, because it gives you the flexibility and muscle control that you need for many of ballet's most important positions, leaps, and turns.
Remember, nobody can do it flawlessly from the start, and you can hurt yourself trying. It takes a lot of practice to gain the necessary flexibility in your hip flexor muscles. The shape of your hip bones, including the way the top of your leg-the femoral neck-fits into your hip socket, will result in the success you achieve. There is also a tough ligament where these two bones connect called the iliofemoral ligament. You have one of these ligaments on each side of your body, and your teacher can show you exercises that will improve their elasticity.
Flexibility and strength will ensure you do your exercises correctly-and you dance ballet point style-so practice this first. With your weight evenly distributed between both feet, make sure you are standing tall and straight. Your toes should be flat on the floor. Keep your knees straight-and centered directly over your ankles-and turn your entire legs outward from the hips. This puts your feet in First Position.
The proper position for your upper body is with your shoulders down, but not forward, and your chest lifted. Keep your chin up by imagining that your head is suspended from the ceiling by a string. Fold your hands in front of you; hold this position for ten and then repeat.
Even if you're sitting on the floor for exercises, you should strive to hold your torso upright. And remember, as you do the stretches and exercises that will strengthen your legs, to keep your big toe in line with your heel whenever you point your foot.
Stand with good posture putting your right leg forward to complete a calf stretch for beginners. Your left foot is slightly behind you with your foot flat on the floor. Lower your right knee, not forgetting to lean into the stretch and in doing so keep your spine upright. Hold this position for a count of ten, and then switch legs.
Next, work on your hamstrings-the muscles that run down the back of your thighs. Kneel on your right knee, and point your left leg in front of you. Brace yourself with your right hand on the floor and your left hand alongside your left ankle. Point the toes on your right foot behind you as you bend forward. Count to ten, then switch legs.
To gain the strength and flexibility in your hips that's necessary for ballet pointe dance, lie on your back and point your legs straight up in the air. Then you can practice ever-widening scissors movements so that your legs gradually open to your sides. The key word here is gradually, so that you don't hurt yourself!
After practising for months you will eventually be able to stretch your legs so far to each side that they touch the floor with ease. Consult your teacher frequently, and search for websites geared to help you keep in touch with your goals and progress.