Keeping Pointe Fit During Summer
- August 5, 2016
For those of you who won’t be dancing as much or at all over the summer but want to come back this autumn feeling just as strong as you are now, these tips from some seasoned ballerinas are for you! Dancing en pointe, specifically, requires very strong ankles, legs and feet, so it’s important to tend to these areas over the summer or any extended break. This will help prevent you from injury and help ensure you won’t take any steps backward as next year’s full schedule of dance classes goes into swing.
Do you find that dancing en pointe requires a different type of strength than dancing on flat?
Adrienne Canterna, Co-Artistic Director and Dancer for Rasta Thomasâ€™ Bad Boys of Dance and Capezio Athlete
â€œAbsolutely! Some work is more tiring en pointe and some more so on demi-pointe. To be ready for anything, I always make sure I do physical therapy strengthening exercises with an Exercise Band every morning and night. Also, taking barre en pointe helps keep me strong as well.â€
Kathryn Morgan, soloist with New York City Ballet
â€œDancing en pointe requires an entirely different skill set. You need much stronger ankles in order to dance en pointe properly. You also need to train your feet to roll through your shoes. Simply flopping up and down won’t do it and can lead to injury. Also, simply pointing your feet in general is much harder in pointe shoes because of the extra weight.â€
What advice do you have for dancers who want to keep “pointe fit” during a summer break?
â€œOver the summer when you are not taking classes, it is a good idea to at least put on your pointe shoes and do a few exercises just a little bit every day, even if it is only 10 to 15 minutes. This will keep your muscles strong and prevent you from having to get back in shape later. It doesn’t have to be an all-day thing! Just do some basic exercises.”
â€œStay active. Find a space to give yourself a good ballet barre, or go to the gym for a good workout and stretch.â€
What are some good exercises or workout routines that dancers can do to keep strong over a break?
â€œYoga, Pilates, SoulCycle, kickboxing – anything to keep you moving and sweating. With the Exercise Band, do eversion and inversion exercises. Also, do things like write the entire alphabet with each foot a few times a day and mimic a windshield wiper in reps of 20, two to three times a day. Also, make sure to go over any and all corrections given to you during the year so in the fall you don’t feel like you’re starting all over.â€
â€œHere is a video I created of my favourite exercises for feet and pointe strengthening:
Feet & Pointe Work Strengthening Exercises
How should dancers return from their break? Ease into their dance schedule or jump right in?
â€œEase in slowly. The recipe for a surefire injury is jumping back in too fast. Once you have your dates to return to classes, during the week before, start doing a barre and maybe a bit of centre on your own. That way, once you are back in classes at your ballet school, you can jump right in.â€
What other “pointe fit” pointers can you offer?
â€œIt’s much better to live a lifestyle where you’re always in top physical form. It’s unhealthy for your mind, body and spirit to get in and out of shape. As a dancer, our body is our instrument; therefore, we must fine-tune that instrument daily.â€
â€œThere are many other ways you can keep ‘pointe fit’ during your break. Eating and sleeping well are first and foremost. You might also have to figure out your priorities. If you truly want to be a dancer and ballet classes are your everything, you might have to make some sacrifices. For example, you may need to stay away from summer activities that could cause injury, such as extreme sports. Not to say that you can’t have an incredible summer, but just think about what getting injured could do to your career. So just be mindful! But I also advise balance. Don’t make your entire summer all ballet all the time. Even if it is your passion, you need to be experiencing other things. That will only enrich your dancing and make you love it even more!â€