Our guest columnist is Annette T. Thomas, a dance teacher and choreographer, who has trained at Carnegie Hall, the San Juan Ballet Company, and the Connecticut Regional Ballet Company under world class instructors. With 30 years of dance and figure skating experience behind her, Annette is certified in Russian Method Classical Ballet, and is a member of the Professional Skaters Association, U.S. Figure Skating, the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science, and the Wisconsin Dance Council. Annette began working with figure skaters in 1998 and has conducted numerous off and on-ice workshops in the areas of conditioning and artistry. Below is an excerpt from her book Fundamentals of Alignment and Classical Movement for Figure Skaters, which has received international acclaim from ice and roller skaters and their coaches.
Pointing your toes
by Annette T. Thomas
In ballet, the command to "point your toes" is really inaccurate. The accurate command is to "point the foot" or extend the ankle joint straight down (plantar flexion) and then further extend the toes (not "crunch") in order to feel that you are stretching and lengthening the entire foot.
Crunched toes in a boot can cause foot and lower leg cramps and greatly increase the risk of injury. Crunched toes will also make it very difficult to straighten your knee as the calf muscle will be contracted. It is difficult enough to feel a pointed foot inside a skating boot, so I tell the skaters to push the ball of the foot and toes down into the floor of the skate until the heel begins to rise off the floor of the skate.
In the illustration below, you can see that when the toes are "crunched" (right illustration), the calf muscle shortens pulling the femur towards it. Extending and pointing the foot correctly (left illustration) allows the knee to straighten with ease.
(Mary Gainer illustration copyright 2006. Used with permission.)
Annette currently teaches workshops in Russian Method Classical ballet, Folk and Character Dance, and works with skaters at the Wisconsin Figure Skating Club and the Kettle Moraine Figure Skating Club. For additional information on feet, posture, movement, and pretty much everything else that figure skaters should concentrate on, please check out Annette's website Ballet for Figure Skaters.
Article and content are copyright 2008 by Annette Thomas. Material may not be copied or distributed without the consent of Annette Thomas.