Dance students can start working on their foot control from a very young age. Start with Toe Wiggles and Toe Waves, and progress to the more formal Toe Swapping exercise as they get more proficient. At this age, the student should have a good concept of pointing and flexing the ankles, keeping them nicely aligned. Learning how to correctly use each of the muscle groups in the foot will also help maximise their range of motion.
Ages 6 – 10
Children of this age should be able to perform the Toe Swapping exercise well. They should then be introduced to Doming the forefoot to engage the intrinsic muscles of the foot (Lumbricals), and integrate this into parallel tendus. The focus should then move to the inclusion of this movement in every Tendu that they do in class. It is essential to get this pattern started very early in order to make it a habit, as it helps prevent many foot and ankle injuries in older dancers. At this age special focus should be made on achieving optimal range through all parts of the foot. This will endure optimal Plié & pointe range later on.
Ages 11 & Over
There should be a constant focus and revisiting of the articulation of the forefoot in many different ways to help further develop the control of the front of the foot. Exercises such as Point Through Demi Point with the Ball, and Parallel Tendus can help add resistance and improve endurance of the muscles in the front of the foot.
Tendu en Croix
Integrating the articulation of the forefoot into the tendu may take persistence, but the rewards are enormous. Focus on maintaining stability of the standing leg, and working the foot through a high 3/4 pointe position before pointing the toes in each position. Working in toe thongs can help the student achieve good articulation without sticking to the floor! Begin in parallel and at the barre, and progress to work in turnout in the centre.