Training in split sole shoes? not a good idea….

I’ve made a decision this week not to allow students to train in split sole shoes. Although they appear to be easy to work in & create some lovely lines with the feet, there is a fundamental lack of strength developing.

They give the foot hardly any support and the muscles in the foot are not being prepared or maintained for any future Pointe Work. I’ve always avoided suggesting students purchase expensive soft pointe shoes in preparation for Pointe Work but I’m now thinking this might be a mistake. It’s so tricky to balance the training needs of the student and the expense to their parents.

A firm shoe demands much more work from the foot. I bang on about the curve of the ankle constantly to my younger students, and the importance of keeping the toes straight & strong inside the shoes rather than clawed. If they over point their feet, they end up overworking the flexor muscles and tension creeps into the calf muscles. Compression around the Achilles tendon results in that ‘sinking’ , sitting in the pointe shoe which is never a good look!

Michael Berkin came to my school on sunday to do some workshops and he was telling the students that the toes perform the very last push off with their jumps. They are the first muscles to cushion a landing too. Strong feet = strong technique. Balance occurs when the weight is distributed correctly through the feet. Lumbrical muscles can’t function when the toes are curled, if they can’t hold the floor then the weight is thrown backwards.

Swapping from split soles to pointe shoes during a class demands too much change in balance and the way the foot must work. Pointe Shoes feel terrible after split soles – they are at total ends of the spectrum. The best solution is to take class in soft or broken down pointe shoes – that’s how I trained so why am I putting the parents finances before the needs of the dance student?! Not any more.

Floor Barre

I’m currently in the process of planning my first Floor Barre class for my Grade 2’s and it’s proving much more difficult than I imagined. I’m fascinated by the history of floor barre and totally convinced of the benefits to adding it in to the children’s training. It’s a really safe way to gain their awareness of complicated areas such as turnout and a very gentle & safe way to stretch delicate muscles that we use for ballet.