Since getting my first pair of pointe shoes, I've noticed that my left ankle is much stronger than my right ankle, and my right knee is slightly bent when I'm on full pointe. Do you have any advice for how I can fix these problems?
When someone says they have a habit of bending one knee when on relevé, I always suspect a leg-length difference. I would encourage you to have this checked out by a sports physician or physical therapist. The typical pattern is to stand with more weight on the shorter leg side (hence the 'stronger' side). If you do have a significant leg-length difference (more than one half- inch), it may be useful to put a small heel pad in your soft slippers in order to work evenly between the two legs at the barre. Unfortunately, there is no way to even out a leg-length difference when on pointe.
Try balancing on one foot (in your pointe shoes) for up to three minutes. This is a great way to begin strengthening the muscles of the ankle. Then, you can progress to single leg relevés or walking slowly on demi-pointe. These exercises strengthen the muscles around the ankle and foot and are wonderful for improving balance.
To your success,
Director, The Body Series
Got a question for Deb? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, and she may answer it in an upcoming web exclusive.
To work with Deb Vogel in person, check out her summer workshop, A Dance Teacher's Retreat to Tuscany!