Teaching Tips

2 Foot-Centric Warm-Ups for the Whole Body


From Miami City Ballet doctor of physical therapy Elizabeth Maples:

Plank tendus emphasize movement through the feet while energizing the entire core and upper body and increasing your heart rate.

  • In a forearm plank position, engage inner thighs and sit bones. Slowly lift heels for a slow relevé and lower them for a calf stretch. This will result in the body sliding back and forth slowly.
  • Add a tendu with alternating feet. From the calf-stretch plank position, with heels lowered as much as possible, let one foot continue to sweep along the floor like a cat pawing the surface until you point the toe off the floor, keeping hips and thighs level. Lift the standing foot into a relevé to complete the motion. Return to a calf-stretch position, lower the lifted toes and repeat with the other foot.

Eccentric relevé exercises are great for teachers who suffer from Achilles tendinitis because they work the stabilizing muscles of the lower legs and work the tendon from a contracted to an extended position, with control. Here are two.

  • In parallel, move through a forced arch plié to straighten legs to demi-pointe. Then coupé one foot to the opposite leg and lower the heel slowly without a plié. If possible, do this on a stair or yoga block so you can extend the heel below flat on the floor. You can repeat that turned out.
  • Practice stepping onto demi-pointe in a piqué with or without the barre for support, extending the working leg in a low arabesque and then rolling down to flat on the standing leg. Start parallel en croix, then repeat, turned out.
Click here for more ways to treat your feet.
Teacher Voices
Getty Images

I often teach ballet over Zoom in the evenings, shortly after sunset. Without the natural light coming from my living room window, I drag a table lamp next to my portable barre so that the computer's camera can see me clearly enough. I prop the laptop on a chair taken from the kitchen and then spend the next few hours running back and forth between the computer screen of Zoom tiles and my makeshift dance floor.

Much of this setup is the result of my attempts to recreate the most important aspects of an in-person dance studio: I have a barre, a floor and as much space as I can reasonably give myself within a small apartment. I do not, however, have a mirror, and neither do most of my students.

Keep reading... Show less
Allie Burke, courtesy Lo Cascio

If you'd hear it on the radio, you won't hear it in Anthony Lo Cascio's tap classes.

"If I play a song that my kids know, I'm kind of disappointed in myself," he says. "I either want to be on the cutting edge or playing the classics."

He finds that most of today's trendy tracks lack the depth needed for tap, and that there's a disconnect between kids and popular music. "They have trouble finding the beat compared to older genres," he says.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending
Courtesy Lovely Leaps

After the birth of her daughter in 2018, engineer Lisa McCabe had reservations about returning to the workforce full-time. And while she wanted to stay home with the new baby, she wasn't ready to stop contributing financially to her family (after all, she'd had a successful career designing cables for government drones). So, when she got a call that September from an area preschool to lead its dance program, she saw an opportunity.

The invitation to teach wasn't completely out of the blue. McCabe had grown up dancing in Southern California and had a great reputation from serving as her church's dance teacher and team coach the previous three years (stopping only to take a break as a new mother). She agreed to teach ballet and jazz at the preschool on Fridays and from there created an age-appropriate class based on her own training in the Cecchetti and RAD methods. It was a success: In three months, class enrollment went from six to 24 students, and just one year later, McCabe's blossoming Lovely Leaps brand had contracts with eight preschools and three additional teachers.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.