Teaching Tips

Ask Deb: Could Foot Cramping, Soreness and Achiness in the Heel and Arch Signal Plantar Fasciitis?

Getty Images

Q: I have adult ballet students who are asking me about foot cramping, soreness and achiness when dancing, especially in the heel and arch area. Could it be plantar fasciitis?


A: Feeling soreness and pain in the heel and arch area can be a sign of plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that runs from your heel to your toes. The typical symptoms of plantar fasciitis are pain in the heel area, especially first thing in the morning or after sitting for a long time, and it worsens after being on your feet for a long time. Women ages 40 to 60 with either flat/pronated feet or high arches are at the greatest risk. That said, I've seen plenty of under-40 dancers be diagnosed with fasciitis because they don't work their turnout correctly. It's not unusual to have a secondary diagnosis of heel spurs, which are created through excessive fascial pull on the heel bone.

So what to do? First spend some time releasing tension from the foot and calf by rolling out on a pinkie ball and/or using massage to loosen up the muscles. Next, begin to strengthen the intrinsic foot muscles by doing exercises like playing the piano with your toes or pointing your foot while lengthening and separating the toes. It's also essential to learn how to balance correctly on one foot by keeping the weight even between the pads of the big toe, little toe and heel. Lastly, make sure turnout is happening at the hip joint rather than turning out at the feet.

Teachers Trending
Annika Abel Photography, courtesy Griffith

When the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May catalyzed nationwide protests against systemic racism, the tap community resumed longstanding conversations about teaching a Black art form in the era of Black Lives Matter. As these dialogues unfolded on social media, veteran Dorrance Dance member Karida Griffith commented infrequently, finding it difficult to participate in a meaningful way.

"I had a hard time watching people have these conversations without historical context and knowledge," says Griffith, who now resides in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, after many years in New York City. "It was clear that there was so much information missing."

For example, she observed people discussing tap while demonstrating ignorance about Black culture. Or, posts that tried to impose upon tap the history or aesthetics of European dance forms.

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners
Courtesy Tonawanda Dance Arts

If you're considering starting a summer program this year, you're likely not alone. Summer camp and class options are a tried-and-true method for paying your overhead costs past June—and, done well, could be a vehicle for making up for lost 2020 profits.

Plus, they might take on extra appeal for your studio families this year. Those struggling financially due to the pandemic will be in search of an affordable local programming option rather than an expensive, out-of-town intensive. And with summer travel still likely in question this spring as July and August plans are being made, your studio's local summer training option remains a safe bet.

The keys to profitable summer programming? Figuring out what type of structure will appeal most to your studio clientele, keeping start-up costs low—and, ideally, converting new summer students into new year-round students.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer Diary
Claire, McAdams, courtesy Houston Ballet

Former Houston Ballet dancer Chun Wai Chan has always been destined for New York City Ballet.

While competing at Prix de Lausanne in 2010, he was offered summer program scholarships at both the School of American Ballet and Houston Ballet. However, because two of the competition's winners that year were Houston Ballet's Aaron Sharratt and Liao Xiang, dancers Chan idolized, he turned down SAB. He joined Houston Ballet II in 2010, the main company's corps de ballet in 2012, and was promoted to principal in 2017. Oozing confidence and technical prowess, Chan was a Houston favorite, and even landed himself a spot on Dance Magazine's "25 to Watch."

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.