Health & Body

Ask Deb: How Can I Improve My Pointed Feet?


Q: How can I improve my pointed feet?

A: The flexibility of your feet depends on their structure and muscle balance. Start by sitting on the ground parallel to a mirror with your legs in front of you. Point your feet and look at the line across the top of the ankle. If the top of your foot isn't flat across the ankle joint, you may have some tightness in the anterior ankle muscles.

Try focusing on the anterior tibialis muscle, the big muscle on the outside of the shin bone that becomes defined when flexing your foot. When engaged, the function of this muscle is to flex, so if you're trying to point, that muscle needs to lengthen. My favorite way to release tightness there is by kneeling on a pinkie ball and gently massaging along the length of the muscle. Check your point after rolling on the ball. Do you have more length to the front of the ankle?

You should also strengthen the intrinsic muscles of the feet that draw your toes into a point. Can you point your feet while keeping the toes long and separated? If your arch cramps—congratulations! You've found the intrinsic muscles.

While you're working to improve your feet, keep in mind that it takes much more than pretty feet to make a dancer. Even if you don't have the most gorgeous feet in the world, don't ever stop.

Teachers Trending
Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy. Photo courtesy Dance With Me

Listening to Maks and Val Chmerkovskiy riff together makes it crystal-clear why each has mastered the art of partnering in the ballroom—they've long been doing this dance in real life as brothers and business partners.

Along with their "Dancing with the Stars" pedigree (and a combined three mirror-ball trophies between them), Maks and Val (and their father, Sasha) also run Dance With Me, a dance company hosting six ProAm Dancesport competitions annually and running 14 brick-and-mortar studio locations across the U.S.

Last year, the pair launched an online component, Dance & Co. The online video platform offers beginner through advanced instruction in not only ballroom but an array of other styles, as well as dance fitness classes from HIIT to yoga to strength training. "DWTS" fans will recognize such familiar faces as Peta Murgatroyd, Jenna Johnson, Sharna Burgess and Emma Slater, along with Maks and Val themselves.

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Teaching Tips
@jayplayimagery, courtesy Kerollis

In the spring of 2012, Barry Kerollis was abruptly forced into treating his career as a small business. Having just moved cross-country to join BalletX, he got injured and was soon let go.

"I'd only ever danced with big companies before," the now-freelance dance-teacher-choreographer-podcaster recalls. "That desperation factor drove me to approach freelancing with a business model and a business plan."

As Kerollis acknowledges, getting the business of you off the ground ("you" as a freelance dance educator, that is) can be filled with unexpected challenges—even for the most seasoned of gigging dancers. But becoming your own CEO can make your work–life balance more sustainable, help you make more money, keep you organized, and get potential employers to offer you more respect and improved working conditions. Here's how to get smart now about branding, finances and other crucial ways to tell the dance world that you mean business.

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Teachers Trending
Courtesy Oleson

American dance educator Shannon Oleson was teaching recreational ballet and street-dance classes in London when the pandemic hit. As she watched many of her fellow U.S. friends pack up and return home from their international adventures, she made the difficult choice to stick with her students (as well as her own training—she was midway through her MFA at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance).

Despite shutdowns and shelter-in-place orders, she was able to maintain a teaching schedule that kept her working with her dancers through Zoom, as well as lead some private, in-home acro classes following government guidelines. But keeping rec students interested in the face of pandemic fatigue hasn't been easy.

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