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Ballet Anatomy
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Ballet Anatomy

This page contains information about the body and how it is involved with ballet. It also has a lot of information about feet (shapes, exercises, types). Hope you enjoy:)

TURN OUT: Yes we are painfully aware, that we have different amount of this. But did you know that the anatomical factors that determine this are:

-The depth of the acetabulum.It's the socket of the hipjoint. The deeper the socket the less turn out you have. The shape of the socket is a factor also.
-The angle of the neck of the femur (the thigh bone)
-The lenght of the neck of the femur
-The elasticity of the iliofemoral ligament. This strong ligament is also called the y-shaped ligament
-The age at which the dancetraining began. The Y-shaped ligament is much more easily stretched at an early age.
-The strenght of the turn out muscles


Knock knees (genu valgum): You have this if you can't make your heels touch in a normal paralel postion when your knees are touching. If you have this you are much more likely to have rolling ankles(pronation). Be extra careful about keeping your weight at the centre of your foot. Also it will be more difficult to get your knees to be over your toes in pliť since your knees are not over your toes to begin with.

Bow legs:(Genu varum)You have this if in close paralel position your heels are touching but your knees can't because your feet curve outwards. With these kind of legs the weight of the body falls more to the outer side of the foot so remember to keep it at the center.The good news is that in some cases these kind of legs may appear to be more turned out then they actually are. if you have these kind of legs you will have to wing your feet even more then dancers with normal feet, because if you pointe then in line with your curving shin they will look sickled.Bow legs are however stronger then knock knees

Hyperextending knees: If you have it your knees seem to curve backwards, they are over straight. When sitting on the ground legs straight in front of you it will be easy for you to lift your heels off the ground even with pointed feet (this is not a foolproof test as the size of the calf muscles is a factor also). This is very much favored in ballet as it creates a very aesthetically pleasing line. However this type of knees are very prone to injury, such as the dislocation of the patella. A dancer needs her thigh muscles such as the quadriceps and the hamstrings strong and fit to controll this. This will make the weight of the body to fall more easily to the heels,remember to keep iton the baall of the feet. Think of elongating your knees to establish the straight knees then "sitting on your legs with the knees locked".

Hypoextension of the knees: It means you can't strech your knees no matter what. It can cause tension in the muscles of the thigh so remember to strech them.

Unfortunatly you can't change the shape of your knees. All exercises designed to limber the knees should be avoided!


The high arches: Favored in ballet(duh) because aesthetically pleasing and make pointework easier (unless really over arched) but is somewhat rigid and non-shock absorbing. People with naturally high arches can often have a short achiles tendon and/or tight calf muscles which limits the depth of the pliť. (and there for makes jumping harder).

Flat feet: Are difficult feet for pointework. They are a bit too shock absorbing which can cause inlamations in the ligaments and the plantar fascitis. Streghtening exercises for the foot muscles are recomended.


Foot Types

There are many different foot types, but most fall into one of the following categories:
-Greek or Morton's foot
-Egyptian foot
-Giselle or Peasant foot
-The Compressible foot
What kind of foot do you have?

Greek/Morton's Foot
This foot type has a second toe that is longer than all the others. The width tends to be narrow to medium.

Suggestion: Use a Crescent Cushion to help prevent a hammer toe and to relieve pressure from the second toe.

Egyptian Foot:
This foot type has a long first toe and the rest of the toes taper. The width tends to be narrow to medium.

Suggestion: Be sure to protect that big toe- it bears weight without help from the other toes. Use an Oval Cushion and/or a Dynamic Boxliner as well.

Giselle/Peasant Foot:
This foot type has at least three toes the same length (sometimes more) and the toes tend to be short. It tends to be well-suited for pointework. The width tends to be medium to wide.

Suggestion: Regular (not Deep) vamps often flatter this foot type.

The Compressible Foot
Many dancers have fine-boned, delicate feet to go with their thin, fine-boned bodies. These feet are usually highly compressible in the metatarsal area. If you gently squeeze the sides of the foot at the metatarsal the bones will move easily. There is not a great deal of flesh between them. Often this foot is a Greek or Egyptian foot.

Standing flat, this foot may create a relatively wide footprint, because the bones spread out to the sides. But en pointe, the foot compresses and the bones squeeze into one another. Thus the shoe that is sufficiently wide standing flat is too wide en pointe and the dancer slides easily into the box, causing pressure on the already prominent big toe or long second toe. Dropping into the box too much also causes the shoe to be too long and baggy en pointe, even though it may just barely be long enough standing flat. Suggestion: To keep this foot comfortable, try a Dynamic Boxliner and/or a Full Sockliner.


Here are some great ankle strengthening exercises:


1.Releves and eleves in each position (first, second, fifth, then on one foot, parallel, turned in). Make sure to switch feet, and do them as slow as possible. Always go to your fullest releve.

2. Rolling your arch with a tennis ball. Stand while doing this one, and make sure your holding onto something. Do these slowly, and switch feet. Do these parallel and w/ foot turned out.

3. Stand on a chair holding on to something. Put the ball of your foot on the edge so your
heel is off the chair and do slow releves and eleves from that poistion.switch feet!

4. Sit down and sit up nice and tall. Bend your knees, have a piece of cloth in front of your toes, then pick up the cloth while scrunching your toes and release it slowly with each toe (like using your hands to pick up the cloth).

5. Write the alphabet with each foot.. first name with one foot and last with the other. Switch and don't let your foot off the ground.

6.Sit up, back straight and knees bent. With foot pointed slowly move your legs out in front of you keeping your foot on the floor. Hold this and try to push it a little. Then repeat

7.Stand flat on the floor with the weight over toes, balls, and heels. Then try to "lift" the middle part of the foot. Scrunch your toes back towards the heels by lifting the arch, while gripping the floor with your toes. This will strenghten your feet and lift the arch. Remember to stretch after.

8.Sitting on the floor w/ your legs bent in front of you, lift all of your toes off the ground and from pinky toe to big toe roll through one at a time. This one is hard. Be sure to not let your foot come off the ground! It's kind of like playing the piano w/ your toes!:)

9. This one may not be helpful to some...but try massaging your feet. Massage them at the ball, in between your toes, on your arch, and on your achilles tendon. If you do this before dancing, it feels REALLY good!

10.Point your foot (arch part) and flex your toes, hold, then-point your toes(you almost have to scrunch them up) and flex your foot, hold. Repeat 30 times on each foot. It really stretches your instep. You could do it with a theraband as well. You have to have quite good coordination for it though!

11. Ankle circles- 20 clockwise and counter clockwise.

12.Rises in parallel (add more pressure).

13.Pick up marbles off the floor with your feet.

14.When doing a tendu (front, side, back) focus on not only pointing your foot, but actually pushing against the floor right before pointing, so rather than go directly from being flexed to pointed, you work your foot through releve.

15.Work at pointing your toes when doing all sorts of jumps, mostly just by practicing the jumps and getting used to the feel of having your feet completely pointed.



Thanks to a_Ballet_Dancer  and Elfie for the information on anatomy and to star_dancer15z for the ankle exercises. You guys are awesome!