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Ballet/Ankle Roll-In Concerns

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Question
Hi Dianne,

My daughter is 12 years old and has recently been accepted into the studio's "company" level.  She has been dancing recreationally for 8 years (jazz, tap) but has not had a lot of ballet until this past year and a half.  She has a tendency to roll her ankles inward.  This also has an effect on her turn-out where she cannot turn out as far as some of the other dancers.  She is very aware of the issue since the ballet teacher brought it up and she is constantly working on pushing her ankles outward.  Is there anything I can do, such as taking her to a podiatrist or orthopedic doctor?  She also has some issues when she is in jazz or tap where ankles or hips "crack" or "pop", possibly because she may be a little double-jointed, I'm not sure.  I asked her pediatrician and she recommended seeing a physical therapist.  

Because she is dancing so much now and is approaching the age to go en pointe, I am concerned about injuries and how to prevent them if we can.  

I believe the issue of the ankles rolling in is somewhat common and would love to hear from someone with experience!

Thank you!

Answer
Hi Helen. Below are three articles with some exercises to increase ballet turnout.

http://ballettoeshoes.blogspot.com/2011/04/pointe-shoe-exercises-need-strong.htm

http://balletshoesandpointeshoes.blogspot.com/2013/01/ballet-foot-positions-whil

http://balletshoesandpointeshoes.blogspot.com/2007/07/ballet-shoes-and-pointe-sh

My main concern is that your daughter's focus move off her ankles and feet, and into how she perceives and uses her turnout from her hip joints, and holds it well. She should not be concerned with perfect ballet foot positions until she has learned how to do this. I'm surprised her teachers allow it.

Secondly, it would be good for her to see a physical therapist. Sometimes cracking and popping sounds are from misuse and strain, and one can even start to wear out tendons and ligaments. Hopefully it will be established that this is not the case with your daughter.

Forcing the feet into positions where they should not go forces the ankles to roll in. It is common, but teachers should not allow it.

If she is going to be serious about dancing, I highly recommend the book "Tune Up Your Turnout" by Deborah Vogel. You can get it at http://bit.ly/PnMZbP

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Dianne M. Buxton

Expertise

I can answer questions about ballet positions, ballet movements and ballet technique, pointe shoes and pre pointe exercise, mens training, ballet diet, general health issues related to dance, artistry, performance, modern dance, rehabilitation from injuries, and teaching ballet. I have taught ballet, choreographed, produced and directed dance companies. For any answers related to health questions I will offer my experience, and give references to information, but I also automatically include "see a professional".

Experience

dancer, ballet and modern, choreographer, dance teacher, artistic director, ballet mistress, producer

Organizations
I.S.T.D. Actra, Actors Equity

Publications
http://ezinearticles.com http://ballettoeshoes.blogspot.com http://streetarticles.com http://balletconnections.com

Education/Credentials
Graduate of the National Ballet School of Canada where I studied Cecchetti, Bournonville, Vaganova and Graham technique. Taught at the National Ballet School of Canada, York University, George Brown College and Harvard University.

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