No matter how basic your dance class is, you are going to have to point your foot. There's simply no dancing without it.
The beautifully pointed foot is perhaps the most recognizable image of most dancing styles.
From Ballet, where the point is taken to its extreme by the use of pointe shoes, to the bare pointed foot of Modern Dance, the energy that pulsates out of the pointed Jazz foot or the mystique that comes from the jewelry-adorned foot of Middle Eastern dances, the point is the dancer's weapon of choice.
It can be powerful, delicate, strong or subtle.
So it's clearly important.
And you probably think you know how to do it, right?
Well, there's even a right and a wrong way to point your foot.
And believe it or not, the best way to learn is not by standing up. But by sitting on the floor.
You'll see the logic of this when you try it. Just follow these simple steps...
So, as promised, firstly, sit on the floor with either one or both legs straight out in front of you.
Now follow the process below and you will be able to point your foot beautifully in a matter of seconds.
Relax your foot.
Tighten your leg muscles. See how your heel is off the floor?
Now, keeping your muscles taut, push the ball of your foot away from you - as if you are pushing very hard on the gas pedal. Your heel will come into contact with the floor again, but don't loosen those leg muscles. Try to feel them elongating - making your whole leg longer.
Now, still keeping those muscles nice and tight, slowly flick your toes away from you.
Ta dah! There's your point.
This ugly thing is NOT a point. It's what you get if you don't keep your muscles tightened and elongated, but flick your toes away from you anyway. Not very pretty, is it? It looks like a claw, with the toes bent over but a relaxed foot. So always make sure that your whole foot is engaged in the point, not just your toes.
This is called a 'Sickle'. The term sickle means 'in the shape of the crescent moon'. What's happened here is that, instead of keeping the foot in a straight line with the leg, it has curled around and inwards. This is bunching the muscles in the foot too much. Remember to keep your leg and foot muscles elongated and you'll prevent this from happening.
So there you are, you now have a beautiful, strong point and you also know how to avoid the classic mistakes.
Once you get used to the sensation of pointing your foot the correct way, it should feel 'right'.
And being able to point your foot well will always make whatever dancing you are doing look a million times better.
It's the fastest way to make you look like a dancer. It's also fantastic exercise for your feet.
So practise whenever you can and your feet will be your greatest dancing asset.
If you've read all the way through our tips, you'll have had many dance adventures by now. So it's time to take care of your body and find a little bit of bliss with our after care guide...