April 16, 2011

Mon Talon Terrible

There it is, back in the infamous spotlight again - my talon terrible, i.e. my terrible heel. To be fair, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this part of my body. It is a perfectly nice heel, moisturized and not a blister in sight. It´s just that the lines of communication from upstairs dance central (that would be the brain) down  to pavement pounding heel-territory are fickle at best. "Present your heel!" "Heel forward!" I do as told, relaying the command to dance central, loud and clear, and usually it works well enough. Right until we start turning pirouettes. Somewhere along the route from cerebellum to tibia to foot the message gets lost. The heel no longer wants to come forward! All of the sudden it is scared by the spotlight.

It is of course a matter of placement and timing. I´m too slow to come into position and start turning before my passé retiré is placed, fully en dehors and at the knee. This does not happen always and every time we do pirouettes, but it is a frequent and bad habit nonetheless. As in really bad.. Yesterday after pointe class I tried to do a preparatory double pirouette (I had already changed into soft shoes) before going into fouetté, but I had absolutely no control. And just my luck, Madame was watching.

Well, actually it is lucky. She of course picked on the position of my heel immediately, and might I add, for the umpteenth time. "Johanna, heel forward! Show me, again. No, more. Better! Again. More!" At this point I´m just standing on flat foot, holding my passé and trying to forward the heel even more, using every muscle I have got. Madame: "You see, you can do it. There is nothing physically wrong with you.  You really have to focus on this. Everything else is already better now!" She is kind but dead serious, and I understand that the time has come to step up, heel forward!

I´m posting this video here for obvious reasons. La Ferri is just so freaking fabulous. In fact I think her über-feet might be the reason behind those ridiculous padded arch enhancers that even Grishko is selling! Now if I could only imprint these forwarded heels onto mine.. :)


  1. Mine like that is the left heel. In the poor heel's defense I sprained it landing a grande jete when I was fifteen and I always have to fuss at it so it doesn't sickle. I started working at the center bars a while back (facing mirror at barre) to keep track of my feet better and it seems to help...

  2. Hi Candice,

    that´s a good way to check it, as long as your head does not drop while you look ;)

    We don´t have center barres, but I usually stand at the end of the barre, so I can see at least my left side in the mirror. My main problem though is turning, there is so much going on that I find it hard to focus on the ankle & heel.
    It´s really a stupid mannerism.

    But now I´ll be thinking of nothing else! Funny how my life seems to depend on that stubborn heel. Well, not really. :D But I DO want to get it right!

    Ouch in regards to the spraining of ankle! Really every dancer´s nightmare. Did you get any PT on it? I wonder if using a theraband would help at all? Or is it more a psyke thing?

  3. The ankle healed pretty well - that was 15 years ago after all. If I watch it, it's usually fine - it just likes being lazy. Now the correction I get is "heel forward" which is a better one. "Try to line up your heel with the front two toes because that's where more of your weight goes."

    Same teacher told us a story of one of her teachers, an englishwoman, who wanted to be able to balance a teacup on the inside of the dancer's heel in attitude devant.

  4. Candice, our teacher told us to balance an imaginary glass - which I immediately envisioned as pink champagne. A girl´s gotta do what a girl´s gotta do, right?

    Then again, why would you want to balance anything on the inside of the ankle? It´s not like we´re practicing for a Chinese balance act..

    BUT: asides from not looking pretty, even a slightly sickled foot can cause havoc. Just think of jumping & landing!


To That Special Ballet Teacher

To that special ballet teacher, who not only teaches you about technique, but helps build your confidence, nurtures your inner artist, ...