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"Sickled Feet" In Ballet: What Does It Mean When A Ballerina Sickles?

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This article is about sickled feet in ballet. What does "sickling" mean? What is the difference between sickling, pointing and pronating? Read also what to do to avoid sickled feet and how pointe shoes can help you achive your goal. The optimum target of ballet is to keep straight, beautiful lines! This means that the dancer has to constantly stretch every single part of his/her body. Concerning the lines of the feet, you may have heard that you have to continuously pointe, turn out and pronate your feet. Although graspable enough in theory, when practising it is really difficult and many mistakes may happen... One of them is to sickle your feet!

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But what does exactly "sickling" mean?

Sickled FeetTo sickle your foot is to turn it inwards. For example, if you take your right foot and turn the ankle towards your left foot (instead turning it to the right side) you sickle! This way not only you stretch incorrect muscles of the foot, but you "break" the so-called line as well. And unfortunately -or not- while  dancing these infinitesimal movements have a huge aesthetic effect.

Pronated FeetTo better understand the distinction of the motions of the foot, if you pointe your right ankle as straight as you can this is pointing, and if you pointe it but also turn it towards the right side as much as you can this is pronating- and it does look gorgeous!

The ankle joint has a naturally larger range of motion inwards (35 degrees) than outwards (25 degrees), so when pointing, dancers with usually untrained ankles use to sickle. This also makes your heel to drop behind your leg and can even lead to injuries. If you sickle and you are en pointe or relevé, you will be so unstable that you could sprain your ankle too. Aesthetically, the pure, straight and stable line will break, as one very significant "visual" (which is to keep the heels forward) will not happen.

Martha GrahamBesides sickling is not desired in ballet, in some modern forms of dancing it is a choreographic choice to use it, rumor has it. For example, in some works of Martha Graham, the dancers were asked to sickle their feet as en expressive tool, to show vulnerability or a broken body.

Yet, in classical ballet sickling is a bad indicator of poor trainning. So if you face this temporary difficulty, apart from good trainning, you should check pointe shoe tips that may help you pointe and pronate your foot.

So, the one and only golden rule is the V-cut pointe shoes with higher wings (the sides of the box), to keep you more stable and help you pointe your feet straight.

What about "compressible feet", "knuckling" and "bunions"? Learn everything you want to know by clicking the appropriate articles.

Note: If you experience sickling it is about time you tried two Grishko's pointe shoe models to understand the difference. Go for Grishko2007 and Dreampointe2007 and find out the difference and the "push" that the higher wings of Dreampointe2007 can give you!

Feel free to fill out our "let's get fitted" if you need our opinion about your own pointe shoe sizing and models!

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Comments ()
Sarah Arnold
19 october 2019, 08:15
I hope you don't mind but I quoted you on my blog post about sickled feet in ballet! Thank you Inna for all your great, informative work, Sarah. theaccidentalartist.me/sickling-your-feet-in-ballet-join-the-challenge/
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  1. This comment was deleted.
    1. Vanessa bennett
      30 december 2020, 07:12
      thank you!!!
      reply

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