Embellishment Tutorial: Foot Exercises
Tango Embellishment Overview | Basic Tap | Circles + Drawing | Flick | Cha Cha Cha | Foot Excercises
A big part of being able to do embellishments well is having strong, flexible and stable feet and ankles. (It is also a big part of just following in general. After all, you will often find yourself balancing on one leg and you need to be able to take controlled, strong steps backwards. If your feet are out of alignment, the rest of your body will be too.)
EACH foot alone contains 26 bones, 33 muscles, 31 joints and over 100 ligaments (!), so don't dance as though they were just stumps at the end of your legs. Use every muscle each time you step. Here are a few exercises that I find useful for building foot strength and will also help you articulate through your feet.
POINT & FLEX
This exercise can be done under your desk at work all day long:
Sit in a chair and take off your shoes. Raise your legs off the floor so they are straight out in front of you. (If you can't get them straight thats fine, just raise them as much as you are able.) Point both your feet strongly from the ankles down to your tip-toes, like you are trying to get your toes to curl down to touch the bottom of your heel as the arch of your foot rounds upwards. Hold this position for 30 seconds.
Now, maintain this foot position in the ankle and arch, but isolate just your toes and flex them back like you are trying to touch them to the top of your feet. Hold this position for 30 seconds.
Now, flex both feet, bending them towards you at the ankle as if you were trying to get the top of the arches and the toes to fold up against your shins. Hold this position for 30 seconds.
Circle the feet clockwise from the ankles, feeling the feel roll through a point, then to the side, then a flex, and around to the remaining side. Make 10 full, slow circles, and then repeat in the opposite direction.
Now articulate the feet slowly from flex through point and then back again. Repeat 10 times. Be aware of how the muscles in the feet work and contract to do this.
This exercise can be done while standing in lines or waiting for the elevator, although it is best done in bare feet:
Stand on both feet and slowly rise up until you are standing on just the balls of your feet. Take 5 full seconds to rise. Hold your balance up there for 5 seconds. Keep your center strong. Feel which muscles in your feet are working to hold your balance. Now take 5 full seconds to lower your heels back to the ground again. Make sure your big toes remain planted firmly on the ground and that you don't ever roll to the outsides of your feet.
Repeat this sequence but do it while standing just on the right foot the whole time. Then do it with just the left foot.
While standing in bare feet, isolate your big toes and lift just them up and while pressing the four other toes down to the floor. Then lift the four little toes up while pressing the big toes down. Then lift all your toes up, fan them out, and press them down to the floor one at a time, starting with the baby toes and working in. Repeat 5 times.