As dancers, our feet are one of the tools necessary for the job. So, we are always working on strengthening and stretching our feet. One thing almost all dancers desire is a higher relevé. But how do you get a higher relevé? Here are MTD tricks on getting a higher relevé:
Trick #1: Alignment is Golden
Sometimes a low relevé can be a sign of poor alignment. First, check to make sure the whole body is aligned by stacking all of the joints meaning your shoulders are directly above your knees and your knees are directly above the ankles. Once the body is aligned, rise to relevé. Looking profile, are your ankles in line with your toes or are they rolling in/out? Is your weight centered between all five toes? Are you imagining the ankles moving not just up, but up and forward to pull your weight on to the toes?
Trick #2: Determine Your Weak Spot
For some dancers, alignment might be what is holding back their relevé. For others, it may be flexibility. Determine what you specifically need to work on. If you are having difficulty determining what is preventing a higher relevé consider asking a teacher for their opinion. Once you understand your weak spot, you can target that specifically rather than over-working in other areas.
Trick #3: Strengthen
When thinking of strengthening for a high relevé, many dancers may think that means just strengthening the feet. However, in order to have a higher relevé, the body must be in alignment which means overall strengthening. While it may seem odd, consider doing core and back strengthening exercises to help improve your relevé. Having a strong center will allow you to hold your weight more effectively which will equate to a higher relevé. Check out Lisa Howell’s “The Ballet Blog” for strengthening ideas!
Trick #4: Stretch
Like strengthening for relevés, stretching for high relevés does not just include stretching the feet. Tight shins and calves could be holding back your relevé. Having tight hips could also be hindering your alignment as well. In addition to stretching your feet, make sure you are stretching other parts of the body too.
Pro-tip: Many dancers suffer from tight Achilles tendons which can impact your relevé. Focus on stretching these tendons and always assuring your heels are down after jumps.
Trick #5: Always Go For It
Just like anything in dance, practice is ultimately how you will see improvements. Make sure in class that you are always going for your highest relevé whether you are holding a position at the barre or doing a pirouette center stage. The repetition will eventually lead to muscle memory and a higher relevé.
Pro-tip: Stretch your feet before class and do a few strengthening exercises that way they are completely warmed up once you start class.