Meet a ballet dancer and they would tell you that the feet are the most important part of their art and trade. Besides providing stability, the flexibility of the feet also allows the dancer to perform mind-bending graceful movements on the stage.
As a result, having what’s called “banana feet” is desired by every ballet student and performer.
Often called the “perfect feet”, it’s gained almost a mythical status among ballet dancers. So, in this guide, we’ll explore the various techniques and exercises that can help you develop banana feet and dispel some of the myths about this foot shape.
Table of Contents
- What Are Banana Feet In Ballet?
- Some Dancers Are Born With “Banana Feet”
- And, Some Dancers Are Born With “Biscuit Feet”
- How To Get Banana Feet Ballet?
- Keep Practicing!
What Are Banana Feet In Ballet?
Banana feet, also known as “banana arches” or “banana-shaped feet”, is a term used in ballet to describe a dancer’s foot when it is pointed and fully extended. For example, when the ballet dancer goes en pointe, the arches of their feet will curve into a banana-like shape.
Since en pointe is one of the most iconic moves in ballet, needless to say, all ballet dancers want their feet to be as curved and good-looking as possible. That’s why it’s often called the “perfect feet”!
Ideally, a banana foot has a deep arch, sharply pointed toes, and a smoothly curved instep. This creates a beautiful and elongated line.
But the aesthetic is only part of the equation. Having banana feet allows dancers to perform many technical elements of the dance with greater precision and grace.
Some Dancers Are Born With “Banana Feet”
This is the biggest myth about banana feet of them all: you have to be born with them. That’s only half true.
Yes, some dancers are born with feet that are more arched than others, but it’s not fair to say that banana feet are wholly genetics.
Even those that are aided at birth by genetics to have a better foot shape need a lot of training to further develop the shape of the foot, too.
And of course, training also helps you with controlling and maintaining banana feet. Even if you have the most beautifully-arched feet in the world, your performance still won’t look good if you don’t put in the hours of training and practice to hone your control and technical skill.
Ultimately, achieving banana feet in ballet requires a combination of natural ability, hard work, and dedication to training and technique. So long as you put in the effort, any dancer can achieve a nice posture and a good foot shape ready for the stage.
And, Some Dancers Are Born With “Biscuit Feet”
Biscuit feet are the mirror opposite of banana feet. Those with biscuit feet will have a flatter arch and a broader metatarsal area, creating a wider and shorter appearance.
While banana feet are an advantage for dancers, biscuit feet ballet aren’t. In fact, they can even be a challenge.
It may be harder for people with biscuit feet to perform certain ballet movements, such as pointe work and jumps. Because they lack the same level of natural arch and flexibility.
But as mentioned earlier, having “biscuit feet” isn’t a permanent condition.
With proper training and technique, dancers with biscuit feet can still develop their foot strength and flexibility until they’re able to perform the tricky maneuvers that people with banana feet can do.
A good instructor will make up a tailored training program to help you overcome this issue. It may involve specific exercises and stretches aimed at improving foot and ankle flexibility, and some techniques such as properly placing the foot in the pointe shoe to create the illusion of a higher arch.
How To Get Banana Feet Ballet?
Let’s get to the juicy part: how do you get ballerina banana feet?
Unfortunately, we have to warn you that you’re not going to develop good posture and a nicely-arched pair of feet in just a couple of weeks. Depending on your body, it can take months – even years – to get to that point.
But with perseverance and maybe a good instructor, you’ll find the time passing really quickly!
Check more: What Is A Ballet Relevé?
Strengthen Your Feet And Ankles
Having strong muscles in your feet and ankles is important. They don’t just help you form the sharp curve of a banana foot but also help you maintain it for long periods without tiring or cramping.
Perform exercises like relevés, pliés, and tendus to strengthen your foot and ankle muscles. You can use a resistance band to up the difficulty after a while.
Stretch Your Feet And Ankles
Other than strength, flexibility is another department that you have to focus on. The higher the arch of your feet, the more beautiful your feet will look on stage. That requires a great deal of flexibility.
Do stretches like calf stretches, ankle circles, and foot flexes to improve the flexibility and range of motion of your feet and ankles.
Use A Foot Stretcher
If you haven’t reached skeletal maturity (which happens in your late teens), having a foot stretcher can help you improve your joint mobility.
Use it regularly under the supervision of a qualified teacher or physiotherapist because it’s really easy to overstretch the foot and weaken it (rather than strengthen it.)
Practice Proper Alignment
Work on improving your posture and alignment during ballet movements. Proper alignment can help create a longer, more extended line in your feet and legs.
Wear Properly Fitted Pointe Shoes
This is crucial. Pointe shoes that fit properly and are correctly placed on the foot can help create the illusion of a higher arch. It’ll also help you prevent injury (chafing, bruising, etc.) and improve the quality of your performance.
We highly recommend consulting with a qualified ballet teacher or physiotherapist to ensure that you are performing exercises and stretches correctly and, more importantly, safely.
“I’m disadvantaged as I was not born with the perfect feet”. Don’t think that!
It’s entirely possible to develop banana feet through hard work and training. By following the tips and techniques outlined in this article, you can now begin working towards achieving beautiful banana feet.
If you have any other questions you’d like to ask, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comment section. We’ll get back to you as soon as we can!