Importance of Pointed Toes
Pole dancing for fitness is an incredibly strenuous full body workout, far removed from the sketchy strip-club booty shakes some might imagine. Most pole fitness routines combine American modern dance, Chinese pole acrobatics and individual dancers' zest, flair and stage presence for a beautiful performance piece.
But if you've spent any time browsing YouTube pole dance videos, you'll see a glaring chasm between professional pole routines and amateur dancers with poles in their living rooms. Many dancers have slouched shoulders, and look like they're clinging to the pole for dear life. Others have strange hunched spins, that might be graceful if they didn't look so painful.
How do dancers make the transition from Quasimodo awkwardness to Odette-like grace? The answer is simple: Pointed Toes.
Sexy or Childbirth
All pole dance instructors in class, on paper or in videos, hammer home one key point -- dancers MUST point their toes at all times. To quote a teacher at DC's Jordin's Paradise exercise studio, "Pointed Toes are the difference between sexy and childbirth."
See for yourself -- stand in front of your pole and try an inverted v. Point your toes -- sexy. Flex your feet -- childbirth.
Pointing your toes is easy to say and harder to do, but a few simple exercises can make a big difference in toe-point and overall dance poise.
Pole dancers who've taken ballet or modern dance lessons have a firm grasp on the principles of pointing toes. These dance disciplines provide several tips, tricks and hard work exercises to make toe point easier.
The first major lesson about pointing toes is that Toes Don't Matter. What's really important is Pointing Your Feet.
Think about your last few pole routines. Have you ever noticed your feet are flexed when you lift into the air, flexed through the complex physical portions of the move, and only pointed (belatedly) at the finish? Ballerina feet are amazingly curved. Some of them can even ouch the floor with heels and toes at the same time -- ouch[!].
Pole dancers aren't looking for the same effect (thank goodness!), but a straight line from knee to the ball of the foot creates the look of sylth-like grace essential that separates artistic pole dancing from brutish pole pull-ups.
Nichelle's Toe Sit-ups
Toe Sit-ups for a Perfect Point
The real trick behind pointed toes is pointing the foot. To point the foot, flex the foot at the ANKLE, not focusing on the toes at all.
Danceadvantage's Toe Sit-ups are a great exercise for practicing your foot point.
Here's my interpretation -- In a Toe Sit-up, you point your foot really hard, aiming for a straight line from knee to the top of your toes.
It's non-intuitive, but working backwards helped me understand. First, you point your toes. Then, you point your ankle. Then, tighten your calf to point your foot a little more. Then, squeeze your knee to point your foot a tiny bit more. Finally, tighten your inner thigh for the last teeny tiny bit of point.
Now that your foot's pointed, it's time to flex your toes. Keeping everything else taut, you can flex your toes up and down, up and down, without moving the rest of the foot at all.
Pointed Feet Make Pole Dancing Pretty
Pointed feet make a huge difference in your pole routine. You'll feel more graceful and in control. And more importantly, you'll look more graceful and in control.
Pointing the foot gives the illusion the dancer is floating around the pole instead of plodding or stomping. Your toes can be flat (while standing on the ground), or pointed (when soaring through the air), but the foot ALWAYS remains pointed.
Because your foot is always pointed, there's no more flex-foot lag when transitioning from the ground to the air. Flex-foot lag is a mid-move moment, between set-up and finish, when your strength is surging to get you into the air, and pointing your toes is the last thing on your mind.
If your feet are already pointed, when you lift off the ground, your toes LOOK pointed, even if you're not concentrating on them completely.
Bringing Out Your Dance Diva
Pointing your feet (think va-va-voom stilettos) may also make you feel sexier, and add a more flirtatious feel to your dance.
Pointing your feet (and sometimes your toes) shifts your center of gravity, pulling your bum forwards, your shoulders down and your chest upwards and outwards. It's like a complete dance makeover in one simple (but strenuous) move.
KiKisPoleBlog from Canada on October 29, 2012:
This was a wonderful article! I also found the video to be beneficial for those who struggle with pointing there toes.
toomuchmint (author) on August 05, 2012:
Pole dancing isn't for everyone, wilderness. Hopefully paying attention to pointed toes doesn't spoil the dance for you. One dancer I love to watch is Felix Cane. She was a classical ballet dancer for 19 years before switching to pole competitions. She now dances with Cirque de Soleil and tours the world doing pole acrobatics. Her toes are always pointed! Thanks wilderness for reading and commenting! :-)
Dan Harmon from Boise, Idaho on August 05, 2012:
Although I will never pole dance, I have watched and appreciated some amazing pole dancers. I'll have to pay attention to their toes and feet the next time, but I highly suspect you are entirely correct.
An interesting hub - thanks!
toomuchmint (author) on June 06, 2012:
Thanks Mhatter, for stopping by! I don't know Butterfly personally, but I've seen her work. She's quite amazing.
Did you know she had no formal dance training growing up? She took extracurricular gymnastics as a small child. Then, she fell into pole fitness more than a decade later.
What a testament to hard work!
Martin Kloess from San Francisco on June 05, 2012:
hear this may become an olympic sport. do you know Butterfly?