Updated: Apr 15, 2020
Position: standing at the barre holding with 2 hands, barefoot or shoes, parallel, demi plié with the other foot in sur le coups de pied parallel
Exercise: Keeping the standing leg in plié the whole time, elevé to a 70-80% of the dancer’s full height of their arch, and then gently squeeze the heel back down. This is a great exercise for stability in the front of the arch, and developing the Soleus muscle (smaller calf muscle).
Teacher notes: if the student struggles with wobbling or sickling in this position, have them only elevé to 30-40% of their arch, and build strength there, and progress to more range of motion.
Do not allow the student to press into their highest “forced arch,” as this defeats the purpose of the exercise. Although the student may get a good stretch, they will not gain any of the strength. Controlling the ankle and only going as far as they choose to go is part of the strengthening.
Also check for sickling - I prefer students to do this exercise barefoot, so I can see the alignment of the Achilles tendon and what the toes are doing. If the student is sickling, add a theraband (exercise 3) or use one hand or finger to press against their arch to help guide and “cue” them into the correct position.