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Sunday, December 24, 2023

Methods and Ideas for Getting Snug Dancing Barefoot

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“My sneakers really feel like an extension of my very own ft,” says flamenco dancer Alice Blumenfeld, who makes use of leather-soled heeled sneakers. “I really feel extra snug kneading and massaging the ground and creating this relationship with the ground via my sneakers.” When Blumenfeld started collaborating with choreographer Felise Bagley on barefoot works, it was an adjustment to shed her sneakers and discover the identical use of her weight. “For most individuals, it’s extra of a problem to work in heels,” she says. “As an alternative, I needed to begin from zero, since I’ve spent 20 years making these sneakers really feel like part of me.”

Whereas dancing barefoot could current sudden challenges, requiring dancers to strengthen completely different muscular tissues and pay additional consideration to foot well being, it could possibly additionally encourage new methods of approaching motion.

Recalibrate Muscle groups

a woman wearing a bold black and white striped dress posing in front of a bright yellow background
Khalia Campbell. Photograph by Dario Calmese, Courtesy AAADT.

For dancers accustomed to performing in sneakers, dancing barefoot would possibly require participating less-used muscular tissues. “The best way you strategy motion goes to be completely different,” says Khalia Campbell, a dancer with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Dancing barefoot presents an elevated reference to the ground that Campbell says has modified the best way she shifts her weight, and it could possibly have an effect on steadiness and alignment, as effectively.

Dancing with out sneakers additionally calls for better engagement from foot muscular tissues, necessitating modifications to each warm-up and conditioning routines. Blumenfeld makes use of a sequence of workouts impressed by a former ballet teacher to get the minuscule foot muscular tissues firing and to seek out articulation, together with stretching every toe individually earlier than urgent each into the bottom with as a lot energy as doable. She additionally does foot and ankle workouts with a TheraBand and sequences of tendus. Workout routines like arch lifts and doming also can assist develo­p the intrinsic muscular tissues of the ft.

Foot Health

Footwear present assist and cushioning, so it’s essential to take additional care of the ft when dancing barefoot. Within the studio, ft ought to be clear and freed from cuts, blisters, or infections that might worsen with out sneakers. Over time, calluses will naturally develop. Whereas they function a protecting barrier and can assist with turning and gliding, excessively thick calluses could cut back the power to really feel the ground.

The situations of a studio or stage flooring can have a unique affect on naked ft. Campbell notes that turning on a sticky flooring in naked ft could make a knee harm extra seemingly: “Your foot goes a technique and your knee can go the opposite means due to the friction from the ground.” For a sticky flooring, Campbell recommends strengthening the glutes and different turnout muscular tissues, in order to depend on musculature, versus joints and different connective tissue, for assist.

A bit extra self-care can be a requirement when dancing barefoot. “It’s essential that you just take the time and study the issues that you’ll want to do to remain effectively,” Bagley says, including {that a} calf stretch is a vital addition to warm-up. Rolling out the ft with a tennis ball, massaging them, and/or soaking them in heat water and Epsom salt can cut back muscle stress and soreness after an extended day of dancing.

a woman with long dark hair dancing outside
Felise Bagley. Photograph by Brett Bagley, Courtesy Bagley.

Permit Artistry to Blossom

Dancing barefoot can present new views on even essentially the most acquainted of actions. For So Younger An, a dancer with the Martha Graham Dance Firm who was a member of the Korean Nationwide Ballet, transitioning to dancing barefoot opened up an entire new realm of artistic chance.

“Graham is about gravity, so you actually have to hook up with the ground and really feel the earth,” she says. “That doesn’t imply all the time sinking down. I can use ballet method within the higher physique to raise up, however my legs and ft actually hook up with the bottom and it expands my traces.”

Campbell, too, says she feels an elevated creative expansiveness when dancing barefoot. “After I transitioned to dancing barefoot absolutely, I seen there’s a way of connectivity to the ground and to the bottom,” she says. “And, additionally, I really feel like once I dance barefoot it provides me entry to be extra expressive with my physique.”

a woman wearing a long dress dancing barefoot on stage
Alice Blumenfeld in a barefoot work created with Bagley. Photograph by Geno Oradini, Courtesy Blumenfeld.

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