Forum: Ballet / Ballet - Beginners

Ballet - Beginners
HELP--A Dancer's Worst Nightmare: Pigeon Toes
By TLoveLeDance Comments: 4, member since Mon Feb 08, 2016
On Mon Feb 08, 2016 04:19 PM

Hi I am really interested in learning ballet and have been since I was a kid, but was always told that my natural born enemies(pigeon toes)would prevent me from doing so and that I would be better off learning Tap, which I also happen to love to learn. I haven't ever taken any lessons, but have always wanted to. I am 19 years old and don't want to learn to become a professional, I just love the dance form.

Is it possible for a beginner, with pigeon toes,(cringe, on both feet no less!!), to properly learn ballet? I keep trying to do research on dancers who have been trained and gotten past their disadvantage of being pigeon toed but I can find NO ONE! Am I the only one? Is the world against poor old TLove learning to dance ballet and Contemporary?! Please help, I have been looking for answers for years now. Thanks to anyone who replies. Let me know if you are or know any dancers who had this problem...

6 Replies to HELP--A Dancer's Worst Nightmare: Pigeon Toes

re: HELP--A Dancer's Worst Nightmare: Pigeon Toes
By Serendipity42Premium member Comments: 2267, member since Sun Aug 16, 2009
On Tue Feb 09, 2016 04:26 AM
I was born pigeon-toed but was in braces as a young child to correct it.

You can learn ballet. Not a problem there. You just need to be careful of your turnout. Don't over-force it. Make sure you have the three points of your foot always in contact with the ground on when on flat (heel, pinkie toe, big toe), so you don't kill your knees.

Trained properly, you can really enjoy ballet!!
re: HELP--A Dancer's Worst Nightmare: Pigeon Toes
By hummingbird Comments: 10412, member since Mon Apr 18, 2005
On Tue Feb 09, 2016 07:47 AM
There's no reason why you can't learn ballet, there are plenty of us who don't have flat turnout who still take classes.

I'm very glad that not all teachers just looked at turnout to see if people can take ballet classes, the world would have missed out on some amazing dancers if that was the only criteria.
re: HELP--A Dancer's Worst Nightmare: Pigeon Toes
By Theresamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 34891, member since Wed May 22, 2002
On Tue Feb 09, 2016 10:28 PM
My son has turned in toes. It's mild on the left, but he's actually got femoral anti-version on the right leg, so his right femur is actually set turned in. He literally can't help it, he just turns in. And he's danced his whole life, he's a great dancer. He just has to work a little harder at not sickling and turning out than the other kids do. No big deal. If you've got the love, then do it, and love it, even if you got dealt a bad hand that will make it a little extra tricky for you. :)
re: HELP--A Dancer's Worst Nightmare: Pigeon Toes
By sjerosemember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 1262, member since Thu May 11, 2006
On Wed Feb 10, 2016 08:51 AM
I also have femoral antiversion (and had a bit of a crooked spine as a child), so wore shoe braces for a bit as a toddler and had some major chiropractic work done when I was 4-7 years old. I did Irish dance for about 8 years, and always struggled with turnout but for the most part had a great time.

I'm not sure if this is common with people who have legitimate structural turnout issues, but I also had many many ankle sprains, which I attribute partly to the fact that my hips were just not properly turning out as much as I -and my instructors- wished, so I would align my feet in ways that my body is not designed for, causing instability. So please just be aware that you may be more prone to certain alignment issues, but that's nothing that can't be worked with if you have a good instructor that is willing to work with your body's unique characteristics. Enjoy the journey!
re: HELP--A Dancer's Worst Nightmare: Pigeon Toes
By TLoveLeDance Comments: 4, member since Mon Feb 08, 2016
On Thu Feb 11, 2016 08:13 PM
Thank you guys!
re: HELP--A Dancer's Worst Nightmare: Pigeon Toes
By kinsidhe Comments: 248, member since Fri May 14, 2010
On Fri Feb 12, 2016 09:42 AM
Hi!

Another 'pigeon-toed' dancer here. Like Sjerose, I was born with femoral anteversion, and badly turned in ( and up) feet. Had the braces in the early years, walked tripping over my own toes until I was nearly a teenager. Never danced until I was an adult, so there was a lot of 'set' patterns in my legs and feet.

I do not do ballet, but am a highland dancer which demands a lot of turning out. I struggle, it is harder for me than most in my classes, but I am managing it.

You can to! The things I've learned are:

There will be teachers who may feel you can not participate if you are pigeoned toed-Ignore these people and find one who will work with you! They are out there and unless it is against medical advice, dancing will only help as long as you pay attention to your body.

If you know the basis of why your feet are pigeon-toed it can help you work out how best to overcome it. Is it a malformation in the hip structure? Is it due to a torsion in a lower leg bone, is it in the ankle etc.

I had weakness in and instability in my hips and in my ankles-so I had to work on strengthening the turnout muscles-to keep my legs rotated outward AND work the muscles running along side the outside of my lower leg to keep my foot from sickling. I still tend to stand on the outside edge of my right foot with my toes turned in, especially when I am relaxed because my foot prefers that position! It is capable of being straight I just have to work it.

The biggest thing I had to learn is: Patience. You need to be patient with yourself and your body. You may experience more frustration working on things that require your feet turned out than others, because you have to work harder to just get them straight. Developing a good tolerance for frustration will go a long way! Sometimes I would feel very desolate when I was as turned out as my poor body will go and there is still a demand for more. Just know you are doing your best, work on it -everyday- even if it is only a few minutes everyday. Shake it off if you are being to feel tense with yourself. I literally shake my arms and legs to release the frustration/tension and smile and try again.

Serendipity42's advice about the three points of contact is vital! For most people having those three contact points will mean their knee is tracking over their second or third toe-thi is good it protects the knee. But for those of us with a different formation, the knee may track differently and the best way to make sure it is tracking safely for you-is those three points! For example, My left knee tracks over the second toe when I have those three points well balanced, my right does not because I have a torsion in my lower right leg that lines up the joints a bit differently. If I try to force the knee to track over the second toe, then my foot rolls to the outside and I lose contact with the ground with my big toe! The book: Tune up your turnout by Deborah Vogel, has a nice section covering various issues that some dancers may have regarding being pigeon-toed.

One bonus to taking up dance: You will find out so much more about your own body and how it works than you ever imagined! It is an amazing thing to become so attuned to how you connect to the world through your body.

My best advice:
Dance!
re: HELP--A Dancer's Worst Nightmare: Pigeon Toes (karma: 1)
By SLBdancermember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 2129, member since Sat Jul 20, 2002
On Sun Feb 21, 2016 11:32 AM
You can definitely learn, and it may even help correct it! Think of it as a form of physical therapy that will help you strengthen the muscles that will help you turn out more/straighter.

When I was little, my feet were pigeon-toed and I was constantly tripping over myself once I learned to walk. The doctors told my parents they could either do surgery and bracing or put me in ballet and see if it corrects itself. So, at the age of 3 I started ballet classes and over time it improved due to working on turnout in class.
re: HELP--A Dancer's Worst Nightmare: Pigeon Toes
By TLoveLeDance Comments: 4, member since Mon Feb 08, 2016
On Mon Feb 22, 2016 12:44 PM
Thanks for your advice. I actually always worry about searching for the right teacher and one who won't judge me so harshly on my pigeon toes, and choose not to give me lessons.
re: HELP--A Dancer's Worst Nightmare: Pigeon Toes (karma: 1)
By Gaudium Comments: 1366, member since Wed Apr 14, 2004
On Sun Apr 17, 2016 10:05 AM
I was just thinking about your problem of Pigeon toes and started to laugh. When I started dancing a few years ago, "That would have been when the Dead Sea was only slightly sick", my uniform was black sweats and a white "T" shirt. After some time the dance school put on a program for the public, "You know to show the parents what they were spending their money on and to impress the grandparents, or something like that'. We of course did not wear the usual gear No, no we had costumes, we were big time.

My costume was white tights and shoes along with a light brown or tan cut off jacket. On the surface no big deal right, wrong! Everything was just fine thank you, until I walked out onto the stage and the bright lights made my white tights almost invisible. I of course could not see the problem but everyone else could, my dance partner started to laugh and refused to or was unable to stop laughing, the instructor replaced her in a fit of displeasure.

I had some problems dancing with my replacement partner but all in all the program went as well as could be expected for our first time out. I still did not realize what the problem was until our next class when the instructor started talking about professionalism. My original partner was the best dancer in the school. Because she was replaced in the show, her parents removed her from the school.

Not one other person or student ever mentioned the problem to me, other than to say they enjoyed the program and how good it was. When people started telling me they enjoyed the dance, I was hooked and worked twice as hard to communicate with the audience. In fact I worked harder all the time even in practice and class.

So I was not pigeon towed but had my own problems, a poor turnout and a customs failure. No matter at the same time I learned that Ballet is a language and we must learn to speak clearly with the audience sharing our souls. In the ballet we become artists upon inducing a positive emotional response from the audience, nothing else should count.
re: HELP--A Dancer's Worst Nightmare: Pigeon Toes
By ChristinePremium member Comments: 6815, member since Wed Feb 04, 2009
On Wed Apr 20, 2016 10:22 PM
Lots of great advice above....

I just want to remind you, Bob Fosse had pigeon toes, and huge ugly hands.... he made it work for him!

Hang in there.

xoxo

Keep On Dancing*
re: HELP--A Dancer's Worst Nightmare: Pigeon Toes
By Theresamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 34891, member since Wed May 22, 2002
On Sat Apr 23, 2016 11:31 PM
You can definitely learn, and it may even help correct it! Think of it as a form of physical therapy that will help you strengthen the muscles that will help you turn out more/straighter.


We trooped James up and down the country side, talking to doctors about his legs. His pediatrician had noticed the pigeon toes, but said he'd outgrow it. When he got to...first grade, maybe, I was like "Uh, so remember when you said he'd outgrow that? Observe...", so he met a handful of orthopedic doctors then, and then again when he cracked his knee cap. The doctor said absolutely, unequivocally, he wanted him in any sort of activities where he'd have to learn control over his legs. He specifically said "If you hadn't already told me he was dancing, I'd tell you to have him start." Swimming and soccer were also recommended. So, dance. It's doctor recommended. :D
re: HELP--A Dancer's Worst Nightmare: Pigeon Toes
By Moonlitefairy06member has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 7177, member since Fri Apr 16, 2004
On Sun Apr 24, 2016 04:36 PM
TLoveLeDance wrote:

Thanks for your advice. I actually always worry about searching for the right teacher and one who won't judge me so harshly on my pigeon toes, and choose not to give me lessons.


I don't think you'll have to worry about this. Turing you away would be turning away a paying customer. People generally don't do that. Like you said you aren't interested in being a professional dancer, I'm sure any studio with adult or young adult recreational classes would be happy to work with you.

ReplySendWatch