To normal people, dancers may seem to have a strange fixation on feet. But we have good reason for our obsession: We depend on a pair of strong, supple feet to finish our lines, hold up our bodies and help us move with grace. And, if we don't treat them right, those same tootsies can cause us an enormous amount of pain.

How can you strengthen and show off your pair at their best? We recently dug in the Dance Magazine archives to find some of our best tips. Click each link to get all the info!

Strengthen: No matter what kind of feet your parents passed down to you, there are ways to make yours stronger and more articulate. Strengthening the intrinsic foot muscles can give you a greater range of motion, while stabilizing your ankle muscles will improve your line (and balance) on demi and full pointe.

Avoid Bunions: They may seem inevitable, but a smart prevention routine can keep bunions from appearing. It’s all about gaining enough strength to avoid rolling in.

Show Them Off: The right pair of flat slippers and pointe shoes can make your feet look and feel better. Pro tip: Go shopping for new pairs in the morning, before your feet swell.

Beat Blisters: Don’t let a pesky hot spot ruin your rehearsal. Simple steps can nip them in the bud, and smart remedies can help them heal without getting infected.

Harness Your High Arches: They may be pretty, but great-looking feet often need more stabilization.

Sidestep Common Injuries: Protect yourself from “dancer’s tendonitis,” ankle sprains and stress fractures with a smart prevention routine.

Visualize a Better Line: The advice of a great teacher can turn a floppy ankle into a fully extended limb. Some of our favorite words of pointing wisdom:

“A proper pointe comes from feeling energy radiate from your shin down to your foot.” —Michele Wiles

“Think of sending light out through your toes.” —Deborah Vogel

"The pointes for girls, I always say, have to be like an elephant's trunk; strong and yet flexible and soft." –George Balanchine

 

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Studio Bleu students Jaxon Keller, Samantha Halker and Alia Wiggins. Photos by Chris Stark

How Turning Boards and Practice Mats Can Revolutionize Your Dance Training

When it comes to equipment, dancers don't need much—just shoes and whatever can fit in their dance bag. But between rehearsals in the studio and performances on stage, one major piece of equipment often goes overlooked—the floor.

Dancers too often find themselves warming up on the concrete or carpet backstage, or wanting to practice in a location without a proper floor. For years, Harlequin Floors has offered a solution to this problem with its innovative turning board, offering a portable and personal floor that can be flipped between marley and wood. Now, they've revolutionized portability again with their practice mat, offering dancers the option to roll up their own personal floor and sling it over their shoulders like a yoga mat.

We spoke with experts from every corner of the dance industry to see how Harlequin's products have become their everyday essentials:

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