Morning Routine:It's important to do at least an hour of ballet everyday to stay strong and flexible.
Do ten releves on a stair step very slow - count of 8 going up and 8 going down. As you gain strength you can add more. Both feet together go as high as you can up on demi pointe and even push the arch over your toes and then release down as far as you can go past flat foot. Do this again with a 2 count up and 2 count down, do about 20 of these.
Write the alphabet with your big toes. Manuscript or cursive. This is done while sitting on the floor with your legs out straight in front of you together (like a pike position). Do it with each foot. Having your legs out in front of you helps you to use your calves muscles and strengthens your legs while working with your ankles. You can rest your body on your arms behind you if that is comfortable. I remember doing it everywhere. When I found myself sitting anywhere waiting for anything that is a great time to even do it in a chair with your leg extended! Make it fun but at least do it once on the floor for the extra leg workout.
Using a chair to support you, do releves on both feet pushing your arch as far as you can. Again you can start with 10 and work your way to more. Do this slow and deliberate! Not to a count of 8 but a count of 2 up and count of 2 down would work if you are being deliberate about pushing those arches to the limit, control is what builds the strength in your ankles.
*Note: I wrote "push your arch over your toes", I mean it as you are trying to do that - please do not get discouraged if you do not get them over your toes. Just make sure that you have your toes out, like in first position, and push your arches over as if you are trying to go over your toes:)
At a chair for support, sautes are wonderful for strengthening your legs along with your ankles. Do as many as you can! Start off with 10 until you feel like you are getting your feet/arches right. Try not to do too much of a demi plie so that you are using your ankles more than your legs for the height. But do not worry about height as much as watch to make sure that you are using a strong pointe during the saute, pointing your toes towards the ground and keep your feet turned out.
When I was young we would do about 50 variations of sautes a week! Wonderful exercise to help gain the strength to get height. I have to admit that my favorite is the echappe saute but usually men do those in a performance not us ladies as it is not lady like:)
At a chair for support, do a demi plie in first position (2 counts).
While in demi plie, do a strong releve (which is pushing your arches over your toes- 2 counts).
While still in a strong releve, straighten your knees to stand tall on the releve (2 counts). Again keep trying to push that arch over your toes. You should feel it in your calves pushing.
Relax in first position (2 counts).
Do this ten times and then do the reverse ten times:
Reverse is the straight knee releve, remember to try to push your arches over your toes (2 counts).
While on demi pointe, do a demi plie (2 counts),
put heels down to make a flat foot demi plie(2 counts),
then relax in first (2 counts).
As you get better at the fifth exercise you can change that to only one foot but doing a little coupe with the "non-working" foot. Remember to change feet:)
Battements are wonderful if you keep your foot pointed hard. Do this en croix or in a cross - front (devant), second (a la seconde), and behind (derriere). En croix seems to be pronounced like "on qua". Make sure that you are pushing the heel forward so that you do not sickle the foot and control the leg movement to make sure that you *do not* bend your knee. I was once told to use the thigh muscle more than the hip muscle as if you were pushing your inner thigh up to the sky. Control again, do them slow if you need to get that control.
This takes about 15 minutes.
Find an open wall space with no shelves or pictures (like a hallway) and sit up against it. Lift your legs up to the wall and scoot up until your bottom touches the wall. Gently let your legs down. Gravity will pull your legs down, so just let go of the muscles and read a book.
I suggest working out of 100 Lessons in Classical Ballet, or practicing your barre routine from your class.
Spend 30 minutes on this