“She has bad feet.”
“If only she had better feet.”
“She’ll never be a professional because of her feet.”
Okay, i’m calling crap on this whole “beautiful feet vs bad feet”– Arches VS biscuits (as my old teacher used to say).
I have “bad” feet. No real arch and can barely get on my box. The absolute worst thing about my bad feet is how long I took to get over them.
When I started at my university’s conservatory, I was insanely self-conscience. All I could think about was my feet, standing next to beautiful ballerinas who practiced pointe since their single digit days. I wanted to show everyone that I too, could achieve beautiful feet. So I ended up:
- Shoving my feet under the couch
- Working with a homemade foot stretcher
- Over-stretching my muscles
- Damaging my achilles tendon by forcing pointe when I wasn’t ready
- Focusing on nothing else but feet, feet, feet
I became a robot. In all my technique classes all I could think about was stretching my feet which made me less able to express myself, explore new movement and focus on individuality. I considered quitting dance for nothing more than my “bad feet.”
I will never tell a student that they have bad feet.
What if there was no such thing as good feet and bad feet? What if all feet were beautiful and respected equally?
Once we get past the competition dance world, do feet matter as much? If you’re expressive and fierce, a true joy to watch- will the audience care about your imperfect feet? Will they notice your line wasn’t perfect? Do they see?
I say we focus more on what makes dance amazing to watch: Passion combined with athleticism, happiness mashed with pain and fear blended with the human story.
We teachers should abolish the term bad feet and good feet. Let our students know that one body isn’t better than another body. Teach them to pointe–to stretch their ankles and elongate their lines, but more importantly: teach them that no single thing can ruin their dreams of becoming a dancer.
Our story of dance should be more than our feet.