Paris Opéra Ballet's Letizia Galloni. Benoîte Fanton, Courtesy POB.

These 4 Exercises Will Teach You the Right Way to Wing

A beautifully winged foot is the perfect complement to an arabesque line. But according to Marika Molnar, president and founder of Westside Dance Physical Therapy, learning how—and when—to wing requires subtle work and an understanding of the leg's alignment.

Often, she sees dancers winging before, not after, they point their ankle, foot and toes. Instead, the wing should be the final touch. "If you follow the line of the middle of your thigh through the middle of your kneecap down through the middle of your shin, that line should come out where your second toe is," says Molnar. Then you can slightly wing your foot while maintaining that alignment.


If you feel like you're wrenching your ankle to wing, chances are you're doing too much. Molnar says the motion should be just a few degrees, or less than an inch. In these positions, she suggests imagining an invisible line that continues past the foot so you don't disrupt your shape. "It's a line of infinity."

A real danger zone is winging in weight-bearing movements, like pointework, or pressing the working ankle forward too much in tendus. Both can place undue stress on the ligaments and result in bunion growth; injuries to the first metatarsal joint, the midfoot or the deltoid ligaments of the ankle; or pain extending up into the knee.

Molnar suggests the following progression of exercises for developing a tasteful wing. Each motion should be done for 3 sets of 8–10 reps, and can be part of your regular pre-class warm-up. Rest 10–20 seconds between each position so the muscles don't become overly fatigued.

You'll need:

  • a chair or bench
  • a Thera-Band
  • a tennis ball

All photos by Rachel Papo. Modeled by Isabel Borges of Ballet Academy East.

Molnar says that, eventually, you can progress to doing numbers 1 and 2 in turnout. But it's important to learn the sensation of correct alignment in parallel so you can truly understand and isolate the winging motion.

Latest Posts


Getty Images

How Do You Like Our New Look?

Notice anything different about our site? Perhaps the bigger, splashier images and the fun new fonts?

Welcome to the new pointemagazine.com! We just got a fabulous new redesign, and we can't wait to share the results with you. Have a look around—our exclusive dance photography looks more beautiful than ever, and our stories are easier to navigate. We think you'll agree, ballet has never looked this good!

Intern at Pointe!

Are you a total bunhead who loves to write? You might be the perfect fit for Pointe. We're seeking an editorial intern who's equally passionate about ballet and journalism.

Keep reading

There’s a New Dance Podcast in Town

Hi there, dance friends. I'm the editor in chief of Dance Spirit and content director of The Dance Edit newsletter. And I'm here with a bit of news sure to excite dancers, dance enthusiasts, and other assorted dance obsessives: The Dance Edit is launching a podcast!

Join me and other editors from Dance Magazine, Dance Spirit, and Pointe for The Dance Edit Podcast, a weekly roundtable discussion of the top stories moving and shaking (not sorry) the dance world. Beginning March 5th, we'll get you up to tempo (also not sorry) in about 15 minutes every Thursday morning.

Keep reading