Health & Body

These 4 Exercises Will Teach You the Right Way to Wing

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

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.

The Conversation
Ballet Stars
American Ballet Theatre corps member José Sebastian (center) is launching the Hamptons Dance Project with a cast of fellow ABT dancers this August. Rochelle Brodin, Courtesy Hamptons Dance Project.

From coast to coast, and on the shores of Lake Michigan in-between, professional dancers and choreographers are going one step beyond putting together a summer pickup company. Some are now curating multi-evening festivals in their hometowns and beloved vacation areas, and featuring an impressive range of companies, dancers and dance styles. So get ready to plan your next trip—here are three dance fests in beautiful resort areas to keep on your radar.

Keep reading... Show less
The Royal Ballet's Vadim Muntagirov and Marianela Nuñez in La Bayadère. Photo by Bill Cooper, Courtesy ROH.

Do you ever wish you could teleport to London and casually stroll into The Royal Opera House to see some of the world's best-loved ballets? Well, we have a solution for you: The Royal Ballet's 2018-19 cinema season.

Whether live or recorded, the seven ballet programs listed below, streaming now through next October, will deliver all of the magic that The Royal Ballet has to offer straight to your local movie theater. Can you smell the popcorn already?

Keep reading... Show less
Ballet Stars
Behind-the-scenes shot of NYCB dancers on set. David Alberda, Courtesy Emily Kikta and Peter Walker.

Tonight, New York City Ballet opens its 53 annual summer season at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. But if you're away at a summer intensive or busy rehearsing at your home studio and can't make it to a performance, we have the next best thing: seven new site specific videos made by and featuring NYCB dancers.

Keep reading... Show less
Sasha De Sola and Carlo Di Lanno in The Sleeping Beauty. Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.

The first time I saw Sleeping Beauty was on video, the Kirov version with Larissa Lezhnina. The music for the first entrance gave me butter- flies. Aurora comes out, and it captured my heart. Larissa coached me for my first sea- son of Aurora, and just the fact that we were sharing the same studio—I couldn't get over it. One of the things she encouraged me to explore is after Aurora faints: You get back up, you look up at your parents and re- center yourself. For me, what feels natural is that you don't want anyone to worry. Maybe there is a moment where you get a little embarrassed. It's those small moments that make it feel very personal to me.

Keep reading... Show less