Not much new I am afraid

According to the site metre, less and less of you are coming to visit. That could be because a lot of you are on holiday for Christmas and New Year.

But it may be because I just keep re-posting the same old posts.

I am sorry. However, it is hard to come up with anything new to say about this subject. I have written more words on this subject than anybody else on the internet, but it is still rare when I come up with anything new.

Culture

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Some people in Britain and the USA have an interesting perspective on this subject. They feel happy taking off their shoes at the home of an Asian person whose culture demands removal of shoes, but consider it deeply rude for a British or American person to insist on visitors to her home removing their shoes.

There are two problems with this attitude. Firstly, there is a touch of cultural arrogance about it. It implies that the Asian custom of removing shoes is purely of spiritual or cultural significance with no practical value. Maybe Asian people are primarily concerned about keeping their homes clean! Behind the pretended respect for a foreign culture, there is the unspoken assumption that Western practice is superior.

Secondly, this attitude seems to take a rather static view of culture, seeing it as a set of chains that bind people to particular rules of behaviour. In fact, culture is dynamic and fluid, it changes over time.

It seems to me to be quite obvious that if a person of Asian descent can be considered British while keeping her home shoe-free, it is perfectly acceptable for a White British person to keep her home shoe-free.

It may be the norm in Britain and most of the USA for shoes to stay on in homes now, but this may change. In fact, I believe it probably will. Many White Americans and even British people are adopting the custom of shoes-off in homes.

We are living in a global village with increased immigration, travel and communication between different cultures. There is tremendous potential for different cultural practices to migrate across geographical boundaries.

Very Good

My sister and her boyfriend were staying here for a few days this Christmas. They were very good and always removed their shoes at the door. My sisters boyfriend brought some slippers and my sister borrowed some belonging to my mother.

Discovering Reverance

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The comfort aspect of shoe removal is both a strength and a weakness of the case for shoes off at the door.

It is certainly the case that most people will feel more comfortable for having removed their shoes. A 'no-shoes' home is a place of comfort.

The problem is that the western association of removing shoes with comfort and informality may make people more reluctant to accept the idea of removing shoes on more formal occasions even in the home. People may think that it is somehow inappropriate or impolite to go shoeless at a dinner party.

The problem is that in western culture, we have no concept of removing shoes as an act of reverance. The closest thing in the west would be Roman Catholics going barefoot at shrines like St. Patrick's Mount. To us in the west, it is more respectful to keep shoes on than to take them off.

In contrast, in most oriental cultures there is an assocaition of shoes-off with reverance. Muslims do not remove their shoes in Mosques to be more comfortable (though I believe they usually have lovely carpets); they remove them because the Mosque is sacred. Japanese pupils remove their outdoor footwear on arriving at school, not just in order to keep it cleaner, but because the school is a place of authority that is worthy of their esteem.

I dare say that British people will come to appreciate this association of shoes-off with reverance more and more. School pupils in this country are often taken to visit non-Christian places of worship where their shoes must be removed. Thailand has become a very popular tourist destination for British people and there they experience going barefoot in Buddhist temples. More and more they will learn to show respect and reverance to the homes of their friends by taking off their shoes.

GoreOutdoor




W.L. Gore & Associates in Flagstaff, Ariz., has put together its first shoe collection, thanks to the efforts of Theresa Holland, Susan Spinelli, Lance Beavers.

Liz Wiggins
and Wendy Moore at the Gore Outdoor Store were able to come up with nine pairs of unused trail running shoes, which will be prizes at the February One World Race in Tela, Honduras.

Medical Conditions

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If you read internet discussions about the subject of the shoes-off rule, you will find countless people who claim to have a medical condition that means they must wear shoes all the time. If these discussions were representative of the population; nearly half the people in the USA have such a medical condition. I do not believe a word of it.

Yes, there are some people who do have a genuine medical reason for not removing their shoes. We must make exceptions for them.

Some people say having a shoes-off policy causes embarassment for such people because they must reveal their condition. However, this is quite unnecessary. A person with a medical condition can simply say:



I am sorry, I can't take my shoes off. Doctor's orders.




She does not need to reveal the nature of her condition. She does not need to give any embarassing details. There is really no problem here.

Shoes-Off at Parties?

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There are some people who are strict about no-shoes in their homes who make an exception for parties. They feel that parties are an occasion when people expect to dress up and this must include shoes. I disagree with their view. I think it is perfectly reasonable to require shoes to be removed for a party.

In Canada and Scandinavia, it is common for people to attend formal parties with a special set of party shoes that are not worn outdoors. This is not really feasible in the UK. I doubt that many British folks have shoes that are never worn oudoors, unless they keep a pair of sneakers to go to the gym. And if those formal party shoes have high-heels, they are unacceptable anyway.

Some people say that part of a party is clearing up afterwards, so you should not make a fuss about mess from people's shoes. This seems a little silly to my mind. People will make more than enough mess at a party without them bringing in dirt on their shoes. There will be plenty of spilled wine and crumbs ground into the carpet without chewing gum and dog dirt from peoples' shoes as well. Also the main party season in the West is Christmas and New Year, when there will be plenty of rain and snow (maybe not snow in England, but plenty of rain). The party season is a wet season.

Some argue that people will feel silly and uncomfortable at a party without their shoes. It is true that people might find it a little odd. But they will probably feel more comfortable for having removed their shoes. If it is made clear in the invitation that shoes willl need to be removed, then it will not come as a shock. Furthermore, if there is alcohol at the party, then most people will be feeling more relaxed.

The main argument levelled against shoes-off at parties is that people dress up for parties. A lot of people, particularly women, will chose their outfits very carefully and they the choice of shoes is part of that selction. For them, a party is an occasion to show off their good taste. They would not want to combine their cocktail dresses with barefeet.

In response I would say that parties are hardly the only occasions for dressing up. Ladies can show off their fancy shoes in restaurants or at the races. Not all parties are such formal occasions. If a party is a smart-casual event, it is actually quite rude to dress up more smartly than other guests.

The host sets the theme of a party. If it is meant to be a fancy dress party, then you should make the effort to find a costume or stay home. If it is an informal party, leave the suit or cocktail dress at home. If it is a no-shoes party, leave the kitten heels at the door.

I keep making this point, but I will make it again: it is best that guests know in advance that shoe-removal is required. If you are printing fancy invitations, make it known there (with some clip-art maybe?). If people know that they will have to take their shoes off, it will not come as a shock and they can plan their outfit with this in mind. They can bring some nice slippers that complement their outfit if they want and they can avoid long trousers that only look right when worn with high heels.

There is the question of whether it is really possible to hold a formal party while people are shoeless. It may be difficult in the West to maintain an air of formality when everybody is without their shoes, but is that really such a bad thing? Is it not better to be relaxed at a party? Certainly, the host and guests can make an effort to keep the party formal. Men can look reasonably smart by combining respectable slippers with their suits and women can look pretty elegant in stocking feet. So all is not lost. If shoes-off in homes becomes more common, shoe-lessnes will probably become less associated with being casual and informal.

There are some people who will certainly be far more happy and comfortable to party without their shoes on. As I argued in a previous post, it is not simply a matter of giving these people the choice. At a shoes-on party, those who take it upon themselves to remove their shoes are likely to get their feet squashed and to have to walk on a soggy carpet. Shoes-off for all guests makes it easier for those who want to take their shoes off.

Refuseniks

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If asked to remove their shoes, most people are polite enough to comply. However, it is always possible that there may be some refuseniks.

If somebody refuses to remove her shoes, the host has several options:

1. Not let them in.

2. Let them in, but express one's unhappiness. Not invite them in again.

3. Let them in, express one's unhappiness, but invite them again hoping that next time they will comply.

4. Let them in and say nothing. Not invite them again.

5. Let them in and say nothing. Invite them again in hope that next time they will be more polite.

There is not right or wrong response. Whether you let them in and whether you invite them again entirely depends upon your wishes.

You have every right to refuse to admit somebody to your home. If a person is visiting to sell you a product or service, or to promote their religious organisation (usually Jehovah's Witnesses are polite enough to offer shoes-off) then you might well refuse to let them in. On the other hand, if your boss is visiting, it might be a bad idea to refuse to let her in!

If the visitor is not a close friend, but a person you have invited to dinner in order to make close acquaintance with, you have every right to never let them darken your door again. On the other hand, you may not want to loose a close friend over the issue. However, you might feel more comfortable expressing your unhappiness to a close friend than to a occasional visitor.

There is simply no right or wrong response to refuseniks.

Would you let somebody in your house if they refused to remove their shoes when asked?

Encourage but not insist?

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Some people say that it is fine to encourage people to remove their shoes, but one should not insist that they do so.

There is a fine line between insisting on people removing their shoes and encouraging people to take them off. There are a number of things one could say that are subtle encouragements:



We take our shoes off here.

You might like to take your shoes off.



These imply strongly that the host wants the guest to remove her shoes. I do not see that insisting or asking is worse than encouraging. If you encourage people to take their shoes off, then you have started from the assumption that people will be willing to take them off. By encouraging, you apply a degree of moral pressure to comply.

I think a lot of people would not want the uncertainty of just being encouraged. I was dating a girl a few years ago when I was not 100% sold out to the shoes-off rule. She asked me if she should remove her shoes. I told her that we removed our shoes but she did not have to. She was actually uncomfortable at this answer and asked me whether I wanted her to take them off or not.

Sometimes it is simpler just to be straight with people and ask them to remove their shoes. No need to beat around the bush.

Basic Ballet Positions - Tendu A La Seconde and A La Arriere - More French Ballet Words

Get your copy of a dancer's guide about basic ballet positions.

Your positions a la seconde and a la arriere in battement tendu are the basis for building strength and good dance technique. The accuracy of these positions will carry over to your pre-pointe strengths, your adagio, to......everything you do in a ballet class! Learning correct body placement and fine foot work in these exercises will also help prevent injury.

For a la seconde, the foot leaves fifth or first, the sole pressing into the floor, the metatarsals pressing as you extend the arch, and lastly, you lengthen the toes. Hopefully nothing else has happened in the body or to the standing leg. You aim the tendu to the spot furthest to the side, where you can still hold your turnout in both legs. For most dancers, this is not straight to the side. It doesn't matter. Holding the turnout of the supporting leg and the placement of the body facing square to the front matters. You need this stable position for developpe, turns in a la seconde, and jumps in or going through a la seconde postion (fouette saute, grand jete en tournant).

Closing the tendu, press the toes down, then relax the metatarsal joints. Press the ball of foot and sole of foot into the floor, creating resistance. Make sure the whole foot is on the floor, so you can smoothly resume weight onto it. All the way into first or fifth behind, aiming for the foot placement that allows maximum turnout of both legs form the hips, no wiggling, no hip change, unless that is impossible.

A la arriere, behind, press down into the foot, changing the weight to the supporting leg. Lead out with the toes first, lengthening down the back of the leg, pressure in the sole of the foot as the arch stretches and then the toes lengthen.

At some point, your working hip will open from a square position, but the turnout of the supporting leg should not change, and your body from the waist up should be square to the front. Also, you have to keep feeling length down through the leg. The leg must be extended all the way out, before the foot fully points, or you will force your torso to scrunch at the waist instead of staying long. It's like a tug of war to lengthen the leg, and keep the body pulled up tall. Also that feeling prevents you from shifting the weight back off the supporting foot. You should be able to lift your hand from the barre any time, and be tall on your standing leg.

Closing from the back is a gradual change from the heel leading back in, pressure on the sole of the foot, and bringing the toes forward again to where you can stand on your whole foot. Also the working hip comes square again, smoothly, as the toes drop, the arch presses down, and the weight goes on to the foot.

Massage your feet with a golf ball or small hard rubber ball. Ice if your feet ache, and massage your feet when you're sitting watching a movie, or studying. Strengthen, stretch, and then relax too.

Learn basic ballet positions from a book that defines the foot muscles, and basic ballet technique. Your tendus will strengthen faster if you add these exercises to your daily routines.

Barefeet

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In the UK and the USA a lot of people feel a sense of disgust and abjection towards feet. Of course, in many Asian countries, the foot is considered to be unclean. However, this is in connection with the fact that the foot touches the ground. Thus, shoes are considered to be far more unclean than the naked foot. In an Asian home, barefeet are acceptable, but shoes are not. This is actually the very opposite of the western abjection of the foot.

It is very common in internet discussions about shoes-off in homes for the subject of barefeet to be raised. It is argued that barefeet are disgusting, more so than the dirt on peoples' shoes. Of course, if you do feel that feet are disgusting, you can still ask visitors to remove their shoes if you lend then flip flops or socks to wear. Angie mentioned this in a previous post.

It is very likely that the sense of disgust about barefeet will decline. Sandals and flip flops have become incredibly popular in the UK and the USA. People are becoming more used to exposed feet. And ladies (and maybe some men) are spending good money on keeping them looking nice.

The argument that feet are more unhygienic than shoes is quite wrong. Unless a person has been going barefoot outdoors, they will not have been picking up the awful things that the soles of shoes pick up (though sandal-shod feet do get a bit dusty). You may think your feet are disgusting, however, you undoubtedly have more germs on your hands than on your feet. Feet are usually remarkably cleaner than the average pair of hands.

One should remember that the oils on barefeet are acidic and can cause some wear on carpets, though not as much as shoes. Thus, it is best to restrict going barefoot on carpets to spring and summer, and thus wear socks or slippers in winter.

Article on Swedish Culture

Sweden: the world's most modern country?

This article claims that the custom of removing shoes at the door became the norm in Sweden in the 1960s. The article claims:

“It is a commonly held opinion in Sweden that it is bourgeois to keep your shoes on indoors. This is probably inherited from the 1960s when the radical left wished to distance itself from middle-class habits such as indoor shoes.”


Perhaps some of the many Swedish visitors to this blog may be able to clarify this.

While I am pretty Right-wing politically and a member of the Conservative party, I cannot help feeling that removing shoes at the door (apart from in Asian countries) is not very Right-wing at all.

There is something very modernist about the informality of shoes-off that does not sit easily with a conservatism that hearkens back to past generations.

I think as I have become more entrenched in my 'no-shoes past the door' position, I have become more liberal in my attitudes. I have become very pro-immigration. I have become more positive about modern Britain and in favour of a modernising approach to Conservative politics (I think David Cameron is great).

Welcome

It is very nice to have so many Swedish people visiting here over the last couple of days.

Hospitality part 2

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Guests are aware when they visit a home that the hosts have boundaries that cannot be crossed.

Guests know or should know that they cannot go wandering about upstairs, looking in their hosts' bedrooms. They ought to be careful in conversation that they do not mention subjects that may cause offence to the host. If the host has strong views on a subject, it is best not to argue with him or her. Guests know that they cannot bring their pet dog to somebody else's home unless the host has expressly said this is acceptable. Even if the host is an animal lover, permission to bring a pet dog must be sought.

It is now recognised by most people that when you visit the home of a non-smoker, they should not smoke inside. If they need to smoke, they should put their coat on and go outside. There are still some people, probably mostly from the upper strata of British society who think it is rude to forbid smoking in one's home. However, this view is very much in a minority.

It is important to recognise these boundaries when one visits a home and if hosts prefer, even if they do not insist on it, removal of shoes, this should be complied with by guests. To ignore this boundary is, as stated in the previous post, taking hospitality for granted.

Some people would object to comparisons with smoking pointing out the health risks of smoking, compared with the minor ill effects to health of wearing shoes past the door. However, it is not so much the health risks that should deter smoking in a non-smoking home. Nobody is going to get lung cancer because a few guests smoked at a dinner party. They are unlikely to even develope a cough because of it. No, the reason one should not smoke in a non-smoking home is simply because the smells and mess are not convenient for such hosts. It is simply impolite. Likewise it is not convenient to impose the dirt and dust of your shoes in the home of a person who would object to it.

Some would argue that it is polite for guests to remove their shoes if this is what the hosts do, but it is impolite for the host to request shoes-off. They feel that it is better to leave the responsiblity of politness to guests. To my mind, this is not quite logical. If guests have the responsibility to comply with the preference of their hosts, then it is surely quite reasonable for guests to make their preference known.

Part of the reason why a verbal request for shoes-off may be necesary is because etiquette is so uncertain and in such a state fo flux on this point. While it may be a good idea to remove one's shoes when one is welcomed by a shoe-less host, as this may be a shoes-off home, such a gesture might be taken as impolite by some. There are some who go shoe-less in their home who would be surprised by guests going shoe-less. It is probably necessary for those who desire shoe-removal to make their wish known.

Hospitality

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There are some who think that asking guests to remove their shoes is contrary to the principle of hospitality.

This is a culturally relative matter. Albania and Turkey are countries in which hospitality is greatly valued and yet it is expected in those countries that guests remove their shoes.

The shoes-on people argue that a hostess should primarily be concerned with her guests comfort and not with the state of her carpet or floor. However, most guests will feel more comfortable after removing their shoes. They may, admittedly, be uncomfortable because they are embarassed about their feet or they feel their shoes are part of their outfit. Those problems can be dealt with by letting guests know in advance that shoes-off is expected and so they can either bring slippers or plan their outfits with bare or stocking feet in mind. Any embarassment should be minimal if guests are not taken by surprise.

In my opinion, those who insist that guests should be allowed to keep their shoes on take hospitality for granted.

When I get my own house or apartment, I may well invite you. I will give you the best seat. I will cook for you. I will serve you the best food I can. I will give you whatever you want to drink, whether it be alcoholic or not. I will give you my undivided attention. I will entertain you with conversation. If you live nearby, I will drive you home in my car. If not, I will let you stay the night. I will wash up the dishes and cutelry you have used and clean up any mess you make. Given that I am willing to do all this for you, do you really think it is so unreasonable that I ask you to take your shoes off?

Chicago Tribune: You're welcome- but not your shoes

Chicago Tribune: You're welcome- but not your shoes

An article on the shoes-off rule that offers a number of opinions. Veterans of this debate will have read them all before.

The Perfect Battement Tendu - French Ballet Word For Stretched

Tendu is one of the French words for ballet. It means stretched. Usually, that means you have pointed your foot in a front, side, or backward direction from a closed position. Whether in soft ballet shoes or pointe shoes, the technique is the same. Tendu prepares the muscles for releve and saute.

Whether you pick up a ballet glossary at a ballet store, or find one on line, every new student needs one. Even if you speak French, the way the words are used can be different.

Battement tendu is a movement opening the foot and leg, keeping the pointe of the toes on the floor.

Assuming that your posture is correct, "spine neutral", your turnout is from the hips, your neck and shoulders are relaxed, and your barre arm is resting lightly, not too much happens!

True, and not true.

If your are in fifth position, you begin shifting the weight to the standing leg and sliding the working heel forward, at the same time. You are pressing your heel forward, if you are going devant - to the front, or a la seconde, to the side. You can turn out your foot because you are taking the weight off that leg, so there is no strain on the knee joint.

Here's a tricky part - as you extend the leg, you keep pressing the foot into the floor. Not so as to strain the knee joint with having weight on the foot - no, but you are creating resistance. You press the foot into the floor to build strength in the foot muscles. You do not curl your toes to do this, think of the whole foot. But as you are extending the foot to the position, this happens quickly. After the metatarsal area has left the floor, be sure to stretch your toes out long, do not curl or bend them. The movement is over when the arch is fully stretched, and the toes simply come into line.

***This is the same movement you will do in pointe shoes, keeping the toes long, not bent over.***

Some techniques teach that you extend the foot so that the toes end up opposite the standing heel, in a devant position. Others teach that you cross the foot over so that the toe ends up opposite the center of the standing foot, or in line with the center of the torso. You can lose turnout crossing over like this, or, keeping the turnout, you can end up losing the hip placement, turning the body slightly croise (toward the corner of the supporting side). In the early years of training I see no reason not to stay with the extended toes in line with the supporting heel.

If nothing else has happened in the body, you have done a correct tendu devant.

To close, you relax your toe joints, pressing the toes slightly into the floor as the leg draws in, the toes pull back, the heel lowers, until the sole of the foot is pressing on the floor. Here's the little tricky area again - you pull the leg in, but you must stop pulling the toes back as you get into fifth (or first) so as not be turning the foot out too much. You have to stand on the whole foot, turned out from the hip rotators. Ballet is not anatomically correct, but you must compromise without injuring your knees, rolling your ankles, and being off balance.

At the end of the movement, your weight must be evenly on two feet, hips square, spine still neutral, neck relaxed. With the thousands of tendus you do in ballet training, there is no way you will not get strong and build good dance technique.

You Tube: Crazy Girl Getting Arrested

You Tube: Crazy Girl Getting Arrested

In some American police stations it is the practice to make persons in custody take their shoes off, just like in the UK.

In this video, a girl is arrested after a road rage incident.

Her boots are removed when she is placed in the cell. It does not look like the boots had laces; presumbably the cops were concerned about her kicking the cell door rather than self-harming.

Neat Freaks?

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It is commonly thought that people who insist on shoes-off in their homes are neat freaks who are obsessed with keeping their homes clean and tidy.

I dare say that there are some people who prefer shoes-off who are genuine neat freaks. And those who are Obsessive-Compulsive about cleanliness may well be among the shoes-off community.

Of course this is culturally relative. In Japan it is thought that money is dirty and unhygeinic because it is handled by untold numbers of people. Japanese people also regard any objects placed in bathrooms, such as books or ornaments to be 'dirty'. A person in a western society who held such attitudes would almost certainly be regarded as Obsessive-Compulsive.

I have known a number of people who really were excessive in their desire to keep their homes clean. Interestingly, these people did not require visitors to remove their shoes. I suspect that they probably spent so much time in cleaning their homes that they were happy to waste time cleaning up afer their visitors.

Many people who keep their homes shoe-free are not domestic goddesses who like nothing better than spending whole days doing spring cleaning. Rather, they are busy working people who have far better things to do. They do not want to clean up for the sake of it, but they know that living in a clean environment is healthier and far more pleasent. Knowing that time is precious they would rather keep the mess to the minimum and spend as little time as possible cleaning up after their visitors. Prevention is better than cure.

Nobody needs a house that is spotless, but it is pointless to allow dirt and dust to accumulate when it could easily be kept out by leaving shoes at the door. A floor is meant to be walked upon, but that does not mean that one should not reduce wear and tear and save time and money.

7 Additional Effective Habits To Improve Ballet Technique

Get the dancer's guide to improve ballet technique for pointe or pre-pointe.

Every exercise you do up until you get into pointe shoes, is basically pre-pointe. However, using the term to focus on the basics that will help you work well in pointe shoes, is how we currently emphasize that there IS a regimen for improving your strength build-up towards pointe work. For boys, these exercises will improve your technique too.

** Check your postural plumb line when doing your first demi plie of the class. Your postural plumb line is the line that goes straight down through your body, through the curve of your spine and your other natural shapes. Also called "neutral spine", when you are not straining to straighten the spine, nor are you slacking in your ab muscles, and curving excessively at the at back of the waist,

** Check your turnout. Turn out as much as you can from your rotator muscles in the back of your pelvis. Your feet should be turned out as much as your thighs are, but not more to the degree that they pronate (rolling the front of the ankles toward the floor), or tense excessively, under the arches and toes. Ballet is not anatomically correct. The fact that you will ultimately have to produce a "heel to toe" fifth position (as viewed from the audience, if you get my drift), does not mean you should be doing that in early training.

** Move your head easily from side to side. Check that your neck is relaxed, and your shoulders move easily with your breathing. You should not press your shoulders down to compensate for a non-neutral spine, feet not completely contacting the floor, or anything else indicating that you are off balance. You should not have to press your shoulders down to hide the fact that they are constantly pulling up from effort. If this happens, you need to work on your abdominal and back "core" muscles, and your turnout and thigh muscles, so your shoulders can stop working. You may need to be in a more basic class.

** During your plie exercise, note that your arm can move without the shoulders following. In other words, the shoulder joint is free, and your shoulders and arms are not working to hold your balance in any way.

** More important than many would think, is the focus of your eyes. When you look ahead, look at something and be aware of what you are looking at. When you incline your head, look at something.Your attention to the environment is necessary. A class or a stage can be a busy place! You must be able to focus and see what is around you even when you are concentrating on your own movement. You also must seem, to an audience, that you are focusing outward, to them, even in moments when you are not, and even when you cannot see them.

** Check that you are holding the barre lightly. Place your hand on the barre and use a slight pressure down when you feel your balance shifting. Gripping constantly tells you one thing - you cannot do what you are trying to do! You need to cut back to an easier version of the exercise and practise. You may need to increase your ab and back exercises. Ask your teacher for help. Teachers don't see everything in class, no matter how hard they may try.

** If you are altering ANYTHING at the depth of your grande plie, or during the first inch coming up out of it, you need to find what is weak. As soon as your heels come off the floor, start watching and feeling. Have a friend help too. If it just a matter of strength at the bottom of the plie, do shallower grande plies for a few classes. Tell your teacher you are trying to improve this way, and that you are deepening your plie little by little, so as not to lose posture or turnout, whichever it is.

If you are among boys in ballet and you've noticed the girls talking excitedly about new pre-pointe regimens, pay attention! All those exercises and assessments for pointe work are perfect for men in ballet too. The strength and finesse of foot work is just as necessary for you. Your jumps, your landings, controlling your descent from multiple turns, will have that cat-like quality if you develop your feet as you would for pointe work.

Housewarming Party

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If you are moving into a new house or apartment and you want to make a clean start and have a no-shoes rule, you have an ideal opportunity to kick it off with an housewarming party.

The best thing to do is to indicate clearly on invitations that you will be requiring shoes-off. That way people will have no surpises. They can bring slippers, wear clean socks with no holes or a floaty skirt that looks great with barefeet (Trinny and Susanah actually recommend that hostesses of dinner parties should wear a long skirt with barefeet or slippers).

Having an housewarming party is such an excellent way to send the message that your new house will be a shoe-free zone. Even those of your friends who do not come will see on the invitation that you want shoes-off.

Requiring shoes-off at a housewarming party sends the message that you are really serious about the rule and that it is not just an exception for a wet winter evening. After all, some people with shoeless homes actually make an exception and allow shoes-on in parties. However, having shoes-off at an housewarming makes it clear that you want the house to stay as it was when you bought it.

In Pointe Shoes - Preventing Injury at Performance Time

Get a wonderful dancer's guide by Lisa Howell, dance medicine specialist, who wrote the following about dancing in pointe shoes. I heartily agree with every point. All the best for your performance season!

"Warm Up! While you may only be 'marking' steps, always make sure
you do a full warm up before class, and this is NOT just sitting in
side splits! Aim to get all of your muscles warm and the heart
pumping a bit!

Make Sure You Stay Warm! Lots of injuries happen in rehearsals,
as we are moving around, then sit and rest for a bit, and then
suddenly get up and move again! Make sure that you wrap up warm if
you are going to be not dancing for more than 5 - 10 minutes.

Keep Hydrated. We sweat a lot more than we realize in dancing, so
make sure that you keep sipping water at regular intervals. Room
temperature water is better than ice cold, and while it is good to
keep your electrolytes up, sports drinks tend to have a little too
much sugar in them. Dilute them if you simply must have them.

Keep Your Energy Levels High. Make sure that you have good "Slow
Release" carbohydrate snacks to keep your energy going through long
rehearsals. This is not chocolate! A little every now and then is
okay, but not as your main source of energy!

Get Lots Of Sleep! Healing happens when we sleep, so give your
body the best chance by getting to bed early.

Ice Your Feet! Especially when doing a lot of pointe work, your
feet are sustaining micro injuries every day. Put them in a bucket
of ice water for 15 minutes after stopping dancing for the day
(make sure your feet are flat on the bottom) to help settle any
little bits of inflammation. This is horrible in the beginning but
you get used to it, and it really does make a huge difference! Then
pop them up a wall or on the end of the couch to further reduce any
inflammation in the joints.

Keep Up With Your Exercises! While lots of dancers struggle with
having the time, it is REALLY important that you keep up with any
strengthening exercises while you are in performance mode. Make the
time."

Build the best foot muscles for dancingin pointe shoes
with professional guidance, and prevent dance injuries.

Dancing In Pointe Shoes - Not More Homework!

This is homework about dancing in pointe shoes you are going to love. Why? How do I know that?

Because I know that young dancers are serious, and usually quite organized. And they beam with satisfaction when they can do something that was extremely difficult a week ago.

In the book about the perfect pointe preparations, the organization is handed to you. Charts, progress notes, are all there for you to use.


Learning new information is quite thrilling when you may have been wondering "why don't my feet arch over as easily as hers"? Or "how can I get my foot into a pointe shoe when my toes are such different lengths?"

Thinking that you are simply stuck with the feet you were born with is quite discouraging. Every student is eager to know if her foot can be more flexible, to make pointe work easier, or if she is truly ever going to be able to control her hyper-mobile foot joints and progress without injury.

Having the tools you need to do more homework, safely, and more homework that you love and get results from, is being empowered to progress.

I think it takes a lot of the mystique out of the undefined "talent" idea.

When I first studied dance, I thought that talent meant you had the long legs, high arches, long neck, etc., etc., and I thought that because those dancers got all the attention in class. And yet, as a child, I thought that those girls didn't need the teacher's help much - she showed something and they just did it. And it looked right. So why weren't the less physically able helped more? That was logical. I had so many questions, but didn't expect that the teachers would want to illuminate my curious mind. I always felt I could do more. And I did more and more homework - getting up early to stretch, getting to school early to practise. I made some progress, but I could have used my time much better with guidance.

Talent is a mixture of abilities and charisma. And soul.

I never knew anything about foot bones, their shapes, and their potential to work better - or not.

I and my fellow dancers often suffered from shin splints, agonizing. We had no idea how to release the tibial muscles and work our feet muscles more. Yet we had fantastic world class teachers. But, then, "dance is suffering". No one ever said that, but the teachers acted like it.

Even the most physically able can get into trouble. I remember watching a rehearsal of a fellow student who later became a world class ballerina. She had highly domed arches and was rehearsing in pointe shoes that were mushy. I watched her bending way over her shoes, and sickling out too. I think back on that and wonder "why didn't anyone stop her?" She could have done one rehearsal on demi pointe, or been allowed to get different shoes. But protocol was rarely broken. At the risk of injury.....right before a show.....how tradition and the concept of discipline blinds us sometimes.

Luckily the present is much different. Education is available, those with the passion to do more homework and build strength and a good dance technique independent of class schedules, can do so! Safely, methodically and with results.

Get the finer details aboutdancing in pointe shoes.

Building Strength, Your Age Profile and Dancing in Pointe Shoes

Regardless of your age profile, you can now get the information on how to build strength and good classical technique toward dancing in pointe shoes.

Ballet shoes naturally lead to pointe shoes, and although there is no guarantee that you will do pointe work, repetition builds strength, and correct instruction creates good dance technique. Precision and detail are required to achieve this. Education prevents injury. A whole new world opens to dance students with the correct information!

When I was professionally training and needed pointe shoes, I could choose only between Gamba and Freed. Freeds were agonizing for my not so flexible and not quite strong enough feet, and Gambas were much easier to break in for me. Unfortunately, no one told us how to initially break in a shoe so as to enhance our work.

I was in a class with some younger girls and they were a year ahead of me in training. I was told that pointe work hurts, and not to complain. I was told that a little Lamb's Wool was ok to put in the shoes, but that the dancer should be able to do pointe without it, and not to complain.

No one had help in fitting the shoes, or breaking them in. I went through pointe classes seeing black spots from the pain, straining my neck and shoulders, getting the usual bloody blisters. It did not seem to occur to my teacher that maybe something was amiss with me and a few others who had these problems.

Students shared different tips and tricks with each other, to make things easier. Wrapping Kleenex around our toes was one. Another amusing one was that at The National Ballet School, the ancient washroom (long gone at this point) had funny little squares of toilet paper that were waxy, as opposed to absorbent. They were perfect for pointe shoes! Two layers meant that they would slide against each other, unlike tissue which could bunch up. The waxy paper also slid against the tights, preventing blisters. Later we used plastic wrap too, for the slippery effect.

By year two of training I had developed better techniques of avoiding the extreme pain. What a waste of a year, also the negative perception of my abilities by my teachers. I was truly struggling unnecessarily and could have done much better.

We all wore shoes that were too small. We had no guidance in strengthening the intrinsic foot muscles. I think I was already teaching when I heard another teacher describe the "dragging the towel" exercise to a student, for strengthening under the foot. That student had a problem with muscle cramps. Which we all did in my first year.

I was extremely lucky in another aspect however. Our pre-pointe training was excellent in that our posture, placement, turnout, rises, releves and retire positions were as perfect as our physiques could allow. We had teachers' assistants in large classes so everyone was corrected, constantly.

However, the anatomical knowledge that is available now, was unknown. The details that could have allowed some of us to flourish, weren't known.

You can get ALL of this wealth of information and with instructional photos and video that will help you know how to start working your pre-pointe exercises, and assess your own progress, for dancing in pointe shoes!

Children

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I am always a little surprised when I see children wearing shoes at home, whether on television or in person. It surprises me because when I was a child, my parents expected me to remove my shoes at the door. When I visited my friends' homes, their parents often expected me to take my shoes off. So it always seems a little strange when I see children keeping their shoes on at home.

The practise of removing shoes was expected until I reached the age of about 12. My parents became less stringent about it as I got older. Occasionally this house rule would be revived in later years. It was restored when I was 21 when my parents and I moved to a house with cream carpets, though they were not consistent in keeping to it.

There are some homes, in the UK, where the hosts will expect the children of guests to remove their shoes, but would not expect it of adult guests. Some guests will insist that their children remove their shoes without removing their own. I can understand why some people may be more concerned about children's shoes; children do tend to be less careful about what they step in and are more likely to run around in long and wet grass. However, adults should never forget that their own shoes pick up an awful lot of less noticeable dirt. There is also the fact that children learn to follow rules better when adults act consistently. There is a certain amount of 'do as I say, not do as I do' in the requirement of shoes-off for children only.

Some childcare experts are of the opinion that children should wear shoes to the minimum necessary and therefore recommend shoes-off indoors for health reasons.

Smelly Feet

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The issue of 'smelly feet' is often raised as an argument against the Shoes-Off rule.

In Western society there seems to be a lot of paranoia about the phenomena of 'smelly feet'. I think this is simply a result of people not removing their shoes very often. Your feet will actually smell a lot less if you remove your shoes regularly. It is unfortunate that we in Britain have not yet reached the civilised heights of Finland, where it is acceptable to remove shoes in business meetings and on trains (not that people do not do so in Britain, but it is frowned upon somewhat).

Nevertheless, I think most people worry too much about this issue. People imagine their feet smell far more than they actually do. I have met very few people who let off much of an aroma after removing their shoes, and most of them were people who did not wash and change their socks regularly.

If people know in advance that they need to remove their shoes, they can make sure they wear clean socks, or even better, bring slippers with them. If they are especially worried about it, they can use some of those fancy foot deoderents.

Feet wil smell a lot less if people wear sandals. Sneakers are best avoided in favour of leather shoes.

Some people will say 'I would rather put up with a dirty floor than people's smelly feet.' Well, I guess people decide on their own priorities. However, stinking feet will leave with the guests. A dirty floor will not. Nor will the dust they brought in on their shoes, and that is very bad for your health.

The Lodger

Our lodger moved in last night.

I told her how fussy I am about shoes being removed and she is fine about that.

As it happens, our lodger has a lodger living in her own house in Manchester and she asks her to remover her shoes.

The Colour of Carpets

My mother complained about the dark green carpet in her apartment. She wishes she had a light coloured carpet.

A lot of people say it is foolish to have beige or cream carpets, as they are so vulnerable to floor traffic and stains.

However, dark carpets can also look filthy too. You see, a lot of the dirt that falls to the floor, particularly food crumbs is light in colour. These light coloured crumbs or bits of paper stand out horribly on a dark carpet.

That is why so many people do opt for beautiful cream or off white carpets in place of the supposedly practical dark carpets that make houses look like cheap hotels.

Of course, light-cloured carpets are especially vulnerable to marks from shoes. So if you have a light-cloured carpet you should definitely impose a no-shoes rule in your house.

Adding Turns in Ballet Shoes and Pointe Shoes

Building strength and good dance technique has to happen long before you get to multiple turns. Once there, increasing your turns is not too difficult. The feeling of spin is controlled through good spotting, musicality, and the same old practise, practise and practise!

One aspect of fast spinning is spotting. You must have a relaxed neck and quick and accurate head movement. Such as, no inclining the head. Inclining happens when you leave the head too long. For more neck flexibility, ice it for 15 minutes after hot showers, and tilt the head sideways for gentle stretches. Do not roll the head around in circles; the neck joints are not designed to do that.

You can work up to more turns by adding half a turn at a time. Do four and a half, which means changing your spot to the back after three and a half turns. That will just kind of bring you around to the back, to catch up to your head. And voila you have done another half a turn. Don't strain, and come down into a soft, controlled stretchy demi plie. Repeat this until it is easy, then add another half, and another half. Little by little as needed, so that you are not compensating for any postural loss, or losing control over your ending position.

I had a teacher once who set pirouette exercises like that, starting with two and a quarter turns. It meant changing your spot to the next wall, and coming around to it. Really easy, not too much difference. You'd do a double, then 2 and a quarter, 2 and a half, 2 and three quarters, then three. Or start with a triple, and do three and a quarter, etc. In pointe shoes, it takes not much more than a thought to add a quarter turn.

Another teacher I had used to say "during your preparation, imagine you are spiralling your spine in the opposite direction to where you are going to turn. Like your inner muscles are twisting to the left, though your shoulders stay square to the front; the prep position doesn't change outwardly. Then when you go up onto releve and turn, you release that twist and it makes you spin. That's a mental trick, and it really works for some people.

Assuming your technique is good, and your postural plumb line is correct, just keep on adding quarter or half turns, and let each addition get easy and natural.

Athlete's Foot

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An unpleasent fungal infection.

A lot of people mention Athlete's Foot as an argument against people having a shoes-off policy. However, this is a quite unnecessary concern.

Athlete's Foot is generally associated with swimming pools and changing rooms. It is possible to catch Athlete's Foot on one's barefeet at a swimming pool or in a locker room. However, recent research indicates that this is not so likely as was previously thought.

Most importantly, the reason people catch Athlete's Foot in those places is not because people there are barefoot, but because the fungus needs a warm and wet environment. People get exposed to the fungus in the damp conditions. If they fail to dry their feet, the fungus is very comfortable and even more so if the victim puts on sweaty socks.

The fungus will not survive long on the clean, dry floor or carpet of a person's home and so you are very unlikely to catch Athlete's Foot in somebody's house, even if the owner has the condition.

What is more, people who are not wearing socks are likely to put on sandals when they leave, as opposed to closed shoes. Thus, they will not create the right environment for the condition to thrive.

Of course, if you are worried about it, you can always bring some slippers or socks when you visit a shoes-off home.

People who have a shoes-off policy ought to let their visitors know in advance and be willing to lend a pair of clean socks, if not slippers.

If you complain about having to take your shoes off at the airport, I think you are really silly

People complain and complain about having to take their shoes off at airport security.

So what? Is it really that bad? I bet a lot of these people who complain take their shoes off when they do yoga or visit a beach.

There are terrorists out there who will do whatever they can to blow us up. They will exploit any weakness in security. If they can hide explosives in their shoes, they will do that.

Please don't make a fuss.

Mirror: Warders wear slippers.. to avoid waking psycho killers

Mirror: Warders wear slippers.. to avoid waking psycho killers

A rather sensational headline- I can assure you, I dont read the Mirror.

Apparently prison officers are wearing slippers while on night shift at Wakefield prison, so as not to wake up their charges.

Apparently it also has the advantage of enabling prison officers to listen to conversations in cells without being heard.

Should One Provide Slippers for Guests?

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In some Eastern European and Asian countries, guests change from their shoes into slippers provided by the host.

Some argue that if you intend to have a shoes-off policy in your home, you should keep some slippers for guests to wear. This will make them feel more comfortable and prevent embarassments such as foot odour and holes in socks.

This is a fairly good idea, but I am not so sure. If slippers are provided, then they must either be disposable plastic slippers or else slippers that can go in the washing machine. It would be quite unreasonable to expect guests to wear slippers that have been worn by somebody else that day. I am not sure whether most slippers are machine washable. Some guests might not even trust you that they really have been cleaned and may prefer to stay in bare or stocking feet.

I think the practise of providing guest slippers might be just a bit too weird for British. Many British people will have been to a house where shoes-off was required, but not many people will have been offered guest slippers to wear, unless it was in another country. I think a lot of English guests would prefer to go shoe-less, rather than wear slippers that are not their own.

I think it is a good idea to buy slippers for family and regular visitors and keep them at your house. These should be worn only by the person they are provided for. Hopefully, one's family and close friends would be delighted by this consideration.

Providing clean socks is a different matter. I would suggest keeping a supply of clean socks in different sizes by the door for guests who are not comfortable going barefoot.

I think it is very sensible to let visitors know in advance that one has a shoes-off rule in one's home. That way, they can be sure to wear socks without holes or bring their own slippers if they prefer.

Dancing In Pointe Shoes - Building Strength For Strong Pirouettes

Get a detailed dancer's guide on dancing in pointe shoes, The Perfect Pointe Book. It will help you perfect the following issues.

With some students, all their pirouettes get thrown off balance. And with others, it is just one side that doesn't work as well. 2 things to observe are:


* one side back/hip/leg muscles are weaker than the other side, when it is the supporting side

* therefore you are also weaker in your demi plie just before the turn and rise
slightly off balance and don't have the exact strength needed to recover just
by gripping your position.

Here are some more things to examine:

When you are standing in fifth position, check to see where you
compensate. Anyone who does not have 180 degree turnout from the hips, compensates.
To have the front leg looking turned out, the hips are usually a bit less than
square. With muscles gripping to maintain the look of a square position, there will
be extra tension in the muscles of your weaker side that may never be properly released. Therefore those muscles will be weaker.

Improperly gripped muscles are not stronger, but weaker. The muscle tone has to be maintained with proper stretching and relaxation.

So after you have checked your fifth position, slowly demi plie and see if anything
changes - for example, weight shifting onto one foot more than the other; turnout
changing on the leg that you anticipate becoming the supporting leg; sole of the
foot tension changing in either foot; any visible tilt in the shoulders or hip levels.

Then rise up into your pirouette position in super slow motion. Have a friend watch
you. See exactly what other adjustments, if any, occur.

Sometimes it takes a few times to notice what is adjusting, that is going to throw
off your balance.

Also take note that once something has adjusted to correct a weakness, your neck
may not be as relaxed for spotting as it should be on your weaker side. This will add to your being throwing off.

Once you've figured out what is going wrong, you need to practise the super-slow-motion
demi plie and rise onto the pirouette position, repeatedly, to establish new muscular
habits. If it is a hip level problem, do your pirouettes with a lower retire for
a while, until you get that placement retrained. Presumably you are doing the usual turns in class, and you would see a gradual improvement if you do these suggested exercises.

Exercises for pre-pointe, to strengthen the feet/ankles/ legs etc., for pointe work, will bring to light any weaknesses that need to be addressed for anything more advanced. These will cover all the rises, positions, and balance needed for pirouettes as well. The basic necessity of turnout , back and other torso muscle strength that is referred to in prepointe exercises, is the same necessity that your overall development requires to be fulfilled.

Understanding the mechanics of good dance technique prevents injury and places your development more into your own hands.

The Perfect Pointe Book gives extensive training info, anatomy info, and self-assessment and home practice regimens to build strength for dancing in pointe shoes.

Ballet Toe Shoes - Building Strength for Good Dance Technique

Get a detailed dancer's guide about when a dancer can get into ballet toe shoes (pointe shoes). How should your ballet teacher decide?

The best strategy to start doing strengthening exercises for the feet before starting pointe classes.

One or two classes a week will not prepare the feet, or whole body for pointe work. Three classes a week for at least a year will enhance the preparation, but even then, to achieve the optimum strength for pointe work, there are exercises a student can do every day.

The dancers I talk to seem very motivated to get into a pointe class, so I am assuming that adding an exercise regimen to their already busy day would not be a problem.

Lisa Howell, author of The Perfect Pointe Book, explains many fine points of anatomy, especially of the foot structure and muscles. She covers turnout, hip placement, and more.

Students wonder "do I have the right arches for pointe?" ...."do I have the right toes, the right ankles, enough turnout?"...."why does my teacher say I'm not ready?"

I've always advocated holding a student back, if there is the slightest reservation in my mind about putting her on pointe. A child can improve ballet technique in any area, so why risk an injury or deviated growth pattern?

Concentration and awareness is extremely important in ballet class. It is recreational for many children, but there comes a time when dedication is required to ensure safety.

This dedication has to show up before pointe work begins.

Developing good technique in ballet, means pushing your physique to the max without sacrificing
safety. Preserving the integrity of the joints and muscles may mean a restraint of advancement. Fellow students who are a little older, more physically developed and stronger, may go into pointe class sooner than others who are not.

I've had students who are "born pros". When I've had to hold them back in some way, I explain exactly why and they really get it. They are willing to build strength for good dance technique, knowing that they will catch up once the strength has been established.

This attitude reflects a positive outlook and a visionary one. Children are more than capable of this. Whether or not they have a great talent, some have an instinct for the more productive approach to their progress. They are ready to suffer (and they do!) a short term disappointment.

It's truly difficult for a teacher to work out a long range plan for every individual student, to get them to build strength for future pointe work.

If a student can find a prepared series of assessments and exercises, and can assess her own progress, the ones who want to advance in this way, will.

The good news is, you can go and get what you need for your own strategy to get intoballet toe shoes!

7 Highly Effective Tips for Fouettes To Improve Ballet Technique

Get a highly detailed home study manual to improve ballet technique, which will make all this easier.

Traveling, in a series of pirouettes,ballet fouettes, or turns a la seconde, is a problem of strength holding the postural plumb line. If the movement is not perfectly vertical, the turns will travel and flounder.

Here are 7 highly effective tips to examine your technique for fouettes and turns a la seconde:

** Standing sideways to a mirror, do a few press ups in first position. Do you have a postural plumb line? If your core muscles, your turnout, your ankles and soles of the foot are steady, also check to see that these movements are done with no strain in the shoulders and neck.

** With fingertips on the barre, do slow motion press ups and down in retire, or a la seconde. If you can do this without strain in the neck and shoulders, great. If there is strain, you need to build up strength in your core, and possibly overall. If a postural deviation from your plumb line shows up here, check for technical accuracy.

** What specific technical accuracy? The basics, always. Is your turnout strong, or have you compensated by shoving your supporting heel forward when you plie, changing your center of balance? Are you dropping your weight back in the bottom of the demi plie? A shorter demi plie is not a bad thing. What counts is being in good posture in your demi plie so that you can press with your heel/foot, into the floor, and use gravity to push up, without having to make another compensation to rise into a straight position. It's a lot more work to keep all these compensations/counter-compensations going.

** Spend several weeks if necessary, to address the above issues, until you can do rises and releves with correct posture and placement. Learn some Pilates core work, and stretch and relax all your muscles, before, during and after class.

** To check your spotting, walk on the spot, turning as far as you can toward a quarter turn, leaving your head to the front. I don't specifiy exactly how far you should turn, because this depends on the extent your head will turn without inclining. Memorize this feeling and this head position. This is just to feel the looseness of your neck muscles in leaving your head behind.

** Repeat this exercise in retire or a la seconde. Use a partner, to hold the hand of your supporting side as you turn away from the front. Again, this is to check the neck (and shoulders) relaxation as you releve, and to check your postural plumb line in the position of your turn, and your demi plie. (We haven't dealt with fouette yet).

** For fouettes, use a partner in the center, to do your demi plie with the leg extended devant, and then do a slow motion press up with the ronde de jambe and into retire, turning a little. This is to again check the postural plumb line, correct demi plie, and ease of the neck in leaving the head behind.

This whole process may take place over a whole year. You will be doing your pirouettes, fouettes and turns a la seconde all the time. But as you gain strength, and learn to see and feel those tiny compensations you have been doing, you will build excellent work habits for these spectacular feats.

Ballet is much harder to do incorrectly. If your early training wasn't the best, you can back-peddle like this to improve ballet technique in your advanced levels.

For any overworked muscles use an ice pack at least twice a day. A homeopathic cream called Traumeel is wonderful for soft tissue repair. Apply after icing.

So save yourself time and over-exertion with a dancer's guide to improve ballet technique.

Evening Telegraph: Reporter spends a day in the cells

Evening Telegraph: Reporter spends a day in the cells

A journalist gets a tour of a Peterborough police station.

Note that she is required to leave her shoes outside the cell.

A lot of British people may not worry much about their carpets, but if you are ever invited to a British police station, you are expected to be a polite guest!

Degrees of Firmness part 2

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I think for friends I would go for the very direct no.6 (Could you take your shoes off, please?) and for people I did not know, I would use the more restrained no.4 (Are you alright with taking your shoes off?).

It may be that you are just too shy to use the more direct requests. However, you might find that the softest approach no.1 works a lot of the time. If you are barefoot and there are a lot of shoes by the door, you may get the right reaction just by saying:


You can take your shoes off here, if you like.

Degrees of Firmness

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1. You can take your shoes off here.

2. We take our shoes off here.

3. We do like visitors to take their shoes off.

4. Are you alright with taking your shoes off?

5. You don't mind taking your shoes off, do you?

6. Could you take your shoes off, please?

7. Take your shoes off, please.

8. Shoes off.

9. Shoes off now!

Choice

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Some people are of the opinion that it is very important that guests have the choice of whether to keep their shoes on or not.

However, it is not as simple as that. Some choices may impose on the choices of others.

Some visitors may want to take their shoes off, but may fear that doing so will be considered rude. Being informed that shoes-off is encouraged will be a great welcome for these people.

The shoes-on folks might then argue, "Yes, but you can still let people keep their shoes on without imposing on the people who prefer to go shoeless."

However, this is not the case. Firstly, those people who want to take their shoes off may fear, if there are lots of other guests, particularly at a party, that their feet may get squashed by other peoples' shoes. In a crowded party, it can be hard to avoid having people tread on your toes.

Secondly, people who take their shoes off will prefer to walk on a floor that is cleaner. In fact, there is another issue here, as Angie pointed out in a previous post. Some guests will enjoy sitting on the floor. And sitting on the floor is a much more pleasent experience when it is clean. So allowing guests the choice of wearing shoes imposes on those who like to sit on the floor.

The simple truth is that no host can please everybody. However, there are far more good reasons to insist on shoes coming off at the door than for allowing shoes to stay on. Let guests chose between slippers, socks ot barefeet. That is choice enough.

It is not Selfish to ask Visitors to Remove their Shoes

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Some people claim it is selfish to ask visitors to remove their shoes. They think that it shows excessive concern for one's carpet or flooring.

On the contrary it is not selfish at all.

Firstly, there is an health issue involved. Peoples' shoes pick up dust and animal excrement which is not good for one's health and especially bad for the health of one's children. If one has babies or small children that play on the floor it is extremely sensible to keep one's home shoe-free.

There are many worries today about the health risks posed by pollution, toxins and chemicals. Personally, I think many of these health scares are exagerrated. Many of the supposed health risks have not been scientifically verified. However, it is best to keep as much nasty stuff out of the house as possible.

Secondly, the notion of selfishness here is relative. In a country where shoe-removing is the norm, like Finland or Russia, it would hardly be selfish to insist on shoes-off.

In Britain or the USA, where keeping shoes on is the norm, there are many people who would like to insitute a shoes-off policy, but who are afraid of causing offence or being deemed 'selfish.' If a person is brave enough to insist on shoes-off, she makes it easier for those other people who feel that they would like to make their homes shoe-free. In time, the norms of the UK and the USA may change and shoe-removing may become as normal as it is in Thailand or Sweden.

The Best Ballet Wear in Ballet Shoes and Pointe Shoes

The tradition of traditional, sleek ballet attire is the best ballet wear seen in professional dance studios. It has a purpose.

Traditional ballet teachers can seem fussy about the dress code in their studios. There is a reason for this.

When a teacher is looking over a class in motion, visual clutter needs to be at a minimum. Black leotards, white T shirts and pink or black tights are a good uniform landscape for the teacher.

The black of the leotard emphasizes the line of the posture, the upper back and neck suppleness/tension, the hip/leg break and alignment correctness, and makes it easiest to respond to what is seen with ongoing and detailed corrections.

For instance, it is easy to see, even across a large studio, if the back of the thigh is not pulled up as needed, if the dancer is wearing pink tights. It is also easy to see bulky tension in thigh muscles that should be more elongated.

Distractions such as multi-colored clothing, and sloppy leg warmers prevent the teacher from being at their top efficiency,

The artistry of ballet depends on the ultra-perfectionist and over-idealized form being sought, and then being surrendered to an allowing energy flow, that releases expression and drama.

I wish I could say that better, but all I'm really talking about is that the norm for strict ballet wear that any ballet store provides, ultimately supports the best results,as it allows the teacher to see what's going on in a large dance class full of diverse talent.

Get the best ballet wear and look like a pro in dance class.

Stewardship

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I believe there is an issue of stewardship here.

All that we have is a gift from God. We may enjoy our posessions, but we do need to give account to the Lord of how we have used them.

Carpet cleaning services are necessary to keep homes really clean, but they are very expensive. Replacing carpets costs even more. Having a shoes-off policy considerably reduces the need for maintaining carpets and other kinds of flooring. Therefore, as stewards of God's gifts, I would suggest that Christians ought to strongly consider the benefits of having a shoes-off policy in their homes.

Clean homes can also be more effectively used in the service of the Kingdom. Homes can be put to so many uses; entertaining visiting speakers, providing shelter for those who need it, hosting fellowship meetings (I think a good case can be made for holding all church meetings in homes) and Church lunches. Keeping homes shoe-free means that larger numbers of people can be accomdated at the home with minimal impact. It also makes the floor a safer place for small children and babies.

Recipricocity

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You may not have a baby at crawling age
But if you ask visitors to your home to remove their shoes, you send a message that it is acceptable to keep your home shoe-free. That makes life easier for those who do have crawling babies.

You may not have a new carpet
You may have an old carpet that needs replacing or a wooden
floor that is covered in scratch marks. But if you have a shoes-off policy, it will make it easier for those who do have a new carpet to do the same.

You may not live in an area where there is pesticide on the ground
But if you have a no-shoes rule in your house, it will make those who do need to require shoes-off feel more comfortable about it.

U.S. X-Country Team in Mombassa, Kenya


Kenya 2007, originally uploaded by One World Running.

I hope you both are doing well. Here are some of the pictures I took of the children in Africa that I brought shoes to from One World Running. Kenya was an awesome experience, and this was probably the best part of the trip. Thanks for getting me involved Mike. Well, enjoy these pictures, and I will send the video shortly in another email. Have a great afternoon!

Best regards,
Renee

PS. Here is the information for the school. The school's name is St. Peter's The Rock Junior School with Integrated Programme (mentally handicapped). It's total population is 76 children, and 35 of them are mentally handicapped. This is very rare in Africa.

Some Serious Theology- Are you a Tramplian or an Offalist?

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You may be sick of the Calvinist/ Arminian debate, so let me introduce you to some new theological terms; Tramplian and Offalist.

Tramplians like to trample the carpets or flooring of their homes with their shoes on. They find it rather objectionable to be asked to remove their shoes when visiting somebody else's home.

The central principle in Tramplian theology is the freedom of the will. They believe that they should be the ones to decide whether they take their shoes off at a dinner party. Their attitude is "I decided what outfit to wear. I decided what shoes to wear. I should be able to keep them on if I like". They do not believe that a hostess should impose shoelessness on them.

Tramplians have a strong belief in the goodness of hosts. They consider that a hostess should be above all concerned for her guests wishes and convenience above keeping her home clean. They believe that if a hostess likes them enougth to invite them into her home, she will accept them with their shoes on.

Tramplians believe in the power of their own ability to keep their shoes clean. They consider themselves to be grown-up and to be careful about what they tread on. They do acknowledge that their shoes can be tainted by the corruption of dirty streets, however they hold that this can easily be dealt with by wiping their feet on their hostess' doormat. Their shoes can be restored to cleanliness by the exercise of their will.

Offalists in contrast, always remove their shoes at the door. Offalists believe in the Total Depravity of the soles of their shoes. The corruption of city streets has completely ruined the condition of their shoes, they argue, and the only hope is a change of nature for their feet, namely into slippers or clean socks. The Offalist pays heed to warnings about the health risks of pesticide, lead paint and animal excrement.

The Offalist upholds the sovereignty of the host. The hostess has been very generous in inviting her guests, however, she is sovereign over her own home and has the authority to set the rules. She will not allow anything corrupt to defile her home. Those who would enter her home must not come in their own shoes, but must meet her condition of a change into slippers or stocking feet.

The Offalist holds that the root problem of the Tramplian's theology is human pride. The Tramplian is proud of her ability to make decisions about her outfit. She is proud of her Manolos, her Prada heels or her Jimmy Choo boots. She is too proud to combine her outfit with stocking feet. She resents the idea that her hostess would not accept her in her own shoes.

The Offalist argues that if the Tramplian would only forsake her pride, she would actually find that she was far more comfortable in slippers, socks or bare feet. Her determination to remain in her stilettos will in the end hurt her feet and drag her to destruction. She may well remain outside the dinner party in the outer darkness.

Octoberfest


Octoberfest is held in my city off and on. I do not recall it being held this year, but when I was in colledge it was held often. I went once and tried a lot of the darker ales. It was a big party for all the college kids. It actually was started long ago, back in 1810, when a royal wedding of King Ludwig I and Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen took place on Theresienwiese ("Theresa's fields"). As time passed by, Oktoberfest lost its original meaning, but preserved and even more acquired the spirit of overall joy and happiness. I wonder how it lost it's original meaning.

I wonder what it would be like to attend it in Germany. At times there are over 7 million people in attendence. I have never been to Germany but it too is a place I want to see some day. I have a good friend who was in the military and was stationed there for a few years. He loved Germany. I wonder if the hotels in germany are very expensive. With so many internet deals out there, I bet there are some very economical prices out there. I know there are some at Cheaper Than Hotels. They have a full range of accomodations from hostels to 5 star hotels at great prices.

They are able to do that because they have established a working network with various hotels and hotel chains around the world. Thus they are able to provide accomodations at very competitive prices. There are even special deals to be had, like last minute deals and some of the hotels in berlin even have free extras like internet access, faxing services and a gym. These free extras can be found at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Berlikn City Centre. It is located in the heart of the city just minutes away from the zoo and Kurf├╝rstendamm boulevard. It is within 20 minutes of all the airports so, it makes it a convenient place to stay. Check out those prices. They are very reasonable.

You will find the same sorts of discounts at the hotels in munich. I noticed that today there is a special for only EUR 75. There are even some places that are on sale all year. Travel to Europe does not mean that you have to give up your life savings just to go. CheaperThanHotels.co.uk makes sure that is not the case. Their great deals make it possible for them to operate in 130 countries worldwide and they have even assisted over 100 million travelers with their accomodations.



What I do is kick them in the pants with a diamond buckled shoe!
~~Aileen Mehle~~

My Newest Acquisitions!


This past weekend I found a great sale at The Shoe Department. Designer shoes were on sale for as low as $6.95. I had some control. I only got one pair of white leather pumps that will be great for next spring and summer. They are by Bellini. Bellini shoes and footwear is one of New Zealand's foremost fashion brands. Created from the European catwalks and adapted to the New Zealand lifestyle, Bellini shoes are manufactured in imported Italian leathers, offering affordable, quality shoes for every occasion. Their range includes the basic classics though to more directional fashion styles. Low, medium to high heels ensure all tastes are catered for. I could only find them in red but mine are white. They were only $12.00. Wonderful smooth leather shoes! I can;t wait till next year to wear them.

What I do is kick them in the pants with a diamond buckled shoe!
~~Aileen Mehle~~

37 Reasons for Having a Shoes-Off Policy in Your Home

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37 Reasons for having a shoes-off policy in your home:

1. Carpets are not easy to clean.
2. Carpets absorb dust and become breeding grounds for dust mites, causing the development of asthma and allergies.
3. If you do not have a carpet, the dust will not be absorbed and you are likely to breathe it in.
4. Shoes can leave marks on wood, PVC and marble floors.
5. Shoes can scratch wood flooring, especially if they have high heels.
6. Boots and high heeled shoes can cause wear and tear to carpets.
7. That goes for rugs as well.
8. Shoes pick up small particles of grit that cause wear and tear to carpets.
9. Shoes pick up traces of petrol fumes and industrial pollution.
10. Shoes can pick up pesticides, fertilizers and other chemicals.
11. Shoes pick up traces of animal excrement.
12. Ever noticed how much chewing gum there is stuck to the streets?
13. In a square mile, there are more insects than people on the planet. How many do you think you have squashed on your shoes?
14. If you have a crawling baby, do you want him or her to be exposed to the dirt from people's shoes?
15. In rain or snow, you are less likely to get the floor wet.
16. If you live near a beach, you will bring less sand into the house.
17. If you have a crawling baby, you will do less damage if you accidently step on him or her.
18. If you get mad and kick the cat or dog, you will do less damage (apologies to animal lovers).
19. If your children play rough, they will do less damage.
20. It creates a less formal atmosphere.
21. It creates a greater sense of relaxation.
22. Your guests will become more like you by removing their shoes and will feel part of the family.
23. An oriental, Scandinavian or East European visitor will feel more at home.
24. It teaches children the importance of respecting and looking after things.
25. Psychologically, removing your shoes helps you to enter a frame of mind where you keep your everyday troubles outside your home.
26. It is more comfortable.
27. It is healthier for you feet to take your shoes off during the day.
28. Small children with growing feet should wear shoes only to the minimum.
29. If you wear high-heeled shoes, your feet badly need a break.
30. You can put your feet up on the sofa without taking your shoes off first (Dont tell me you put your feet on the sofa with shoes on?).
31. You can put your feet up on the coffee table without taking your shoes off first.
32. If you ever visit Japan, it will seem less weird.
33. If you are ever arrested and they confiscate your shoes, along with your belt and jewellery, it will seem less weird.
34. Your feet smell less if you do not wear them all day.
35. When you lovingly chastise your children, you will have a slipper to hand.
36. It was a Biblical custom (come on, did they wash their feet with shoes on?)
37. Do you really think the Saints in Glory are going to trample the sparkling, clean New Jerusalem with shoes on?

Prevent Common Ballet Injuries In Ballet Shoes and Pointe Shoes

A physio therapist talks about how to prevent common ballet injuries:

"Often ballet teachers find the specifics of training the foot strength needed for pointe work difficult as it came naturally to them. However for many people, the isolated strength needed in the feet must be specifically trained, especially nowadays, as many children who grow up in cities spend little time bare foot on different surfaces, which naturally trains the tiny intrinsic muscles of the feet. Understanding how these muscles should work when dancing is imperative in a long, injury free, career in dance." - Lisa Howell

In addition to intrinsic muscle weakness, the foot and ankle can suffer other injuries. Floors built on concrete are a source of injury, even for dancers who are taught to "come down through the foot". This technique helps, but does not fully compensate for hard flooring.

Any repetitive motion can lead to injury.

Some ankles and achilles tendons will build up soft tissue mass or calcified masses from pointe shoe ribbons being tied tight.

Some ankles won't like the repetitive releves and jumps required by dancing and will build up some type of tissue resistance at the front of the ankles. This extra tissue will cause disruption to the movements, or pain, or both.

ANY incorrect technique such as rolling ankles, turning out the foot more than the leg (a requirement in ballet), too short pointe shoes, too narrow pointe shoes, insecure demi-plies,(heels not on the floor, leading to sliding heels too far forward, usually, resulting in tense ankles, tibial muscles [ shin splints]), - and you go up the body from there, straining knees, hips, low back, raising shoulders, straining neck, clenching jaw, locking cranial bones, headaches - need I say more?

However, the human body can repair its tissues, especially with the help of good nutrition. Whole food supplements for collagen, ligaments, and muscle can be added to the diet. After a fracture, raw veal bone meal and correct calcium supplements can speed healing greatly.

An excellent topical ointment called Traumeel can help soft tissues heal.

Icing and diet can decrease inflammation. No one is "stuck with" an injury. All athletes have the internet to refer to, to add to what their own doctors, chiropractors and physiotherapists tell them about healing injuries.

With the correct strength and development of the foot muscles, you can prevent common ballet injuries.

Horrifying

In church this morning, a little girl kept putting her feet on the seat. Her shoes were on and they looked filthy. The carpet near her seat had gotten muddy and the seat became covered in bits of mud.

I thought it was a quite shocking sight. I found it so horrifying I could barely concentrate on the sermon.

The little girl was not sitting with her mother, but with a young single woman. If people have a child sit with them, they should take the responsiblity of making sure the child behaves herself; and I cannot see putting muddy shoes on seats as acceptable behaviour.

Culture

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Some people in Britain and the USA have an interesting perspective on this subject. They feel happy taking off their shoes at the home of an Asian person whose culture demands removal of shoes, but consider it deeply rude for a British or American person to insist on visitors to her home removing their shoes.

There are two problems with this attitude. Firstly, there is a touch of cultural arrogance about it. It implies that the Asian custom of removing shoes is purely of spiritual or cultural significance with no practical value. Maybe Asian people are primarily concerned about keeping their homes clean! Behind the pretended respect for a foreign culture, there is the unspoken assumption that Western practice is superior.

Secondly, this attitude seems to take a rather static view of culture, seeing it as a set of chains that bind people to particular rules of behaviour. In fact, culture is dynamic and fluid, it changes over time.

It seems to me to be quite obvious that if a person of Asian descent can be considered British while keeping her home shoe-free, it is perfectly acceptable for a White British person to keep her home shoe-free.

It may be the norm in Britain and most of the USA for shoes to stay on in homes now, but this may change. In fact, I believe it probably will. Many White Americans and even British people are adopting the custom of shoes-off in homes.

We are living in a global village with increased immigration, travel and communication between different cultures. There is tremendous potential for different cultural practices to migrate across geographical boundaries.

Wearing Ballet Pointe Shoes At The Barre

Wearing ballet pointe shoes for barre work is a good habit for intermediate and advanced students. Hopefully you already have the definite manual for dancing in ballet pointe shoes, The Perfect Pointe Book.

The sole of the foot, and ankle, have to work so much more with every tendu, degage, and rise onto demi-pointe. The shoe resists, and the muscles get a better workout.

If the thickness of the sole makes your foot wobble because it does not lie flat on the floor, here's a balance exercise you can do: standing on one foot at a time, close your eyes, and concentrate on finding your balance. You will strengthen your ankles this way.

Pointe shoes are beautiful when new, but get beaten up looking easily. When I was training, there was little concern about how long they would look new. Scuffs and worn satin were the rewarding sign of hard work.

If you have a performance coming up, it's different. Wear socks over them as needed, but cut a hole at the toe and heel, so that you won't slide. Try to have as many pairs as you need broken in, to the same degree, before your shows.

When your feet are totally sore and aching, use an ice pack! It is wonderful for pain and can be done several times an evening. (5- 10 min. per hour max). But, not touching bare skin.

Also, lying on the floor with your legs resting straight up the wall for a few minutes is good to help your muscles relax.

Work hard, and relax and stretch your muscles to keep the best tone. Use a pinkie ball under the soles of your feet to work out the muscle tension.

Get a dancer's guide and learn all about working your feet correctly in ballet pointe shoes.