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En Pointe



I'll be honest: I'm not a prima ballerina. I'm terrible at balancing while en pointe. (For those of you who aren't familiar with ballet, "en pointe" means when I'm standing on the tips of my toes while in pointe shoes.) My teacher always tells me, "Put all your weight on your big toe!" And here's why:

To stay balanced en pointe, a dancer's center of gravity must be directly above the contact point with the floor. This is called static balance. The net force is zero while torque is also zero. The net force is zero when the force of gravity equals the force of the dancer pushing off the floor. (It gets painful after an hour, trust me.) The net torque is zero when the net force points through the dancer's center of gravity.

After months of pointe training. I've mastered balancing while standing still. However, I have yet to master balancing while turning. The key to good turning is making sure your rotational axis doesn't wobble. Even if you're spotting, a rotational axis is hard to see. (You can't see it!!) We've learned that in order to stand en pointe, a dancer must maintain static balance. Unfortunately, it's impossible to turn while maintaining static balance. While turning, a dancer must shift her/his center of gravity constantly, which is maintaining dynamic balance. The contact with the floor always stays focused, but the center of gravity must move in a circular pattern, much like a cone shape.

Wish me luck on mastering my turns!!


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