Dance Techniques and Associated Injuries Part 2


Entrechat is an elevation step in which a dancer jumps straight up in the air and crosses their feet, beating the calves against each other and changing the feet. It’s important to be lifted from the center, with the shoulders squarely over the hips. A good plié with proper turnout is also essential to ensure a solid takeoff with the feet. While in the air, the body should remain erect and the toes should be pointed.

Étendre is a basic principle of dance which means to stretch. When stretching the feet, it is important to allow them to move freely without gripping or tightening the muscles. Such action can cause the arch pain and cramping and can result in serious injury if the arches aren’t treated and rested properly.

Foutté is a whipping action movement of the working leg and upper body. Proper technique is to securely pull up out of the hips to avoid undue pressure on the legs and feet which can translate into variety of muscle and ligament injuries affecting the lower extremities. To execute the whipping action correctly, use the abdominals and stay centered, this ensures a smooth transition of the supporting leg and a safe landing on the foot.

Glissade is a gliding movement done prior to jumps requiring high elevation. Pull from the abdominals and turn out in fifth position of plié so the supporting foot can provide a strong spring for the leg and body. If the foot accommodates for incorrect bodyweight distribution and inadequate turnout, it will likely suffer injury in the process.

Jeté is a jumping step in which the weight is transferred from one foot to the other and executed with a throwing motion of the leg. As with all jumps, the dancer must be centered to ensure a good spring off from the supporting leg. The higher the elevation, the less the risk of injury upon landing, as the dancer will have sufficient time to properly point the foot in air and then place it correctly on the floor upon landing. Improper technique will almost certainly lead to an injury of the foot or ankle.

Pas de basque is a step derived from basque folk dancing done in three movements. Pull up from the hips so that bodyweight is not sitting on the heels of the feet, thus enabling the dancer to spring up easier and prevent unnecessary stress on the muscles in the feet, thus avoiding injury. Plantar fasciitis and inflammation of the mid-sole tissue, commonly referred to as arch pain, is the result of an acute injury due to poor form and execution.

Piroutté is a turn of the body on one foot. The dancer must have the weight of the body properly distributed through both feet and the knee of the supporting leg remain straight while turning. If not, the alignment of the body will be disturbed, causing the weight to shift, which will cause an injury to the foot. Tremendous stress is placed on both the digits and muscles of the foot during this movement. It’s critical to maintain form to avoid stress fractures, inflammation and injury to the toes.

Plié is a bending movement of the knees with the legs rotated outward from the hip joints. While executing a demi-plié or grand-plié, the feet must stay comfortably on the floor, without tension in the toes. The feet must never turn out to a greater degree than the knees or ankles. Further, the feet cannot roll in or out, if they do it will put additional strain on the muscles and ligaments, which may result in an injuries like fasciitis and arch pain. Rolling in or out also creates stress on the knees and could cause injury to them as well like tendon and ligament sprains and strains.

Relevé is a movement that is performed by raising the body to demi-pointe or full-pointe. The dancer must be centered over the hips and balls of the feet. It’s important to be pulled-up through both the hips and upper torso. If the dancer’s weight is not evenly distributed extra stress will be placed on the feet when attempting to rise. This creates an opportunity for injury. The turnout must be controlled from the tops of the thighs as well as the ankles. When in relevé, the ankles must not wobble during the ascent or descent, or while balancing. Wobbly ankles can endanger the metatarsal heads and cause pain in that region. Specific injuries include; sesamoiditis, bursitis, capsulitis, periostitis, and neuritis or neuralgia. Be careful during descent to ensure weight does not shift to the heels unevenly.

Salute is a jumping movement which starts and finishes in demi-plié. As with all jumps, the dancer must be pulled-up in the abdominals to relieve stress in the legs and feet and maintain weight distribution evenly. Proper turnout is essential to avoid any injury to the knees and feet while springing upward or during the landing.

Sissone is a jump from two feet to one foot. As will all jumping movements which require elevation, the dancer must be centered over both legs prior to executing this movement to ensure proper technique. Because the landing is only on one foot, if the bodyweight is not properly distributed, the extra pressure could cause injury to the supporting foot.

Tendu is a movement in which one leg slides out to an extended, pointed position and then returns to closed position. The supporting leg must remain straight and properly placed on the floor, without rolling in or out, or gripping the floor with the toes. When the dancer slides the foot outward it’s important not to raise the hip or move it out of alignment to ensure stretching and strengthening of the muscles.