Pointing the Toe and Dragging the Toe in Hoopdance

April 27, 2015 Caroleeena DancehoopdanceHoopingUncategorized

toe to knee

Our focus this week is Toes! Pointing our toes, connecting with the ground at the point of the toe, dragging the toe while traveling in lines and circles and dragging the toe up the leg so it stays connected to the body at the ankle, knee or thigh.

When the toe is pointed the leg looks longer. It creates nice lines. A pointed toe connected to earth makes a beautiful big triangle with lots of negative space. A pointed toe connected to the leg creates a beautiful smaller triangle with less negative space but it is three lines connected so there is not a dangling line, as when a foot dangles. (The t-rex arm of the footwork world.)

Pointing the toe is not only pretty, it is utilitarian. It helps carry the leg up during lifts, it helps straighten the knee so the leg is straight, it provides a point of balance during turns and travel, it also allows for balance when resting against the leg. It’s beautiful but it also helps a lot in dance.


Step One: Building the Point

Toe Sit Ups! This is an exercise that is very good for your feet and really helps with both learning to point the toes and developing the muscles to get a really good point. It’s fast and easy. You can do it while watching television, working at your desk, riding in a car, or while you’re in bed. Simply doing this exercise every once in a while will make you more likely to point your toes when you dance. Doing it regularly with give you a more dramatic point and it will also keep your feet supple and flexible:

tenduDisplaying the Point

The toe can connect with the ground from:
– the bottom pad
– the edge next to the toenail so that the heel points back
– the top of the foot (on the toe nail)
– on the very tip like ballerinas do when they dance en pointe
(You can also connect with your balancing leg on the bottom pad of the big toe, which is especially helpful for coming up into pirouettes and for balancing.)

Step Two: Understanding Tendu

Tendu is a ballet term that literally means “stretched”. It is where you start with both feet together on the ground and gradually extend the working leg to the front, side, or back until only the toe touches the earth.

There are two kinds of tendu we use a lot in hooping:
– Tendu à terre (stretched on the earth): This is the tendu described above where the toe stays in contact with the earth
– Tendu en l’air (stretched in air): This is where the foot continues stretching until it leaves the earth and hangs in the air, lifted by the pointing of the toe. This is also often called Degage, which literally means “disengaging”.
– Rond de Jambe (leg circle): This is a half-circle made by the pointed foot moving to the front, to the side, to the back and then back together like you are drawing the letter D with your toe. This can also be reversed so you go to the back, to the side, to the front and then back together. The first makes an outside circle, the second makes an inside circle.

Step Three: Practicing Tendu

Stand balanced in both feet with a turnout the feels natural to you. Make sure the knees are over the feet. Feel the balance in both feet, feeling all four corners of the right foot, all four corners of the left foot and all four corners of the box they make together. Shift your weight onto one foot, shrinking your balancing box to all four corners of that single foot, and slowly stretch your working foot forward, then back, to the side, then back, to the back, then back. Shift your balance and repeat on the other side.

Next practice this same drill while holding the hoop in a pose. Then try hooping on the hand above you, in front of you, beside you, behind you, and/or on the body.

Finally, practice doing the Rond de Jambe, with and without the hoop.Slowly stretch your working foot forward, then to the side, then to the back, then back to your balancing leg so the toes draw a “D”. Do this in both directions.

Here is a quick tutorial for how ballerinas do tendu. It will help you with your balance but don’t get all caught up in turn-out, etc. Stand how you feel comfortable and make sure your knees are over your feet.


Here is a quick tutorial for the Rond de Jambe (which can also be done “en l’air” but that is not what we’re working with right now. I just want you to know that it is possible for the future.


Step Four: Adding a Hoop Move to Tendu and Ronde de Jambe!

This is a tutorial for a concept Tiana Zoumer teaches that she calls “The Fishie”. I like it because starting at 1:07 she teaches how to do it while dragging the toe in tendu or rond de jambe! It’s a great way to start to get these concepts. Notice that the stretch does not start in the toe but in the heel. Notice also that the momentum for the turn starts in the body. The balance is placed in the balancing leg and the movement comes from leaning forward from the head, chest, shoulder, or hips.


Merilei Mandelin, who is in our Putting the Dance in Hoopdance group, shared this wonderful video of her coaching a hoopdance student on these very concepts. I find it very enlightening, even without words.



In Jazz Dance there is a step called the Drag Step, which is basically a toe drag similar to a Rond de Jambe but it concentrates on the straight line of the “D”, dragging the toe from front to back. Instead of moving the leg from the hip in a semi-circle, the dancer goes up tall on the balancing leg so the dragging toe can sweep through close to the body in a line. This tutorial is actually a piece of combo footwork because you drag the foot half way forward, then pick it up to complete the step but you don’t have to! In belly dance, jazz, modern and many other dances, it is common to not lift the toe from the floor at all:


In just :30 seconds this guy gives some great advice about the Jazz Walk


Jazz Walks – The first two walks in this series demonstrating a variety of Jazz Walks are wonderful ways to travel while dragging the toe and they show it traveling over a distance, which is helpful. Honestly, I love ALL these ways of traveling. I am grateful to the students who shared this practice.


This is a tutorial of some turns I love, appropriately named “Some Pretty Turns I Love” that includes some ideas for traveling and turning while dragging the toe and hooping. (I had just started learning about it and experimenting. I could make a better one now):


Finally, this is Olga Kurawga, and I find just watching the way she uses her feet very enlightening and inspiring. She is a contemporary dancer:

I encourage you to take advantage of every opportunity to practice pointing your toes while sitting, standing, and walking. Do a series of tendu practices while cooking your eggs or making your coffee. Figure out a way to make it part of a routine you already have. (I do one pretty toe point every time I open the refrigerator door. Art!) That will help it become second nature while hooping! Have fun!

pointed toesrond de jambetendutoes

One response to “Pointing the Toe and Dragging the Toe in Hoopdance”

  • This is an amazing resource for hoopers and dancers. It’s great to follow along with too I love the liquid moving fishie! I’ve been practising all evening. For some reason you take for granted that you incorporate your feet where for me anyway in truth I don’t utilise them enough! Thank you for this!

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