Franklin Method Foot Warm-Up: Part 2

by Jan Dunn, MS

We recently posted an article showing you the first part of a terrific foot warm-up, from the Franklin Method, using small balls—and if you’ve been trying it, you may have learned that it warms up more than just the feet!

I promised you the 2nd half, for both feet, and here it is. I suggest you read this full article first, as opposed to following along as I describe it. This is very much a balance / core stability challenge, and I want to give you some cues along the way. So read first / do afterwards, incorporating the cues…

First do right foot / left foot individually, as shown in Part 1. Then –

Up And Over

Put both balls together, a couple inches apart. Brace your heels on the ground, and put your forefoot on the balls, with knees straight. You’ll notice a nice Achilles stretch as you take that position.

FM feet 2 - starting position

Starting position

Roll up and over the balls, so that your toes are now braced on the floor, with your heels on the balls. Keep your knees straight as you do this.

Frankln Method foot warm up

Position after rolling

Practice rolling back and forth, with knees still straight, from toes to heels, keeping your body centered and aligned. Your feet are basically going from plantar flexion (pointing) to dorsi-flexion (ankle flexion), in anatomical terms.

Tips and cues:

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Introducing Our Dance Wellness Panel

Jan Dunn

Jan Dunn

Aloha to all!

This is a very special post regarding the Dance Wellness segment of 4dancers.org:

In the fall of 2011, Catherine Tully (whom I had never met) contacted me and asked me if I would like to write an article about Dance Medicine and Science – aka Dance Wellness – for her online site, just to introduce readers to that aspect of information in the dance world. I was pleased to do so, and so in January of 2012, we posted that first article. Your response, as readers, was so overwhelmingly positive that Catherine asked me to start a new on-going segment of 4dancers, entitled “Dance Wellness”.  I did, and the rest is history. Over the last 3+ years we have posted, 36 articles, written not only by myself but by guest contributors whom I have brought in.

Your eagerness to learn more about this important field has prompted us to take the next step, to continue “spreading the word” online about the many aspects of Dance Wellness, and how all of this information can help dancers to “dance longer, dance stronger”.  We are so pleased to announce the 4dancers.org Dance Wellness Panel–a distinguished group of people from the Dance Medicine and Science field, who have agreed to join us in this new endeavor.   

Below you will find each of our panel members, along with information about their backgrounds, associations and areas of specialty. We are thrilled to have them on board, and we look forward to sharing more dance wellness information with you in the coming months!

My best to everyone-

Jan Dunn, MS
Dance Wellness Editor – 4dancers.org



James Garrick, MD

James Garrick, MD., is an orthopedic surgeon and the founder and Medical Director of the Center for Sports Medicine, at St. Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco, California. When founded 35 years ago, the Center had the first Dance Medicine department on the West Coast, and had one of only two West Coast Pilates facilities. For forty years he has been one of the leading figures in the dance medicine field, with particular research interests in the epidemiology of dance and sports injuries. His research includes a cost analysis of dancers’ workman’s comp injuries, insurance coverage of independent dance companies in San Francisco Bay area, and injury patterns in young dancers.

Dr. Garrick was physician for San Francisco Ballet Company, founded the clinic for dancers at San Francisco School for the Arts, and is currently on  the physician panel for the San Francisco Ballet School. He also founded the Sports Medicine Division at the University of Washington, and is a founding and former board member of the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine. He is a clinical professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, and serves on the editorial board of several journals. He has authored / co-authored five books, including Ski Conditioning (1978), Peak Condition (1986), and Sports Injuries – Diagnosis and Management (1990), as well as numerous articles for medical journals and book chapters.

Dr. Garrick is a member of American College of Sport Medicine, American Orthopedic Surgeons, American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, Performing Arts Medicine Association (PAMA), and International Association for Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS).

Gigi Berardi, PhD

Gigi Berardi, PhD

Gigi Berardi, PhD has an academic background and performing experience that allow her to combine her interests in the natural and social sciences with her passion for dance, as both critic and writer. Over 300 articles and reviews by Dr. Berardi have appeared in broadcast and print media, including Dance Magazine, Dance International, the Los Angeles Times, the Anchorage Daily News, The Olympian, The Bellingham Herald, LA Style, IDEA Today, LA Reader, LA Weekly, and scientific journals such as Journal of Dance Medicine & Science, Kinesiology and Medicine for Dance, Dance Research Journal, Your Patient and Fitness, and Impulse: The International Journal of Dance Science, Education, and Medicine. She has written as a national advocacy columnist for the Dance Critics Association Newsletter and has served on performing arts panels for the Alaska State Council on the Arts. She currently serves as a contributing editor and writer for and a correspondent for Dance Magazine. She is a founding co-editor of Kinesiology and Medicine for Dance and currently serves as Book Review Editor for Journal of Dance Medicine & Science. Her public radio features (for KSKA, Anchorage) have been recognized by the Society of Professional Journalists. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Dance Critics Association, and is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors.

A professor at Western Washington University, she received the university’s Diversity Achievement Award in 2004. Finding Balance: Fitness and Training for a Lifetime in Dance is her fifth book. The completely revised edition appeared in 2005, a seminar on the earlier edition was noted in The New Yorker; both editions had second printings. Her technical training, residencies, and seminars are listed in her resume. In winter, 2000, she was a Fairhaven College Distinguished Teaching Colleague for dance.

Robin Kish, Dance Wellness

Robin Kish, MS, MFA

Robin Kish, MS, MFA, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Dance at Chapman University. Robin blends her background in dance and science to creative innovative educational programs supporting the development of safe and effective dance training programs.

She has presented research and developed education lectures for the Performing Arts Medicine Association (PAMA) and the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS). In 2013 she developed the first online dance kinesiology class for the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO). As a product of the private studio / competition environment she is passionate about bringing dancer wellness and safe teaching practices to the industry.

Moira McCormack

Moira McCormack, MS

Moira McCormack, MS, is Head of Physiotherapy at The Royal Ballet Company in London, UK.

After a professional dance career in classical ballet she trained as a dance teacher and then as a Physical Therapist and has worked with dancers for the last 20 years. She teaches anatomy, dance technique and injury prevention internationally, with a main interest in the management of the hypermobile dancer.

Janice Plastino, Dance Wellness

Janice G. Plastino, PhD

Janice G. Plastino, PhD is Emerita Professor from the University of California Irvine (USA) in the Department of Dance. Her book with James Penrod, The Dancer Prepares: Modern Dance for Beginners has been in continual print with revisions since 1970. She has published extensively with papers, journal articles, and several book chapters. She has danced professionally on television, stage, and in dance companies for national and international venues.

Dr. Plastino’s choreography of over 50 works includes 15 years as co-director of Penrod Plastino Movement Theatre, directing opera at Lincoln Center, New York, and creating works at NBC and the BBC television. She is regarded as the founder of the field of Dance Science, and established the first dancer screening / wellness program in an educational setting at UCI in 1982. She introduced the Pilates Method in the UCI Dept. Of Dance in 1983, the first such program in higher education.

She was instrumental in the formation of the National Dance Education Association (NDEO), and a leader during the organization’s early years. She has been a member of Performing Arts Medicine Association (PAMA) since 1989, served on the BOD for four years, and in 2013 was awarded the Dawson Service Award. In 2015, she became the first recipient of the International Association for Dance Medicine’s (IADMS) Dance Educator Award.

Dr. Plastino has reported her findings in dance science to scientific societies and medical associations throughout the United States and abroad. She was an invited guest of the USSR government in 1988 (before détente), observing the Bolshoi and Kirov ballet companies while consulting and lecturing about dance injuries. The Olympic Committee invited her to lecture on dance injuries at the 1984 Olympic Scientific Congress held in Eugene, Oregon and in Seoul, South Korea in 1988. Her pioneering and continuing work in the pre-participation screening of dancers has been lauded by the medical, research and dance communities. Many of her students have established wellness programs at their colleges, universities, private studios, and private practices.

Dr. Plastino is currently adapting her movement theories for use in for the private dance studio. She is most passionate about the private studios having easy access to new research in training methods of the young dancer. Currently she consults on dancer wellness, evaluation of public and private dance programs, gives dancer wellness workshops, and continues to present papers at conferences.

Emma Redding

Emma Redding, PhD

Emma Redding, PhD is Head of Dance Science at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.

Emma originally trained as a dancer and performed with the company Tranz Danz, Hungary and for Rosalind Newman, Hong Kong. She teaches contemporary dance technique at Trinity Laban and lectures in physiology alongside her management and research work. She has been Principal Investigator for several large-scale research projects including a 3-year government funded study into dance talent identification and development as well as studies into the physical and mental demands of music playing and the role of mental imagery within creative practice.

She has published her work in academic journals and is a member of the Board of Directors and a Past President of the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS). She is also founding Partner of the UK National Institute for Dance Medicine and Science (NIDMS).

Erin Sanchez

Erin Sanchez, MS

Erin Sanchez, MS is the Healthier Dancer Programme Manager (job share) at Dance UK in London, administrates the Rudolf Nureyev Foundation’s Medical Website for healthcare professionals and dancers and manages the Dance Psychology Network.

Erin pursued vocational dance training with American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet School and the Alvin Ailey School. She also holds a BA (Hons) in Dance and Sociology from the University of New Mexico and an MSc in Dance Science from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London.

Erin is a registered provider for Safe in Dance International, a member of the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science and holds the qualification in Safe and Effective Dance Practice. She has lectured in dance science and taught dance technique in the United States, UK, Egypt and Malta.

Selina Shah, MD, FACP

Selina Shah, MD, FACP

Selina Shah, MD, FACP is a board certified sports medicine and internal medicine physician and the Director of Dance Medicine at the Center for Sports Medicine in San Francisco, CA and Walnut Creek, CA. She has lectured nationally and internationally on various dance medicine topics and has published papers in medical journals and books including her original research on dance injuries in contemporary professional dancers. She is the dance company physician for the San Francisco Ballet School, Liss Fain Dance Company and Diablo Ballet. She is a physician for Berkeley Repertory Theater, Mill’s College, St. Mary’s College, and Northgate High School. She takes care of the performers for Cirque du Soleil and various Broadway productions when they come to the San Francisco Bay Area. She has taken care of several Broadway performers (i.e. American Idiot, South Pacific, Lion King, Book of Mormon, MoTown, and Billy Elliot). She is a team physician for USA Synchronized Swimming, USA Weightlifting, USA Figure Skating and travels with the athletes internationally and nationally. She is also a member of the USA Gymnastics Referral Network. As a former professional Bollywood and salsa dancer, Dr. Shah is passionate about caring for dancers. She continues taking ballet classes weekly and also enjoys running, yoga, Pilates, weightlifting, and plyometric exercise.

Nany Wozny

Nancy Wozny

Nancy Wozny is editor in chief of Arts + Culture Texas, reviews editor at Dance Source Houston and a contributor to Pointe Magazine, Dance Teacher and Dance Magazine, where she is also a contributing editor. She has taught and written about Feldenkrais and somatics in dance for two decades.


Dance Wellness Contributor Matt Wyon

Matt Wyon, PhD


Matthew Wyon, PhD, is a Professor in Dance Science at the University of Wolverhampton, UK and a Visiting Professor at the ArtEZ, Institute of the Arts, The Netherlands.

At Wolverhampton he is the course leader for the MSc in Dance Science and Director of Studies for a number of dance science and medicine doctoral candidates. He is a founding partner of the National Institute of Dance Medicine and Science, UK.

Prof. Wyon is Vice President of the International Association for Dance Medicine & Science and a past chair of the Research Committee. He has worked with numerous dancers and companies within the UK and Europe as an applied physiologist and strength and conditioning coach.


PS DANCE! Documentary

by Rachel Hellwig

“Dance is only taught in a fraction of schools nationally. But here in New York City, a growing number of schools are offering dance as a distinct course of study,” says Paula Zahn, host of PS DANCE!, a new film that explores and celebrates dance education in New York City public schools.

At P.S. 89 Liberty School in Manhattan, dance teacher Catherine Gallant guides her elementary students through an exercise set to Saint-Saens’ music “Aquarium”. They improvise aquatic life forms in swimming, swishing, watery gestures as she calls out ideas to inspire them. Gallant says that “all children have a large appetite for movement”. She also employs dance to help students remember history. When her class studies Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, they use motion to imitate the experiences of escaping slaves–running through fields, crossing bridges, and hiding behind trees.

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Dancer Profile: Maria Kochetkova

Maria Kochetkova in Cinderella. Photograph by Erik Tomasson

Maria Kochetkova in Cinderella. Photograph by Erik Tomasson

“Trust yourself, you can do so much more than you think you can.” –Maria Kochetkova

Maria Kochetkova did not want to be a dancer. She wanted to be a gymnast. But her parents encouraged her to try ballet, arguing that dancers had longer career prospects than gymnasts. Kochetkova hated the idea at first, but came to appreciate dance and proved talented enough to be accepted into the Bolshoi Ballet’s school. Still, she found ballet hard and training at the school intense and often intimidating. She also came to learn that her height of five feet would limit professional opportunities in her home country.

Against the wishes of her teachers, she entered the Prix de Lausanne competition at age 18. The plan paid off–she won an apprenticeship to the Royal Ballet. She took it, as the Bolshoi did not offer her a job. But life in London wasn’t easy. She felt restrained in the company and her contract was not renewed. She left to join the English National Ballet where she rose to the rank of soloist. Eventually, though, she felt restrained there as well and desired to explore a more contemporary and diverse repertoire. She had her eye on San Francisco Ballet and sent them an audition tape. She did not hear back. In the meantime, she serendipitously crossed paths with choreographer Christopher Wheeldon who happened to be searching for a short female dancer for San Francisco Ballet. He was impressed by her work and recommended her to the artistic director, Helgi Tomasson. She was soon offered the position of principal. She has been with the company ever since.

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French Twist Tutorial

by Cara Marie Gary

The dismissal bell rang to signal an end to a long school day. Students crammed materials into a large book bag and bustled about the halls. It was an inevitable race to leave the building in order to avoid the long traffic line in the parking lot. My ballet studio was an hour away and I didn’t have a second to spare. I took off in my swift sprint and was one of the first students to drive out of the lot. I took off my lanyard and placed it on the rearview mirror while I grabbed a hair elastic off the stick shift. One might think a cup holder held a refreshing beverage, but mine held dozens of tiny hairpins. At the first stop light, my foot pressed against the brake as I quickly maneuvered my hair into a ponytail. A flash of green light meant it was time to keep driving. Twist and pin as fast as you can was my method for my completing my bun. This definitely wasn’t the safest driving method, but it was efficient at cutting out a few minutes so I could do my splits before ballet class started.

Experimenting with different hairstyles has always been an interest of mine. I love being able to change a look completely by simply adjusting where a few strands of hair lay. It’s amazing how hot rollers, straighteners, curling irons, gels, and hairspray can transform one’s hairstyle.

A common image associated with ballerinas is a high, slicked-back bun. However, there are so many options for dancer’s hairstyles (a French braid into a low bun, center part messy bun, cinnamon roll bun, side twist into a bun, etc.). One of my favorite dancer hairstyles is a French twist.

I believe this is a unique and elegant hairstyle. I’ve developed a 10-step process to perfecting a French twist:

1) Start by brushing your hair and parting the front to the side of your preference. (I like a left part.)

Photo Credit: Mahallia Ward

2) Using both hands, collect all of the hair into the center of your head. The hair should be gathered in line with the top of your ears. Avoid going too far towards the nape of your neck or top of your head.

Photo Credit: Mahallia Ward

3) The next hairbrush I use is called my “smoothie” brush. It’s produced by Conair and has nylon tuft bristles. This brush is the best at smoothing down bumps and wisps. Keep holding the hair in your left hand while brushing your hair towards the center gathering with your right hand.

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Dancer Profile: Isabella Boylston

Isabella Boylston. Photograph by Rosalie O'Connor. Used with Permission from American Ballet Theatre and Rosalie O'Connor.

Isabella Boylston. Photograph by Rosalie O’Connor. Used with Permission from American Ballet Theatre and Rosalie O’Connor.

“That’s the goal: To really have your expression manifest itself in your movement” –Isabella Boylston

Isabella Boylston began dancing at three and fell in love with ballet at eleven. At that age, her lessons featured live piano music and the opportunity to improvise with silk scarves at the end of class– both out-of-the-ordinary experiences for most ballet classes. Boylston went on to train at Colorado Ballet and the Harid Conservatory in Florida. In 2001, she won the gold medal at the Youth America Grand Prix.

At age 17, she attended the American Ballet Theatre’s summer intensive and was asked to join ABT’s studio company. However, her parents wanted her to complete her education first. Boylston said, “We got into a big fight because I wanted to come to New York and they wanted me to finish high school. Eventually we compromised and I got to come halfway through my senior year and I finished high school through correspondence.”

She found the transition from school to company a little jarring a first. In the studio company, she had to learn choreography much faster than she did in school. When she moved up to ABT’s main company, her struggle was to fit into the corps rather than stand out as an individual dancer. But, she rose to the occasion and was promoted to soloist in 2011 and principal dancer in 2014.

Boylston has danced many famous roles from the classical repertoire including Odette/Odile, but her favorite character is Giselle. She explains, “I really relate to Giselle. She’s impulsive and I feel like she’s more like my younger self than me now. I’ve experienced betrayal and it can be quite devastating, but it didn’t kill me. I think in the first act she’s really really lively and vital, experiencing life to the maximum. She opens herself up completely and that makes it all the more tragic when everything comes crashing down.” Boylston believes in ballet’s power to convey complex emotions and its relevancy. She says, “Ballet is such a unique art form. You can say things through dance that you could never express in words, and ballet has the ability to touch people on a deep, abstract level. In some ways, ballet is more valuable now than ever.”

Fun Facts:

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A Franklin Method Foot Warm-Up For Dancers

by Jan Dunn, MS

Aloha to All!

In this article, the first of a two-parter, I’d like to share a foot warm-up that comes from the Franklin Method. I learned this many years ago, from Eric Franklin, and it has been a part of my daily warm-up ever since. I have taught it to dancers (and non-dancers!) in many workshops / classes, such as for the national touring company of “A Chorus Line” – and the response has always been….”wow, I love this – thank you for teaching it to us!” I thought that since 4dancers has been highlighting feet this month, I would do an article for you describing this sequence.

This is most beneficial done before you do a class / rehearsal / performance, or even first thing in the morning when you get up. It does a lot more than just warm-up the feet, as I hope you will see as you do it along with me…

The Preparation

Before starting, take a quiet moment to “tune in” to how your body feels, especially your feet. Just stand comfortably, weight on both feet, and notice. There is no right / wrong, good / bad — it’s just a moment to see how your body is feeling overall, and your feet as well. (Think of it as a “pre-test”!)

The Exercise

1 – Massage: take just one Franklin Ball (I will discuss the balls at the end of this article), and put one foot on it. Gently roll your foot back and forth on the ball, giving the sole of your foot a nice massage. How much pressure you put on the ball is up to you, and how long you do it is also individual — your body will tell you “OK, that’s enough”.  It should feel good — no pain or discomfort, please!

massage 2

2 – Forefoot Rotation – Put your forefoot on the ball, heel braced on the ground (heel stays on the ground throughout) – inwardly then outwardly rotate your foot, reaching first the little toe / then the big toe down towards the ground. Your knee / hip will move with the foot — only go as far as comfortable in each direction. I usually do about 5-6 on each side. With this movement, you are getting lots of movement going in the various joints in the foot (all 33 of them!), as well as the ankle / knee / hip.
toes down2toes down 1

3 – Vary the inward / outward foot rolling so that now the toes are coming up and away  from the floor – I like to imagine that the floor is hot, and I have to reach my big toe / little toe up to the ceiling to get away from it. So it’s still an inward / outward rotation, but is different from the toes down version.

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