If you have good mobility of your big toe and a good pointe range, but can’t quite show this off in your single leg rises, it is important to train this area in isolation from your regular dance training. Improving strength and control in this area is a great way to guard against a number of foot and ankle injuries common to dancers. Try the following exercise to improve your strength. It helps wake up all the small muscles of your foot that need to work to get a full demi-pointe position.
See how many full height single leg rises you can do in parallel, as a base measure.
Face a barre or wall with finger tips gently resting for support.
Stand in parallel to begin, with the feet slightly apart.
Slowly rise on both feet to your full height of demi pointe.
Transfer your weight to one foot, maintaining the height of demi-pointe.
Lift the other foot off the floor and hold your balance on one leg for a few seconds.
Slowly lower the heel of the supporting leg to the floor, remembering to maintain the inside of your arch.
Place the lifted foot back to the floor and repeat 10 times each side.
Once you are confident that you can maintain the full height of demi-pointe, try the same exercise starting in first position, focusing on maintaining turnout as you rise and transfer the weight.
This will help improve the control of all the small muscles of your feet quite quickly. After several weeks of doing this, retest how many full height single leg rises you can do! For a video of this exercise click on the following youtube link.