Supporting the Ballet Dancer from the Ground Up: Ankle & Foot Stability through Functional Awareness®

Presenter: Nancy Romita, Senior Lecturer Towson University; Allegra Romita, Adjunct Faculty NYU Steinhardt


This presentation/workshop advocates a position that ballet educators are poised to foster dancer wellness practices while providing strategies to enhance ankle/foot stability to improve performance. Fifty percent of overuse injuries in dancers are to the ankle and foot (Leiderbach 2018). This presentation examines current research on ankle/foot injuries in ballet dancers, demonstrates how unconscious daily habits can support or compromise ankle/foot stability, and provides specific strategies to be utilized in classroom training to improve both expressivity and stability of foot to support the ballet aesthetic.

The presenter’s methodology translates/transforms/integrates research in functional anatomy and motor learning into practical embodied practices to support efficacy in dance training using Functional Awareness®.  Functional Awareness® is a practical somatic approach to embodied anatomy to enhance understanding of movement function, facilitate ease in body action and improve dynamic alignment. The presenter’s pedagogical philosophy embraces honoring diversity and inclusion during embodied movement practice and demonstrates specific verbal cueing to support empathy and student agency while enhancing skills. The cueing and communication strategies disseminated and practiced during the session are influenced by the work of Dermott McDermott, in active listening and peer feedback skills, Mary Whitehouse’s authentic movement® practices, and current research on student agency and growth mindset by the Harvard research team of Ronald Ferguson et al. (2015) and Zeynep, Barlas & Obhi (2013).

This session can be successfully presented as an in-person lesson or as a synchronous learning experience in the virtual classroom.


Nancy Romita

Nancy Wanich Romita (MFA, RSME, M.AmSAT) is a dance educator and author. She is co-author of Functional Awareness: Anatomy in Action for Dancers published by Oxford University Press, and she provides continuing education workshops for both dance educators and professional dancers to enhance training and performing skills. Ms Romita is Senior Lecturer at Towson University ( and director of Alexander Technique Midatlantic Teacher Training. She was served on the faculty at SUNY Purchase, American Dance Festival, and the 92nd St. YMWHA in NYC. Ms Romita is co-founder of Functional Awareness® ( She is former Artistic Director of The Moving Company from 1993-2001. Her research has been presented at the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science, National Dance Education Organization, CORPS de Ballet International, Alexander Technique International Congress and keynote addresses at MDEA, NYSDEA, and the BETI Somatics and Dance Conference. Her second book co-authored with Allegra Romita and published by Oxford University Press released in January 2019.


Allegra Romita

Allegra Romita (MA, CMA, RYT) is Co-author of Functional Awareness Anatomy in Action for Dancers. Allegra is on faculty at NYU Steinhardt in the Dance Education Program. She is currently pursuing a second graduate degree in motor learning and control at Teachers College, Columbia University, NYC. Since 2011, she has been performing with Sydnie L. Mosley Dances in NYC and currently is the Artistic Visioning Partner with the company. Allegra’s passion for somatic investigation led her to certification in Laban Movement Analysis through the Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies. Her research has been presented at the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science, NDEO, CORPS de Ballet International, and keynote addresses at NYSDEA and the BETI Somatics and Dance Conference. Her second book co-authored with Nancy Romita, entitled Functional Awareness and Yoga: An anatomical Guide to the Body in Reflective Practice released by Oxford University Press in January 2019.