A Chinese woman walking with Bound Feet [video]

As part of my inquiry what it would like to walk with bound feet for my performance of Bound Feet Blues, I found this video of an elderly Chinese woman with bound feet.

I have been watching it to get a sense of her movement so that it can help me portray the walk of a woman with bound feet in my show.

The main thing that I notice is that she does not  flex her foot as she walks ie landing on her heel, flowing forward and then pushing off with the balls of her feet – she cannot because of the way that footbinding breaks the toes and cuts and compresses / bends the soles of the feet.

Her knees do not bend much and the main propulsion comes from her hips and thighs.

Jessica, my director, pointed out that the woman isn’t particularly slow either and there is a forward momentum to the walk. In my experiments so far I was walking slowly but it seemed clear that having bound feet didn’t necessarily slow women down to a crawling pace.

This aligns with some of what I’ve been experimenting with in simulating a “bound feet walk” eg by curling my toes over.

More on my experiments of walking with bound feet coming up over the next few days…


Yang-May Ooi is an award-winning TEDx speaker, bestselling author and story performer. Her work uses the power of personal narrative to inspire women to grow into confident, collaborative leaders. She is currently rehearsing a one woman story performance, Bound Feet Blues, which will be showcased in London’s West End in Oct 2014.


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