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Heels together in first?


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When I stand in first position (I have horrible turnout, so it is probably about a 140 degree angle) my heels don't touch. My teacher told me it might be because of hyper extended knees but I really don't understand that because my legs don't appear to hyperextend at all. Maybe they do and I can't see them.


Sorry, rambling. My question is how do I make them touch in first. Is it a turnout issue? It seems that the few other people with poor turnout still have heels that touch. But even when I concentrate solely on making my heels touch each other I can't do it without sticking my bottom back and I certainly can't when I am moving quickly. I feel like my calves get in the way.


This has become a pretty big issue for me now that I am taking class with some of the younger kids. I am worried that the teacher is going to think I am not taking corrections seriously because I'm not sure if she knows I'm not a 10-15 year old. Turnout is completely new to me (along with the rest of ballet) and while I really am listening to the corrections and trying to make them, my body can't change this quickly and I'm already having to deal with some knee pain from poorly corrected turnout. (I'm working those hip muscles, but it doesn't seem to be happening yet.)

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Guest kristinene

I'm not an instructor - but I can offer my anecdote. My turnout is less than perfect too - I would say about the same as you. My legs hyperextend ever so slightly, but I still most comfortable and well aligned when my heels are slightly apart. My legs are together, but my heels are not.


I have thought that this isn't a problem - am I wrong? I'm sure one of our wonderful moderators will jump in here soon! :rolleyes:

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I've been told it's much more important to have proper alignment than for the heels to be touching in first. I have over-developed calf muscles, not great turnout and a shallow plie, so keeping a small, probably quarter-inch or less, space between my heels helps compensate for all those deficiencies. :rolleyes:

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My left leg is hyperextended, and the right one is slightly hyperextended. I need to leave a small space or my knees aren't straight, or else they overlap. The tricky part is to not fully extend both legs or else I'm leaning over to the right all the time. The legs are totally different lengths. fun fun.


I would think that the alignment of your pelvis and spine are most important at this point. Trust your teacher to make recommendations. Adults are capable of changing thier bodies too.

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  • Administrators

Scoop has it right, Skittl. It is totally legitimate to work with a small space in the first position if you are either hyperextended and/or have large calf muscles. It's better to be properly aligned than to have the heels touching. If you teacher does not understand this, show her what happens to you when the heels are touching. She should have enough understanding of alignment to recognize that perhaps some adjustment is needed in your case. Hopefully. :)

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Thanks everyone for the advice. If she gives me the correction again I will talk to her after class to show her why I have the difficulty.


It just seems I get SO many corrections in this class, I don't want them to think I'm not taking it seriously.

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If your teacher can't show you how to assume the position correctly (maybe your calf muscles are in the way??) after class when you ask for help, and then doesn't stop correcting you in class there is a problem. Otherwise corrections would make me feel like there is hope of getting it right even if it is overwhelming when they hit all at once. You don't want to be the one the teacher gave up correcting. Personally, I was thrilled the day my calves finally developed enough to touched each other when in first position, but I have seen plenty of others who had space between their heels and one teacher I had left them alone. Alignment was everything to her. She wouldn't even allow a 5th position unless it was correct throughout the body. My class worked in 3rd a lot. Good luck.


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Guest frappè23

i have a little hyper-extension in my legs and when i try to put my heels together in first my knees cant straighten. my teacher taught me to always have a little space in-between my feet in first because of this. she said that as you get stronger, you can move your heels farther apart, as long as the calves are touching eachother.

Edited by frappè23
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  • Administrators

Actually, the idea would be to try and get them closer together as you get stronger and better placed. Too big a space allows one to push back INTO the hyperextension. I agree with a small space, but it needs to be as small as possible but still allow one to get the alignment right and legs straight.

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Well I did talk to my teacher today (a different one... this is the one who apparently is the regular teacher, the other was a sub- I just switched schools). She also gave me the heels together correction. I guess I am quite hyperextended (never knew it, can't see it- but everyone else does) After class I was asking her about the space between my heels and how I feel like my calves are in the way and that I loose my alignment when I force them together and her solution to the heels together is work harder- other hyperextended people manage.


So I guess thats what I'll have to do. During tendus today I was able to get them together more often I just really have to think about it and push them- it is hard to do quickly, but usually quick is from fifth so for now I am okay. Being "encouraged" (politely yelled at) seems to get them closer so hopefully I'll be able to get it sometime soon.


I feel like I am letting my bottom push back when I put my legs together but it might be in my head, my teacher said she didn't see it, and I trust her and her teaching credentials.


Thanks all for the advice.

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I attended a teacher's workshop a few years ago given by a well-known and highly thought of teacher and coach, Maria Vegh. She had an interesting suggestion, I remember, for hyperextension. She suggested wearing thin, flexible knee pads in reverse, the pad being placed at the back of the knee. This would help give the dancer the correct "feeling" of engaging the muscles above the knee without the knee locking back in full hyperextension. I thought it was interesting...worth a try, maybe...just for barre...

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The reverse kneepads would be a great, constant reminder to focus the feeling behind the knees and to lengthen back there. I used to be afraid of even focucusing on that area (afraid of "locking" back). I've found with some more experience that I DO, in fact, need to feel that area nice and straight.

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