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"Open" positions (3rd, open 4th)

Jaana Heino

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This is in response to a thread on the teacher's forum, really, but since I don't think I am supposed to post there.


Someone said there that they cannot see how turnout has anything to do with crossing the legs, since after all anyone can place their feet after another in parallel. While it seems to me that this is true, some of my teachers recommend using 3rd or an open 4th (instead of 5th or full 4th) for those of us who do not have that tremendous turnout, or not the strength to hold the rotation yet, anyway. They say that it is easier to work the turnout muscles correctly if you do not cross completely, and thus this helps you to work towards more rotation, in the case where your bone structure still allows room for improvement.


I feel that this seems to be true, it is easier to engage the correct muscles from 3rd than from 5th, and so I often use 3rd myself in the classes where it is allowed, especially at the beginning of the barre. Question is, since people seem to have conflicting opinions, I am wondering if there is an actual basis for this, or it is just a psychological thing (I work harder, because my teachers have gotten me to believe I can work harder :sweating:)?


If it matters for the case, I am very hyper-extended and struggle much with the weight falling to heels problem. (Though it is getting better.)

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I'm hyperextended (unevenly---one leg much more than the other) and have the same issue with the weight going into the heels (but improving)


It seems harder to hold the front of my hips "flat" in a crossed position. If my pelvis tips forward then turnout diminishes. In first and second position I can turn out all the way.


I think it's a matter of 5th being harder to lift out of and to not "grip" the front of the hips in an attempt to hold the position. It's a more challenging placement issue. Once the placement is OK and the front of the hips relaxed, the turnout can happen. But not until the hips are in the right place to allow the rotation to happen.


I work a crossed fifth in the center (you can't really do a Balanchine style class without it) but never really have it 100% tight--heel to toe. I prefer not to , with the leg length difference I have. I think it would kill my knees. The audience doesn't really see it anyway, so long as it's crossed. Crossing also allows quick transfers of weight onto supporting hip instead of always dancing "between" your hips.


For plie at the barre, All I try and do is relax the front of the hips. Make it comfortable. I find where I can turn out my knees all the way and think about that alone. I "let" it open, instead of trying to "get" it to open, if that makes sense. Hard to describe.

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lampwick, we probably have very similar bone structure :) I cannot rotate full 180 degrees even in first, but I my rotation is definitely much better then. Thanks for the comments, they do help me.


However, I still am wondering about the idea that working from open positions like 3rd will better develop rotation strength than trying to get directly to 5th. Or is it something personal, that one can only judge by seeing a student work?

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I don't think that working from 3rd or any open position is going to work for doing any center work. Every step in the vocabulary goes from a crossed position, either 4th or 5th, in the center. Without those positions, there is no beginning and no ending to the steps, and there is no rotation during the steps. How can you make an assemblé, for instance, if there is no 5th? You have to make the 5th in the air and then land in it. If you are aiming for a 3rd, the legs would be open in the air. Not an assemblé.

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