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Hip placement in developpe/battement


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Since everyone has been talking about developpe it got me thinking alot about hip placement...


Im confused as to the placement of the hips in all directions for developpe and battement... I keep hearing people say "keep your hips square", but it seems like ther must be some hip movement/accomadation above 90º for front or side extensions? And even before that for movements to the back? I guess my question is, how high do you have to raise the leg before some accomadation is allowed in the hip (I know you arent supposed to lean over and sit in the standing leg, but I mean like allowing the hip to be forward in a high front battement sort of thing?

Does anyone understand what Im saying??

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Sashinka, the hips are supposed to stay square for front and side extensions, although at the very highest level, well above 90 degrees side, there may be a bit of displacement allowed in some methods. In terms of the arabesque position, there is a forward and upward movement of the body weight, and the hip may open slightly to allow the rotation. It does not lift, but it will have to open, or there will just not be any turn out of the extended leg.

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When you look at your hipbones you will see, that it is anatomically impossible to keep your hips square but it is worth trying to keep them square as possible. It creates a much nicer line. B)

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Actually, it is quite possible to remain square in front and side extensions, if you have an exceptional amount of both rotation and flexibility. Arabesque is another story, as of course the gluteus maximus is in the way. B)

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Does this mean that the hip is not supposed to move forward at all in a front battement at about 130-140º? This is where I get confused because I am looking at Gretchen Ward Warrens book right now and it says that "in very high extensions to the front, it is usually necessary for the hip of the lifted leg to go forward"... (also in the picture, it appears as though the dancer has lost some of the rotation she had at the lower height, why is this?)

So if I understand you correctly, there are people who can reach 120 or higher to the side and not tilt their pelvis at all?

Actually this brings up another question... why is it easier to remain square if you have very good rotation? I mean, wouldn't the height you can reach with your hips square mostly depend on your flexibility? I supposed I'm saying that if you had poor rotation and good flexibility, what would happen?


Also, if anyone knows of any pictures of the super flexible people who can reach very high in the side with square hips, please direct me, I'm just curious to see it!

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I supposed I'm saying that if you had poor rotation and good flexibility, what would happen?


As this pretty much describes me, I'm curious too :thumbsup:


Also, I hear about opening the hips a lot, but what the heck does that mean? How do you open a hip? I'm getting very strange images in my head. :D

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The hip only "opens" for arabesque and attitude positions.


It IS possible to have high extensions without displacement of the hips, but it requires both the flexibility and the rotation. Extension without rotation is useless. I would rather see a beautifully rotated extension at 90 degrees than a 120 degree extension with loss of rotation.

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Sorry - by rotation do you mean turnout? I.e. I presume you mean that the most important thing is that turnout should be maintained constant at all degrees of elevation. Is that right?


Many thanks,



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That's correct, Jim. Actually, for a lovely example of a high extension à la seconde, you need look no further than this page, where there are two photos of Ms. Leigh herself in extremely well-placed developpés. :wub:

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Thanks for the example Hans, they're beautiful pictures... :wink:


Sorry to beat a dead horse here, but I guess I didnt articulate what I was asking...

I still dont understand what happens to people with poor rotation? Are there developpes always ugly, no matter what the height?

And I do understand that you must keep the utmost rotation you have at all levels of height, but why would your rotation become less as you get higher? Do people just forget to keep their leg turned out, or is there some physical reason for the loss of rotation? (as in a person with 150º of rotation would only have 120º at shoulder height, or something like this..)

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Because it's a combination of the rotation and the extension, or flexibility. The important thing in ballet is line, and line involves rotation. Therefore, a lower extension, with rotation, is better than a higher extension without it. There are some people who have both very early, and others who have one or the other and it takes a long time to develop both. But the primary factors are placement and rotation, in terms of classical ballet. Extension has to follow that, not precede it.

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Strange how you think of a question, then you log on to BT to find someone else has beaten you to it :shrug:

Stunning pictures ms Leigh :D and great explanation, primary factors are placement and rotation, extension follows that not precedes it :)

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Guest ArmedFiddler

Ms. Leigh, those are beautiful pictures! (thank you, Hans, for posting the link)


I'm probably just joining on beating the dead horse here, but I'd like to clarify if what I've been instructed on this matter is correct or not...


I was taught that there's a difference between keeping the hips "squared" at high elevations, and keeping them "level." It's impossible to keep them completely "square" (meaning, both illiac crests of the pelvis held at the same height so that a straight line could be drawn between them, or a perfect box drawn around the pelvis, hence the term "squared") in any lift of the leg of 90 degrees or above. But they can still be "level," meaning both facing in the same direction (and aligned with the shoulders) regardless of height in the leg. And that there is always some opening of the hips, in any movement taken on one leg (even a retire). Any thoughts?


I was also taught that maintaining the turnout is the first priority, then leveling of the hips, THEN height of extension. And if the height is compromising either of the other two priorities, one must lower the leg.


If I'm irritating anyone by restating the same issue in different words, I apologize. I blame the migraine for the brain fog. :innocent:

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I recommend that you consult Classical Ballet Technique by Gretchen Ward Warren, University of South Florida Press, 1989, p. 21, pictures and all.

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