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Ballet Talk for Dancers

TURNOUT


yankee

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I read through the posts on the DUCK WALKING thread and was interested in whether anyone could explain the difference between degree of turnout and percentage of turnout (i.e. 180 degree vs. 65% turnout)?

 

What range is deemed desirable for ballet (stated as degree and percentage if possible)? Some other dance forms appear to primarily stress using the parallel position. My daughter says it "hurts," and although she doesn't have a very strong "duck" presence in her walking, she says standing in parallel doesn't feel right in her hips.

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Mel Johnson

I have an odd feeling that, in this context, "percentage" is actually somebody who doesn't realize that alt 248 = °, and is using the percent symbol as a substitute for the degree symbol.

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It seems that this is likely so.

 

In reference to the question of range of turnout, is there an optimal degree range of turnout for ballet? For example 45-180? Since so few people seem to have a full 180 degree turnout, is proper alignment more important than actual degree? I'm just curious as to why turnout is important in ballet and if it has something to do with the aesthetic line that I've heard of (but do not know that much about). I have read about injuries due to over rotating from the knee in an attempt to achieve a greater degree of turnout, rather than working within the natural range that the hip allows.

 

Any additional thoughts or comments on this?

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Mel Johnson

I don't have any hard statistics on this, but in my experience, I doubt whether 10% (ten PER CENT) of beginning students have natural 180° (one hundred eighty DEGREES) rotation from the hip. Some can develop it, others will remain short of that El Dorado. In any case, the most well-rotated student will go nowhere without proper placement and alignment. Having perfect turnout is one thing, but far more important is how well the students use the turnout they have!

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Wizardofizzard

With so much ado regarding turnout and the disastrous effects of forcing it, where will the pain/injury usually manifest itself first when this happens? How can a parent ascertain if this is the case for their dk?

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Dancing without Danger by Donald F. Featherstone has a section titled "Common Foot Injuries Incured by Dancers". My dd was pronating (rolling) when trying to force her turnout. Pronating can bring a myriad of problems. That's a thread in itself. She's improved a great deal but is still working on not pronating. If she has a complaint we usually find it's something caused by rolling.

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  • 2 years later...

I've read through previous posts but none have really answered my question. My almost 10 year old daughter is very musical, but has very poor turnout. She is working very hard to improve both flexibility and turn out, and has made signficiant improvements in her flexibilty (I can't really judge if she has improved her turnout or not).

 

1. I see from the prior posts that she should be able to improve her turnout, but wonder how much? Are there anatomical barriers that will prevent her from developing adequate turnout no matter how hard she works (and how can I tell if this is the case?).

 

2. The school evaluates potential turn out by having them do froggy (but on their back). She has two inches of air between the back of her knee and the ground. Does she need to have her knees flat on the ground to dance at a high level, and is it realistic to see that much improvement? How much improvement is possible for a normal human being of this age?

 

Thanks.

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Mel Johnson

Turnout (where the feet stand on the floor) will not approach 180° unless the rotation of the leg in the hipsocket gets there first. Build rotation first, and turnout must naturally follow. One hundred eighty degrees - ninety on each leg, is the ideal, but not everyone will get there. It is not absolutely essential that the ideal be reached, but the student must work toward that goal. Your daughter is ten. Relax.

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The short answer is that there could be physical barriers, like thicker bones that would not allow as much movement in the joint, or tight/shorter tendons and ligaments that prevent movement. However, as Major Johnson said, she is only 10, and from what you're describing it sounds as though she is within the safe range for practicing ballet without injury.

 

Also, just the amount that a person has when laying flat on their back with their feet touching, knees out to the sides, is only one indication of how flexible their hip joint is; there are other factors to consider, and the amount that a person is able to engage and use while standing is really the most important thing. I've seen kids who are flat to the floor in that position, but when they stand and try to move, they don't use what they have and it appears that they have absolutely no rotation.

 

You can take her to a PT to have her current degree tested. Just be aware that it may change with puberty.

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vrsfanatic

With all of the turn out a student must also have good teaching. Without that, no student can excel. There are more students with turn out abilities who never learn to turn out to their balletic potential than one would think. There are also so many who just may seem so limited in class, in the turn out department, but when they dance, the limitaions can disappear if cast correctly and costumed well.

 

Ballet is not a science. Your daughter is young still. Let the process begin. If she enjoys the life, she may push herself to succeed, if she does not she may drop out by herself. Give her time to explore. :)

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The following excercise was given to my daughter's class (ages 10-14) to improve turnout:

Use a balance ball

Lie on your back, your feet up on the ball. Lift your hips as if you are a plank. Put your arms to the sides of you to help with stability.

Drop your feet out, or turn them out.

Roll the ball towards you in a sort of upside down plie in the air. Roll the ball back out again.

She was told that this method of training for turn out would not put strain on the knees and would strengthen the core.

Before starting any kind of excercise like this, check with your instructor. I am not a dancer, I am just repeating what I understood from the teacher at our school.

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