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For those of us "less than blessed" students that missed out on the turnout gene, can someone reccomend some stretches to improve one's turnout? I have tried the "froggy" stretch, but this really hurts my knees.


Any help would be much appreciated!

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Hello latestarter, welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers :innocent:


Actually, ballet exercises are engineered to improve rotation! If you really work at basics, like tendu, and especially rond de jambe à terre, you can improve your rotation. The butterfly stretch is safer and much easier on the knees than the frog. We also highly recommend more classes per week. Once a week simply will not do it. Have you tried New Haven Ballet? Surely there must be some good schools in that area that offer adult classes.

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I have really terrible turnout. This is what I have been doing recently, and it seems to help. I lie on my back with my head propped up on a hard cushion, and have my legs flopped out in the frog position. Then I watch television (this part is important!) The force of gravity pushes my legs gently down, and after a while it starts to hurt and I have to shake out and start again. It's great because it's gentle, and I can just slob and watch TV while I'm doing it.


I find sitting in the frog position is hard on my knees, for some reason. Perhaps this is not a good position for people with big turnout problems. It pulls my bad turnout knee but not my 'good' side.


It seems to be helping because I'm feeling much more comfortable in class, whereas before it was such a battle. My turnout doesn't look much better (though I'm hoping it will soon) but it feels better.

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We did a nice exercise in class (but it is pretty much what you do at the barre).

We stand facing the barre so that the hips are in better control. Then we do a tendu forward, flex the foot and bring it to the side (flexed) then back to front and back to side and then tendu and close. We repeat this several times, also starting backwards.

During the whole exercise we have to use the most turnout possible. For me it was really helpful with the flexed foot, I could control my turnout much better than with pointed toes.

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Guest pink tights

latestarter--when you have a few hours to spare (HA!!) do a search on "improving turnout". You will find hundreds of posts on turnout. Don't limit your search to the adult students boards, as the teen boards have great info (you have to get past some of the silliness and the teen speak!!).

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One of the best pieces of coaching I ever got came from a teacher who said that turnout was something you do and not something you have. I firmly believe in that.

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I've been practicing tendu side. When I tendu, I think more of rotating the standing leg. I've been *very* surprised at how much I let the rotation go on my standing leg. There's much more there than I thought. Even simple plies. I'll do demi plies just thinking about getting those knees as far side as my anatomy allows, throughout the entire plie and straightening. You'll know when you hit "maximum" and the bones allow no more. I've found that I'm not keeping my maximum even in basic movements.


Just working on those basics of plie and tendu will creep into the way you move in center. It's subtle muscles that control turnout, and you can't do any more than the bones allow. So just always work on the basics with your absolute maximum. Sometimes, this takes time outside of classroom work.

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Turnout is one of the things I am struggling with. I appreciate all the posts (and my teachers) who say that turnout is a matter of technique, strength, and holding it appropriately, and as my top priority in this area am of course working on those. But SURELY, turnout is also a matter of flexibility. If you cant turn out anatomically, no amount of technique will make you go further. And I guess that there is a grey range, where you can turn out but need more force than normal, so increasing your strength will mean you can turn out further. And more flexibilty means that the grey range shifts in the direction of more turnout. So I guess (or indeed hope, because if its not true its pretty negative for my ballet technique) that a contribution to more turnout is more flexibility.


The posts that say do tendues etc presumably are doing very little for improving the anatomical limits of flexibilty in the adult at least, because increased turnout ultimately can only come from stretching the Y-ligaments in the hips which is not easy. I think I have managed to stretch these a bit over the years, because if I now lie on my back with feet together and knees apart, and get a (light) friend to stand on my knees, they are nearly touching the floor, a marked improvement. (For those who say this is dangerous and I shouldnt do it I appreciate your comments, but if I took the path of safety I wouldnt be anywhere near where I am now in a number of things, but of course I will stop if it looks like going wrong.)


So I suppose my question is, does anyone know whether increasing the anatomical range of turnout possible, or if possible, undesirable (in case the costs are too great), in the adult? Or is the ONLY thing I can do, is make better use of the turnout I have already?


Many thanks,



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I've been *very* surprised at how much I let the rotation go on my standing leg. There's much more there than I thought.


I, too, have been working on this lately as I have gotten lazy and sit just the slightest amount in my standing leg.


Of course, we all know it's not the turnout you have that matters as much as the turnout you use...

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One of the best pieces of coaching I ever got came from a teacher who said that turnout was something you do and not something you have. I firmly believe in that.


:) THis is one that I have to disagree with big time (no offense intended as this is just my own personal opinion). Being the mom of a very late start dancer who is now training to be a professional dancer in the years to come, I wanted to share my thoughts on this.


My dd started late with no prior dancing before the age of almost 12, and she has witnessed some things over the past 2 years of ballet dancing that breaks her heart. My dd is very fortunate to have been born with a body that has adapted very 'naturally' to ballet, and her turnout, flexibility and extensions are things that continue to improve, but she does not have to 'force' the positions as she has seen many dancers feel that they have to do.


Her turnout is very good, but most of what she has came naturally to her body as she works hard in classes, but she has never had to 'push' her body beyond what it can do natually and safely. To give the false impression to students that thier personal turnout can eventually be just as good as 'so and so' is misleading and can be very dangerous to the dancer.


It breaks her heart as she sees dancers who work just as hard as she does, they are committed young dancers who want to be a professional one day as well. However some of these dancers do not have 'natural turnout' as they push and force thier bodies into postions to improve turnout and more. To simply say that turnout is something that you 'do' and not something you 'have' is misleading.


I feel that all dancers need to realize what thier own personal limitations are with thier own bodies, and not feel compelled to have to 'force' their turnout so they can eventually look like so and so. All dancers should get the training and encouragement needed to achieve thier own personal goals with dancing, but also to know thier own limits, so they are training safely to be the best dancer they can possibly be!!

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It's also important to find 'your' turnout. Don't compare yourself with others too much. You might want to ask your teacher about your turn out ability.

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Balletismykidslife -- I read your post with great interest even though, and especially since, I'm coming to ballet from a very different startingpoint than your DD. I took up adult ballet as an adjunct to other kinds of dance, and since I have very poor facility for ballet, cannot train intensively enough to progress very much.


My teachers have told me the same thing that Garyecht quotes, that turnout is something you do, and it has always seemed very liberating to me. I've always thought the maxim has very little to do with forcing your body to do something unnatural. Rather, it is a reminder that it is not enough just to plop your legs there at whatever turnout, whether it's 100 degrees or 180, but that ballet is about the _way_ you work at it.


Ballet can be a very fruitful discipline to study even if you don't have the perfect body, and learning how to work with rotation (and placement and the feeling of energy flowing through the body, and and....) is crucial in learning ballet. Or so it seems to me, YMMV :blushing: If my first teachers had emphasized the necessity of having 180 degrees rotation, I wouldn't have continued taking ballet nor would I ever have gained any of the many benefits.


Of course, it is probably necessary for the teachers of vocational-track students to approach things a bit differently, and point out gently that a professional ballet career might not be the best thing for them if they have too little natural rotation.


Jimpickles -- it is impressive that you have gained such good flexibility in the hips by working on it as an adult :thumbsup: It sounds like you have plenty of passive rotation to work with -- certainly enough that gaining commensurate strength would take a while. It seems maybe a bit unnecessary to extend the passive range of motion further, when the effort could be perhaps better spent on controlling and improving that turnout in movement... even limited turnout can look okay, when it's consistent and well held with correct placement.


(Can you tell that my favourite teachers are rather focused on correct alignment and good execution of the basics... ) :)

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Balletismykidslife - I wonder if we are reading "turnout is something you do, not something you have" differently. I read it as saying, its not the amount of turnout that you actually achieve that matters, but the fact of using your muscles to hold it. I think this last statement is in the spirit of what your post - and everyone else's - is saying too.


Sanna Koulu - this is the extreme of my passive flexibility - at the far end of the "grey range". It (clearly) needs a lot of force. I cant achieve anything near this actively, nor do I think I would be able to no matter how strong my turnout muscles (realistically) become. What I would like to do, is get my hips freer so I can achieve the turnout with my turnout muscles even a little closer what I can achieve by being climbed on by other people.


However, after an illuminating class last night, when it was pointed out that in pirouettes one reason why I was having problems was that I was letting go of the turnout in my supporting leg, I have been reminded again of how much I dont work my turnout muscles as much as I should.



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I think what Garyect implied was that in ballet work, you always need to actively be rotating one side against the other. When you tendu side, the standing leg really needs to rotate out in opposition in order to develop the turnout. It has nothing to do with the actual degree of rotation one possesses....it's the work that one does in order to develop the strength to maintain one's own maximum degree of rotation.


Turning out is something you *do*, not something you *have*.


Trust me, I've seen principal dancers in major companies who have very little "anatomical" turnout, but they look much better than many people who do have a lot of rotation, yet can't maintain it, or work properly from it.

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