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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Help with using available turn out


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I feel like I'm having a crisis of technique this year! It seems like the more advanced I get, the more work there is because the more I find I am doing wrong. :) I think the most urgent issue is turn out. I think I have respectable turn out, not 90 degrees but I can sit in butterfly with knees flat to the ground, and lie face down in a frog with everything flat. But I can't use my turn out in class at all, except for maybe in a plie. Basically my supporting leg turns completely in, in like arabesque, attitude etc. In adage as soon as I start a developpe either my supporting leg turns in as soon as I leave 5th, or if I plant my leg firmly and try to hold my turn out while starting the developpe, my body turns round on top of my leg! Even at the barre I'll think I'm turned out in a nice 5th but I'll look down after an exercise and see actually it's really bad. I think perhaps my teacher corrects us all the time on turn out of the working leg so I haven't been thinking about the other leg. I guess there's no point in having a really turned out working leg if the supporting one is practically turned in!


I think you might say to keep working carefully, but because my classes are quite fast now (I mean not simple) it seems like the time to work on this has passed and I should have basic stuff like turn out down by now.


If it's relevant, I'm in RAD advanced 1 and have class 6 days a week. If you do have any advice that would be great, thank you. :party:

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Hello, safetypin, and welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers. :)


You've got half of the turnout battle won - you have the flexibility from the hipjoint that will allow you to get the leg to a properly turned-out position, but a passive state of flexibility, as in the butterfly stretch, is much different from what happens when there's weight on the legs and you have to make the leg turn out with your own strength! While keeping the spine well-lengthened, now try to rotate both legs from the hips using the muscles about the pelvic girdle, as the hamstrings and the gluteals. Also pulling inward and upward on the lower abdominals will help support turnout. It will also help support the extension of the working leg in developpé. These abdominals should be fully engaged throughout any combination, no matter if slow or fast.

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Thank you for the welcome! Wow, I totally wasn't thinking about the abdominals at all so that could be the problem. I was just thinking about turning out my legs from the top. I'll try what you said in class today, thank you! :)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Also, make sure you don't lock your knees in an attempt to feel length through your legs--I found that I had been doing this for quite a while, and it's actually impossible to turn out properly when your knees are locked. Try to feel forward with your pelvis and keep your weight in the ###### of your feet. These will help you shift your weight more easily during barre, and allow you to develop your turnout while your legs are working.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I thought I would report back on my progress. I'm not sure whether I have actually improved my turnout yet but thinking about using my abdominals and rotating from the hamstrings and gluteals is making me stand more forward, which is good as one of my other problems is having my weight too far back. So hopefully this will lead to more turnout as I get used to it (it feels a bit weird having my hips more forward). Thanks for the help!

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I usually find that many dancers with fine turn out are not holding their pelvis level and engaging the hamstrings. I agree with Major Mel.

Also at Advanced one level I would strongly recommend that you get into some pilates reformer classes. It will help to engage your turn out and strengthen your abdominals. It will give you the time to develop the muscles so that they will work automatically when you get into class.

Good Luck. :D

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Yes, a lot of people have told me Pilates would be good for me, I have a sort of long and loose body and not much control, very injury prone. But in my city I can't find anywhere with equipment, though I did take a few mat classes and didn't think them very well taught. Maybe in the summer I could go to London. I'd die to have muscles working automatically!

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