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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Turn out


wannabe

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I've been reading posts on another thread regarding turnout and was wondering if anyone had any input regarding my daughter's problem. She has near perfect turnout of the hips and feet while at the same time the knees can point straight forward.

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If the knees face "straight forward" the turn out either has not been trained with patience and knowledge or the turn out is limited. It could be a combination of both as well. B) Turn out requires the activity of the entire leg, not the leg and the body in portions or separate parts.

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I guess I did not explain the problem fully. DD has been training at a very good Vaganova based school for the last five years and one of her teachers has commented on the great turnout of her hips and feet. When DD concentrates, she can make her knees great as well- but having her knees forward while hips and feet are turned out is just a natural comfortable position for her. Beyond making sure that she is paying attention to this problem at all times, are there any specific exercises that might help her?

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It sounds like she's not using the backs of her legs at all. She probably hasn't yet located the muscles there, so there are some exercises that she can do to locate the muscles; after that though, it's up to her to actually use them. :)

 

First, let's start with the hamstring/glute activator:

Laying down on a mat on the floor on your stomach, forehead resting on the backs of your hands, legs straight out, rotate legs to turned out position, pointe both feet, keep hip bones on the floor, lift one leg up in low arabesque, and draw tiny circles in the air with your big toe. Everything else must remain stable. Do 50 tiny circles, then repeat with other leg.

 

When complete, sit back on your heels to stretch the area. Believe me, you'll want to really bad. B)

 

You'll meet your hamstrings, your piriformis, and your gluteous minimus! :wub:

 

Now over on your back for the next one:

Laying flat on your back legs stretched out, turn both legs out, pointe both feet, keep feet pointed and push into the floor with your pinky toes, and the outsides of both your feet while you lift your hips up off the floor. Most likely, someone will have to hold your feet down because you won't quite be strong enough to do this yet.

 

This will activate the rotators, and the glutes, and your job is to use them when you dance.

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Sorry, I don't belong my DD is over 13, but can I ask a question. Clara 76, the tiny circles in arabesque, should they be en dehors, en dedans, or a mix of both, say 10 in each direction? Or doesn't it matter at all?

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En dehors. Sorry! :) Should have written that..... Thanks Doubleturn!

 

En dedans could leave some room for them to turn in a tiny bit, which wouldn't activate the right muscles.

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Great exercises Clara76. :thumbsup:

 

... any input regarding my daughter's problem. She has near perfect turnout of the hips and feet while at the same time the knees can point straight forward...

 

wannabe, I have done quite a bit of thinking regarding your question and continue to remain confused and concerned. :o You did ask the question, therefore please accept my polite response and concern. :lol:

 

guess I did not explain the problem fully. DD has been training at a very good Vaganova based school for the last five years and one of her teachers has commented on the great turnout of her hips and feet.

 

Having taught on a high professional level now for over 25 years (the last 13 as a certified teacher of the Vaganova methodology from Vaganova Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia. I ask that you please read my biography: http://www.harid.edu/ballet%20faculty.htm ), this statement is a cause for concern. Perhaps you have not phrased your concerns correctly, but my original statement of

If the knees face "straight forward" the turn out either has not been trained with patience and knowledge or the turn out is limited. It could be a combination of both as well. Turn out requires the activity of the entire leg, not the leg and the body in portions or separate parts.
is a factual statement, not an opinion.

 

The possibility of rotating the leg/thigh in the hip socket varies in all people. The accomplishment of this rotation is yet another. Anatomically it is not possible to rotate the thigh correctly and not rotate the knees if turn out is being taught carefully and correctly. From my observation, particularly in "Vaganova" training outside of the former Soviet Union or in schools who employ uncertified teachers in the program, feet are placed at 180 degrees as a premise for turn out and work the rotation upwards rather from strenghtening the torso (central section of the body) so that the legs may slowly rotate correctly as a whole in the hip socket, calf and feet. In this manner the entire leg, including the knees will rotate. The feet are not difficult to rotate, but the calf and the thigh is a challenge for student and teacher alike. The exercises that Clara76 has suggested are important exercises that would be done everyday in a Vaganova pre-ballet and 1st year class (ages7-10), at first in a classroom situation and in further years done by the students on their own. In Vaganova training without the correct understanding of the placement of the body and the rotation of the legs in the first year of study, the students would be dismissed from training so as not to place the student in continuing danger to the body. It is recognized the students only have one body to live their lives. If it is not handled with respect by the teachers, students and familes, the damage done can be long term.

 

Working in professional programs does give a teacher access to students from various backgrounds through the audition systems and SIs. I see on audition forms and in student files all the time that they have been studying "Vaganova" for xxx number of years, yet I rarely see the results of this very professional method of teaching. As with all idealogies of teaching, the results will be solid and clear when good teaching is taking place and the program of study is being implemented as it was designed to do. Please understand that the Vaganova method cannot be taught in part. It is a complete program of study that begins at the age of 7-9 with pre-ballet, at least 3 days a week. At 10 the children begin with the dance classes for 4 hours a day, 6 days a week. The course of study escalates from there on through the age of 18 or 19 (depending upon birthdate).

 

Even in my situation at Harid, I am not able to say that I teach a strictly Vaganova program of study. I do the best I am able under the circumstances. I spend almost up to a year specifically on teaching the students how to rotate the legs in the hip socket standing on two legs and then on one. Knowing this aspect of teaching well and accomplishing the task is challenging but for further development in vocabulary, this is an endeavour that must be approached responsibly for the Vaganova program to be effective and honest. Without the correct understanding of 'turn out" there is no professional understanding of classical line in ballet.

 

This is information for all, perhaps not specific to some however if the issue of "Vaganova" is not addressed from time to time on BT4D, the misunderstandings about this highly professional and qualified system of teaching continues and it is important that those who enter the world of ballet training are educated in the facts of training systems so they are able to make educated choices. I had great fortune to study this program of teaching in St. Petersburg, Russia. It is difficult to let misinformation regarding the program pass from time to time. As with all systems of teaching there are good students and good teachers, but there is also the other side of the coin. :D

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May I also please add that turn out is the same in all methods of teaching ballet. AD and choreographers do not care, at least in most places, about a method of learning/teaching. They care that dancers are able to, and do, turn out well and in a healthy manner. The correct way to turn out the legs for ballet, that is. There are no options for the end result. :lol:

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vrsfanatic, thanks for your comments!! I'm sure I'm not explaining the problem correctly, but am trying to relay comments from my DD (as she understands them). My daughter has been told that she has very good turnout. She has been successful in summer audtions (accepted to both SAB and Boston this year) and has commented that the auditioners have stopped and looked at her for a long time when they check turnout. I wish that either you could see her or that I knew enough about ballet to explain better. When I printed out the post from Clara 76, my DD understood exactly what exercises to do. She was so excited that this kind of info was available on this site!!

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wannabe, if you could take a few photos of her and post them in an album we can link to, that might help. I would like to see her standing in parallel, straight in first position, and demi plié in first position, all from the front and from the side. A grand plié in second position would also be good, front and side.

 

I thought at first that she might just be 'knock kneed', but, without seeing her, it's impossible to know. And, even if she were knock kneed, if she has the rotation from the hips, the knees should be over the toes. :dry:

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  • 1 month later...

My DD is recovering from an injury and has been working with a physiotherapist. Her first visit involved a series of measurements to determine my DD"s level of strength and flexibility and those were taken bilaterally. My DD is about to be discharged from PT and the physiotherapist took the same measurements again to determine how much strength and flexibility has been restored to the site of the injury. Upon doing so she additionally checked my DD's hip rotation in order to determine whether her hip flexors are tight. She stated that naturally there is some tightness due to the several weeks of my DD going without her usual physical activities but she still has her full outward rotation - which she referred to as "turnout" and it was 90 degrees externally in each hip. Her internal rotation, however, is VERY tight at only 20 degrees.

 

Years ago my DD was told by a teacher that outside of ballet class she should try to walk in a more parallel position even though it feels unnatural to her. She has mastered it for the most part even though occasionally she is slightly turned out while walking. When she stands in parallel for a prolonged period, however, she reports it as very uncomfortable.

 

My questions are, if ballet is primarily executed in a turned out position and she has no issue with it due to being structurally fully turned out then how will her lack of INTERNAL rotation affect her ability to learn other dance forms safely? Also, if she is structurally turned out then she cannot possibly force "turnin" so will she be vulnerable to injuries often associated with parallel positioning?

 

As I write this I realize that I can ask the physiotherapist to show her some routine stretching exercises to help her but my questions still stand for any of the teacher/moderators here on BT who may be able to offer some input.

 

Thank you.

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