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Yet another turnout question!


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As a new member here I have been browsing the site and see that there have been many threads concerning turnout but I wonder if I may ask another question just to clarify a point of anatomy!


It seems to me (and please correct me if I am wrong!) that the degree of available turnout/hip rotation is determined by the construction of the hip joint itself - i.e we are talking bones here. However, I also presume there must be some muscles/ligaments/tendons that play a part insomuch as they determine how much the bones can actually move.


Let me try and put this into the context of an excercise that my daughter does. I call it froggies but I beleive in the US you call it butterfly and froggies is done on the front as is a real no no! She lies on her back and lets her knees flop out to the side. They are usually a few inches from the floor but, ocassionally after a class, her teacher has her do this and pushes the knees down. Normally in this situation, the knees reach the floor, although she cannot maintain that position without the pressure. I am assuming (again, maybe incorrectly!) that as this causes her no discomfort beyond a stretch, that her hip joint is constructed in such a way as to allow good turnout but that other things need to be stretched/tightened to make it useable. Am I making any sense here? :grinning:


Look forward to any comments.



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  • Administrators

Yes, you are making sense :) There are definitely muscles, tendons and ligaments involved, for instance the muscles in the gluteus maximus, and the tendons and ligaments around the hip socket. The tendons and ligaments are stretched with the various exercises learned in classes, and by using them correctly when working. The muscles in the gluteus need to work by using them, not allowing them to remain loose. This requires alignment as well as the knowledge of how to use them without overusing them. Overusing would be gripping. Working and gripping are totally different things. Gripping causes sitting into the hips, which prevents freedom of motion and use of rotation. Ballet, correctly taught, is designed to teach all of these things. It takes a long time, however, for a young child to learn to do this, and it cannot be rushed or forced. Patience and a teacher who will work to develop everything in a reasonable manner. :grinning:

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I am assuming (again, maybe incorrectly!) that as this causes her no discomfort beyond a stretch, that her hip joint is constructed in such a way as to allow good turnout but that other things need to be stretched/tightened to make it useable.


This has gotten me really curious. Can you assume that if you can get your knees to the ground in this fashion, that the perfect turnout will be possible with lots of work in the future? Is there a test of some sort that will tell you what kind of turnout you could expect sometime in the future with proper training?




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Debby, getting the knees all the way down when sitting or lying down is different from when one is upright. It can indicate the potential for good rotation if they go all the way down, or close to it, but, is no guarantee that it will be that good in actual usage. The only test to truly determine actual rotation is with a measuring thing that some PT's will use. However, actual current rotation is not the limit of what one can achieve. Everyone has a limit, but I don't really think there is any way of pre-determining that limit. Too many factors involved.

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I agree with Ms. Leigh. My DD has just had such measurements taken as part of a mid-convalescence protocol by both an orthopedic physician and physiotherapist. Their intent was not to determine her turnout per se, though they prefaced the measurement by stating that it would indicate degree of turnout, but rather to determine the condition of other structural factors which affect turnout. Much of what Ms. Leigh has stated reinforces the facts of research (which may be obtained from an orthopedist, physiotherapist, and or other dance medicine specialist such as Ruth Solomon (prof. UCSC)) which indicate that rotational turnout determined while lying down is VERY different than FUNCTIONAL turnout which is determined in standing position.


A student may have a very high degree of external rotational turnout AND functional turnout but may not work well with it if proper strength and alignment are not developed and consistently utilized. Put simply, "flat" turnout means nothing when all other factors are not kept in balance. Slow, steady, consistent, HIGH QUALITY training is critical for safely developing the proper use of functional turnout which is why teachers encourage students of ALL degrees of turnout to learn to use what they have (structurally - which cannot be changed) to the best of their ability and to NEVER force turnout. After all, from an audiences perspective there is no way to measure the degree of a particular dancer's turnout while they are performing but it becomes quickly obvious when a dancer has not learned proper use of turnout.


Genetics, proper application of good training, and proper care (like never ignoring an injury) will help a dancer to best utilize what they have.

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Thank you, everyone, I think I'm getting there!


Can I read into this that not having flat turnout in itself need not be a limiting factor and that having less than flat turnout that is well used and developed can be just as acceptable, as long as everything else is in place?

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Yes, as long as it is good enough to create the line. There are sometimes students who are so limited in rotation that even using it well is not good enough, but more often it can be developed well enough without being "flat". Actually, very, very few people have that degree of natural rotation.

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