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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Developing Turnout


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Sorry to labour this point but I'm really trying to assess whether DD has a chance at getting into vocational ballet school. The physical assessment that my daughter has just had said that her NATURAL turnout is about 40-45 degrees in each hip i.e. only about half the 90 degree ideal flat turnout. My question here is - what is average/normal for a dancer of nearly 13 yrs old and would she be able to achieve a ballet career with this apparently low level of turnout?


The other issue is that when she stands in first position, she can achieve about 75-80 degree turnout in each hip/leg. I have absolutely checked that she is not compensating by turning from the knee (I know this can cause injury) and that it is full leg turnout. How is this possible with only a small amount of natural turnout?

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40-45° sounds about normal, on the generous side, for a student. The reason that such a natural turnout is able to achieve numbers approaching 180 is that the muscles controlling the rotation of the femur in the hipjoint are actively engaged, and soft tissues which surround the pelvic girdle are systematically stretched over the long course of ballet training. Remember, there's nothing normal about what a body does in ballet.

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A few years ago I took photos of my 7 year old daughter in ballet positions for an associate programme. At the time I was so naive I didn't even know what turnout was, never mind encouraging her to force it. Looking at the photos now I see she had almost flat turnout then. Is this looseness around the hip joints putting her at risk of injury or will the training she has received in the intervening 3 years developed the muscle and soft tissue as you describe?


Second question is there any advantage to having more than 180 turnout. I saw a photo of Tamara Rojo looking over turned out.



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Natural rotation is a good thing, and as long as she is being trained to use it correctly, it should not cause any problems.


Over-rotation is not a good thing. No advantage, not needed, not wanted in classical ballet. Works for gymastics and Cirque du Soleil. :)

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  • 1 month later...

I've seen this a bit late but balletbroke, I was wondering whether you meant the photo of Tamara Rojo on the RBS website where she is demonstrating to Upper School students?


If so, my friend's daughter who is in that class told us she was actually telling them not to exaggerate their turnout. Maybe the school should put a warning on photos of teachers demonstrating how NOT to do it!

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Are center splits necessary for good turnout? I always see our pro company members sitting in center splits for a long time before company class.

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Actually, good rotation is necessary for one to be able to do the center split correctly. However, young dancers should NOT work on them BEFORE classes. Unless one is naturally quite exceptionally flexible and rotated, it should not be done until thoroughly warmed up. Once a dancer is a professional, that is different because they know exactly what their bodies can and cannot do prior to class, and what they need to do.

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Thank you for the information, Ms. Leigh. My DD only works on these stretches during class. She is not "naturally quite exceptionally flexible and rotated," I would say she has worked pretty hard for these things over many years. She can do both side splits, but not center yet. Her rotation has improved over many hard years of work.


It's funny because just tonight in class the ballet mistress had a special stretching section with additonal exercises for at least 30 minutes after barre. My DD told me she was very close to her center splits after the stretching workout, so I guess she is getting there.


I wondered why company members stretch so much before barre.

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