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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Testing natural levels of rotation?


swantobe

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I was wondering if there is a way to test one's natural level of rotation in the hip socket? Would my physiotherapist (who has worked with ballet dancers before) be able to help me with this?

As an adult student I know that there's only so much I can do to change the way my joints already are (in terms of oscification of bones), but I'd like to know what my potential is in terms of rotation/turnout so that I can work on controlling it and working it to the best of my ability.

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Hi Swantobe, well I am sure you are more experienced than I am but what I do is stand up and lift one leg slightly off the floor, then rotate the leg at the hip socket as far as it will go- there is a very definite maximum- for me it is about 55 degrees from the front (or multiply by 2=110 degrees.) though I maintain at more like 40 degrees.

 

In the book "Dance Anatomy and Kinesiology" by Karen Clippenger, on page 197, there is described "Screening Test for Hip Turnout". The dancer lies on her stomache and the other person uses a "goniometer" to measure. I can type it all out if you need me to- let me know.

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Hi Swantobe, I know that on one of the Finis dvd's that I have got he talks about finding your maximum natural turnout, I would have to re-watch it to remember exactly, but what I do remember was something like this....

 

stand with your feet together lift the right foot up a bit in front of you, turn it out and place it on the floor, repeat with the left keeping both knees straight throughout, okay so you wont get a measurement by degrees, but you will know what it feels like to be at your max...

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There are several different ways of measuring your maximum level of turnout at that moment. The problem is that those methods are not so good at getting to your maximum potential turnout. They are not the same thing.

 

The thing I think we can say is that with steady practice (i.e., taking a lot of classes) and use of the turnout you have, the amount of turnout you have will increase at least up to about 9-10 years of serious practice. At that time, you’ve come close to your maximum possible amount of turnout.

 

Personally I think the amount of turnout you have is nothing. Using your turnout is everything.

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Personally I think the amount of turnout you have is nothing. Using your turnout is everything.

 

 

This might be a really stupid question, but what exactly is meant by "using your turnout"? :)

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Have you ever tried standing on rotating discs? they are circular things that you can stand on (one foot on each disc) and you turn out on them. They can really show you your turn out because you cant cheat on them. I had a ballet teacher who also taught pilates and sometimes she would have us do plies on them in first second and fourth, it was so hard! If you want to see your natural rotation then I would really suggest trying them out!

 

http://www.pilatessanfrancisco.com/blog/wp...5/100_1666s.jpg

 

thats what they look like^

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Do these disks tell you if you're using the muscles to hold the turnout? Is that what you mean?

 

I'd love to give it a try!

 

As an adult, my turnout has increased from almost nothing to about 80% of what it was at the time I broke my back (at the hip level, affected everything in that area!). That's with good, hard work and some great teachers showing me effective ways to use it.

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Using your turnout simply means using (i.e., contracting) your outward rotator muscles in both legs as you go through the various ballet movements. An example would be rotating both legs outward as much as you can during a barre tendu exercise. We humans being naturally lazy tend to outwardly rotate somewhat, but not as much as we can, during an exercise.

 

Some time take an “easier” class (so you don’t have to think hard about remembering the combinations) and in every single exercise you do think only of outwardly rotating both legs as much as you can while doing the class exercises. If you do that, you will know what it means to use your turnout.

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In the book "Dance Anatomy and Kinesiology" by Karen Clippenger, on page 197, there is described "Screening Test for Hip Turnout". The dancer lies on her stomache and the other person uses a "goniometer" to measure. I can type it all out if you need me to- let me know.

 

Deborah Vogel uses a similar method with the dancer laying on the stomach with the legs extended. Bending one leg upward at the knee, she then has the dancer drop the leg so as to cross behind the extended leg. Most people only have a natural rotation of about 45 degrees on each leg for both inward and outward rotation. Her video Analyzing Turnout shows this as well as exercises to increase the range of motion in the hip.

 

As a teacher, I would not recommend plies in fourth position on the disks. Fourth position causes torque in the knee joints and is much harder to control the correct pelvic placement.

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Thank you, Garyecht, for the explanation.

 

Swantobe, you asked if your physiotherapist would be able to help you determine your turnout potential. Yes, he or she could perform a few simple tests to get an idea of your turnout and even the structure of your femur (anteverted vs retroverted). The nice thing about the physio doing the measuring is that she can make certain the hip stays stable during the exam. She can also measure how much more rotation you are capable of with application of gentle overpressure.

 

Hope this helps!

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I agree that it's far more important to working on one's rotation, rather than dwelling on how much natural rotation there actually is.

 

I think it's really important to concentrate (especially in barre work...where technique really starts to get built), on the "standing leg" in one-footed movements. Concentrating on actively rotating the supporting leg and being correctly placed had done wonders for my stability.

 

This comes from someone with very little natural rotation. I have hyperextended legs that always want to rotate IN when I'm working, so it's always been a struggle:) I really concentrate on rotating all the time in simple work, and do, in fact, see improvement little by little overall when I'm doing harder stuff:)

 

I don't worry too much that my turnout isn't "perfect" for ballet. It's average, and good enough if I keep concentrating on using it correctly to get the freedom of movement and stability that's necessary to make dance look pretty:)

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I can understand wanting a definite answer about the potential there is, especially when getting pushed a lot by teachers to improve it. I feel like I know where my limit is and I do have some strength issues maintaining it all the time, especially on my perennially weaker left side, but some days barre can be frustrating when a teacher feels like you have more but I just can't without torquing my knees which I'm obviously not going to do. It's enough to start doubting myself and think there's something wrong. I'm open to help if indeed I can get more rotation, but so far haven't had a teacher that flipped the magical switch :)

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