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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Turnout troubles :(


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Hi, I am a serious ballet dancer (fifteen years old), and have been training as long as I can remember, since I was three. Ballet is my passion and joy, but lately I have been having problems with turnout.


I have always had pretty small hips, which I used to believe was a great thing, until I discovered this means I have a limited supply of turnout from my hips. For the past two or three years, I have been forcing my turnout from the knee as opposed to trying to find it from my hips. One of my teachers has told me this needs to stop as I am seriously risking a knee injury and it is throwing off my line as well (I am sticking my rear end out and not straightening my legs due to hyperextension)


However, I have found this is much easier said than done. I went to a well known summer intensive this year, where they were VERY displeased with my lack of turnout, and I found myself forcing it again due to extreme pressure for a "perfect fifth". Some of the teachers at this intensive ignored me all together due to my lack of turnout.


I have always dreamed of becoming a professional dancer, but some teachers have told me that I will never have much turnout, and that I need to find other ways to look good in class ("cheating it" was a phrase one of my teachers used). However, I did not find this very comforting at all. Other teachers seem frustrated with my lack of turnout and are no longer treating me the same way when I had forced it. Furthermore, whenever a master class is being taught by a teacher, I feel pressure to look perfect and I am embarrassed with my fifth position (my first position is a little over ninety degrees, so you can imagine how dreadful my fifth looks). Does anyone know of ways to improve a fifth position (WITHOUT forcing turnout or cheating it)? Is that even a possibility or will this always be something I will struggle with? Finally, are there well known any professional dancers without perfect turnout? Thank you so much.

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Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, tutulvr. :)


Your question is a very difficult one, because we cannot see you. Rotation has to be developed, not forced, and everyone has their own limit as to how much can be developed. While "perfect" turn out, or rotation, is not absolutely essential, very good rotation is essential. How much more you can develop at 15 depends a great deal on your training as well as your own rotational potential. Some dancers can manage to learn to make themselves look very rotated, even if they do not have a great deal of natural rotation. But your overall structure does have a major say in this, as does your training. You cannot force it, as that only results in injury. Cheating is not good either, however, learning how to really use what you have well enough to create the lines that you need for ballet is possilbe in some cases.


I wish I could be more definitive with my answer for you, but it is just not possible without being to see you and work with you.

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