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Ballet Talk for Dancers

How should turn-out feel?


Mazenderan

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I know this might sound like a rather silly question, but I want to make sure that I'm doing things properly.

 

I've recently started attending a lower-level class where the teacher is a real stickler for form and alignment. Her corrections have introduced me to an entirely new feeling when I'm in turn-out. Usually, I can't really feel anything - maybe some slight tension at my piriformis. Now, when I stand in turn-out in this class, I feel 'held' or supported around the lower half of my buttocks, hips, and tops of my thighs - almost like I'm corseted there, or there is some sort of thick elastic wrapped around this area. This feeling stays there when I tendu, etc. Is this how it should feel when I'm holding my turn-out properly? Also, I can feel my inner thighs working much more in this class.

 

I've also noticed that this shorter and lower-level class requires substantially more effort and is much more tiring than my longer intermediate class. I'm starting to get frustrated that in my intermediate class I can't 'get' the same feeling (painful and tiring as it is! :shrug: ) that I get in my 'easier' class, even though the intermediate steps and combinations are technically harder. My teacher in my intermediate class tells me that I'm holding my turn-out - so why can't I feel it? :blink:

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Having never worn a corset, thank goodness, I cannot relate to the feeling of a corset. I can only imagine and this is not a feeling I can relate to, in terms of turn out. Lower level class are more difficult to take for dancers who have more knowledge than most. There are many resaons for this. One could be that the more advanced dancer is able to focus and isolate muscle groupings more than "beginners". This can be good and bad. Certainly in conjunction with continued study of more advanced levels, it can work quite well.

 

As for the "feeling" of turn out, more experienced students will be able to feel the separation of the upper leg (front, side and back of the thigh) from the buttocks and pelvis. Lower level classes are a good place to explore this feeling. I describe a stretching and lengthening with the ability to actually turn the upper legs in the hip sockets. This turning of the supporting and working legs is able to be felt when done correctly, weight bearing and without being weight bearing. For me, if one feels corseted, there is more to be done so as not to sit. The only time I have felt corseted was when I was tucking under which is not a good thing. Turn out to me, feels totally free. When I ask my students who have accomplished correct placement of the body and turn out to describe the feeling, they agree, "total freedom". Often they say they did not know they could stretch and pull up so much. Correct body placement actually allows more freedom of movement rather than a feeling of "being stuck" as I imagine I would feel in a corset. :blink:

 

As for working the inner thighs, what do you actually mean by this and what is the inner thigh to you? :shrug:

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Hi vrsfanatic :shrug:

 

This class is definitely much more demanding than my other class - I think that my form can slip when confronted with more difficult combinations, whereas I can really push my muscles, as you say, during simpler work.

 

I would definitely describe the sensation as 'held' rather than 'free'

 

By my inner thigh muscles, I think I mean my adductors? By working, I mean I can actually 'feel' effort in them, whereas usually I don't feel anything there.

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Feeling the inner thighs working is not a problem, but feeling "corsetted" is very much a problem. Correct alignment, placement and rotation should make you feel free, not restricted. Please check to be sure that your weight is not back in your heels, and/or that you are not "tucking" under.

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Guest Pas de Quoi

I agree with both Ms. Leigh and vrsfanatic: In order to dance, one must be able to move and one cannot move if one feels constricted, as described above. The reason we "turn out" is to help us achieve a greater range of motion and not limit what we are able to do, as classically trained dancers.

 

Movements, correctly executed, should never feel heavy, but should "reach" from a well-placed center to achieve the longest line possible, whether that movement be a port de bras, a grand battement, a glissade, etc.

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Oh dear, I had hoped that the increased difficulty and feeling of 'support' meant I was doing things properly :)

 

My weight might be back. My teacher has corrected me a couple of times by making me (what felt to me) lean forwards. If we go into any kind of balance at the barre (retire, etc), my weight is more likely to be slightly back than anything else. I sometimes find it difficult to pull up as hard as I can without my weight going back on my heels.

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I sometimes find it difficult to pull up as hard as I can without my weight going back on my heels.

 

That is a major issue, and sounds like a misunderstanding of how to move your weight over your supporting leg to find your center at a different level, like demi pointe or pointe. It's never a matter of "leaning" anywhere, it's a matter of moving your weight over your feet. If the body weight is centered in a line down to the heels, there is no way not to fall back. It's called gravity! The further away from the ground you go the more your weight must move forward and upward, away from the pull of gravity. :)

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Thank-you Miss Leigh. Class tonight confirmed (our teacher tonight liked many balances at the barre) that my weight always seems to be back. Your explanation of moving my weight over my feet - instead of leaning - makes more sense to me, and when I tried it this evening my centre of balance felt 'higher' (more up at my chest than my hips, if that makes sense). I'll definitely work on this in class, thank-you. :grinning:

 

I think the 'restricted' feeling might be to do with the muscles at the outside of my thigh 'grabbing' at the movement. I have to push through this and work really hard to get my inner thighs to work at all. The problem is that when I work very hard, bad alignment things happen - like arching my back and splaying my ribs.

 

Basically, I'm a nightmarish caricature of misalignment! :rolleyes:

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........and when I tried it this evening my centre of balance felt 'higher' (more up at my chest than my hips, if that makes sense). I'll definitely work on this in class, thank-you. :o

 

 

 

hello, well I am not a ballet teacher but I just wanted to say that I had a modern teacher that continually harped on us about having our weight centred in our **PELVIS**. Apparently that is one of the keys to becoming a good dancer is to move from the pelvis, not the chest or shoulders. I had that idea pounded into me for months. I can't say what it is for ballet but my impression from what the modern teacher was saying was that moving from the pelvis is required for all genres of dance.

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I have a little bit of a problem with that for ballet, addy. Yes, the pelvic placement is very important, but that is not the center of the body for movement. Maybe it works for modern, but I don't know. It does not work for ballet.

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Sounds like Graham technique to me. There are some very good and useful ideas that work well for both Graham and ballet, but as Ms. Leigh notes, that one doesn't quite translate.

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I've found that learning to align my bones with the least effort necessary has helped a lot to advance in my technique. It's really all about optimum alignment and energy patterns with the least resistance.

 

I have always struggled with turnout, but I feel I use it well (at the barre at least...for now). I rarely have taken barre facing the mirror straight front for a while, and was actually shocked a few months back when I had to. OMG. The turnout is actually reasonably better!!!

 

It feels like I'm really just rotating the head of my leg in the hip socket. I've always had really weak turnout muscles, problems with sinking into hyperextension, etc... It took a LONG time for me to even start to feel this. I get jealous sometimes of dancers who can understand, and feel it at the same time. I feel like my body has been so slow to adapt:)

 

Yeah, when it's "right" it really does feel free from anything else going on in the upper body. It's nice!!!

 

edited to add....I've been working on standing leg for about two years. Just really trying to focus on rotating that standing leg:) The "working" one's always been able to do it. The supporting one...blech... Need to work on both. LOL!

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I'm a student like you and had simular issues and this is what an old ballet master -with a thick accent- told me and it helped: To turn out, you have to get your weight off your hips. Divide your body in half at the waist. Invision the upper half sitting on a platform. With your lower abs- lift the platform as high as you can. To be balanced, your hips have to be over your arches. When you go up on half toe, your arches move forwards and upwards. So must your hips.

Hope that helps. It stopped me from 1)arching back when trying to pull up and 2)sitting back in my heels when trying to relevé.

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I have a little bit of a problem with that for ballet, addy. Yes, the pelvic placement is very important, but that is not the center of the body for movement. Maybe it works for modern, but I don't know. It does not work for ballet.

 

I think it's interesting, but I know that if I tried to work with that imagery I would start to 'sit' in my hips in an attempt to 'feel' my pelvis.

 

I've always had really weak turnout muscles, problems with sinking into hyperextension, etc... It took a LONG time for me to even start to feel this. I get jealous sometimes of dancers who can understand, and feel it at the same time. I feel like my body has been so slow to adapt:)

 

This is me so much! I can't feel whatever I'm supposed to feel.

 

I'm a student like you and had simular issues and this is what an old ballet master -with a thick accent- told me and it helped: To turn out, you have to get your weight off your hips. Divide your body in half at the waist. Invision the upper half sitting on a platform. With your lower abs- lift the platform as high as you can. To be balanced, your hips have to be over your arches. When you go up on half toe, your arches move forwards and upwards. So must your hips.

Hope that helps. It stopped me from 1)arching back when trying to pull up and 2)sitting back in my heels when trying to relevé.

 

It feels good when I lift off my hips - I just have to remember the other things you mention and not arch my back when I pull up.

 

If it helps anyone else, I went for PT because I have been experiencing pain in my hip (unsurprisingly - given that I've clearly been doing things wrong! :D ) I have not been working my glutes properly. The muscles I should use are weak and overloaded, the ones I shouldn't use are overworked and tight, my abs are awol - and the whole region is a bit of a disaster. So, this probably explains why my turn-out sensation has been incorrect.

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....To be balanced, your hips have to be over your arches. When you go up on half toe, your arches move forwards and upwards. So must your hips.

Hope that helps. It stopped me from 1)arching back when trying to pull up and 2)sitting back in my heels when trying to relevé.

thank you for this, I really like that- "hips over arches"

 

 

 

 

....... The muscles I should use are weak and overloaded, the ones I shouldn't use are overworked and tight, ....

 

 

hello Mazenderan, I wonder if the PT named the muscles?

Also, I wonder how can a muscle be weak and overloaded- especially the ones you "should" be using (implying that you aren't using them). I mean, if you aren't using them, wouldn't they be Underloaded? which would explain why they are weak?

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