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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Mild to Moderate Femoral Anteversion


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My DD, age 9, has been taking ballet since age 5. When she was a toddler, she walked pigeon toed, and it has gotten better over the years. She sometimes still turns in slightly with one foot when she walks, but not all of the time. She has always loved to dance though--it seems like she was born to dance, and she would live at the ballet studio if she could.


Last year, I took her to a pediatric orthopedic surgeon for an evaluation. DD is homeschooled, so I wanted her to get screened for scoliosis. Dr. said her back was perfectly fine. I mentioned the in -toeing, and he diagnosed her with a mild to moderate femoral anteversion. She was age 8 at the time, and he said that she probably wouldn't grow out of it much more than she already has.


When I watch her in ballet class during parent observation days, she doesn't look any different from the other girls in her Level 2 (for ages 9 and up) class. Of course, I am not a dancer or dance teacher, so I'm not trained what to look for. She doesn't have 180 degree turnout, but neither do most of the other girls in her class. (She attends a small, but reputable, pre-pro ballet only academy that teaches Vaganova, and she takes three 1.5 hr. technique classes per week. ) I do see the teachers correcting her turnout, but they do that with everybody.


I know that by age 12, it's no longer possible to increase the turnout of the hip joint. What about between the ages of 9 and 12? Since the doctor visit last year, she has tripled her technique class hours, and her butterfly and frog are better. If she works hard over the next three years, is it possible to improve the natural turnout? I know dancing is more than just turnout, but it seems to me that she has almost everything else going for her, at least by what can be seen at this early age. Her goal at the moment is to go on pointe when she is ready (She knows that is probably several years away.) Have there been instances of girls with this degree of femoral anteversion who have safely gone on pointe and have been able to dance at the upper levels of school?

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Yes, it is possible, and many dancers with less rotation have been able to improve it dramatically with learning how to USE it to the best of their ability. And, this can continue well beyond 12. While the actual degree of rotation might not improve a lot, the ability to use it to her maximum can. But it also cannot be done by forcing that rotation to the point where it distorts anything or causes pronation/rolling of the knees and ankles. She has to really learn how to use the rotation from her hips correctly, and this takes time, growth, maturity. It would help if she would correct the even sometime pigeon-toed thing, which can be habitual rather than necessary.

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Thank you, Ms. Leigh. This is encouraging.


When DD and I are out and about, we have a code. If I notice her foot turning in, I say "Quack, Quack" as a reminder for her to turn it out. It's silly, but she prefers it over "DD, turn your foot out.". On the bright side, I don't have to quack as much as I did last year.

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