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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Stretching and turnout


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This is my first post here, so please be gentle. I have a 13 year old daughter that is having some trouble with flexibility, but only in one particular area it seems. She can do a 180 ponche, or pretty darn close when not as warm and in other types of dance can get her legs up to her ears, but the middle splits and 180 turn out just seems to be out of reach for her. She told me they stretch every day and she really works to improve but it is just not improving like the other stretches have. I asked her where she is feeling the stretch the most because I was wondering if there was a problem in her hips. She occasionally has snapping hips. She said she is feeling the stretch in her inner thigh muscles.


Can everyone get this if they work hard enough or can there be a physiology issue that is preventing progress? This is the one area that really seems to have her teachers up in arms and is holding her back. Do I just tell her to forge ahead or should she be seeing a doctor or should she just accept her limitations?

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Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, cynmckee. :)


I'm sorry that your dancer is having problems. How old is she? It sounds like she has flexibility, but has more difficulty with rotation. Not every dancer can do a middle split with 180 degree rotation, and it is not a major criteria for potential to become a dancer. Depending somewhat on her age, that ability can continue to improve and change over time, if she has good rotation but just not a perfect 180 degrees. Many dancers do not have perfect rotation, but, if she is having trouble with her hips it might be a good idea to see a physician. The problem actually could be caused, though, by trying to force her rotation beyond her current ability. Improving it takes a long time, and it cannot be forced. In other dance forms the height of the legs is not necessarily ruled by rotation the way they are in ballet. In ballet the correct alignment and usage of her rotation comes first, extensions are second, because extension without rotation does not create a line that works in ballet.

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Thank you Miss Leigh. My daughter is 13 and I'll tell her to just keep working hard at it. I think she just feels like she isn't progressing. She has some wonderful teachers who she loves but they like to stand behind her and say turnout...turnout...turnout...turnout. She said she hears it in her sleep and sometimes in her head in math class. I was wondering if it is possible to be so flexible in so many ways but struggle so much in this one.


I am not a dancer, but maybe something clicked for me. Rotation is not flexibilty, is it? She said she can rotate out but struggles to maintain the rotation. Is that a strength issue?

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Probably a strength issue, especially at that age. She is also probably growing, and during those times thing can get different for a while. The strength to maintain rotation comes from full knowledge and ability to maintain correct alignment and placement of the weight, and also not trying to take the legs too high until the rotation is there.

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