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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Are my knees hyperextended?


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Don't know if this is the right place for this (sorry in advance if it is) but I'm trying to understand whether my knees hyperextend or not. I read Clara76's sticky about alignment but I don't know if the hyperextension part applies to me and my legs. Do I just have overdeveloped quads or do my knees push too far back. This picture is with me straightening my knees to the fullest that I can.




Also I know it's a big no-no to lock your knees when standing but I'm having a hard time figuring out whether that applies to the working (non weight bearing leg). Say you're doing a developpé to the side (or any direction), do you allow yourself to fully straighten to the absolute "locked" fullest?

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Guest Pas de Quoi
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It's hard to tell from a photo, particularly one in profile & parallel. Generally hyperextension shows when you're in a turned out first position, and you can't easily have your heels touching if the insides of your knees are touching.


But to me, you don't look hyperextended.


It looks to me as though your weight is too far back, and you're not fully pulling up through the front of the hips, but as I said, it's hard to tell from a photo, particularly in a position that's not first.

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Let me see if I can take a photo in first position. Pas de Quoi, thanks for the tip about "reaching" for the longest line possible. It's definitely something I'll have to practice since for me, personally, my reflex is just to lock back (not good at all!).

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The thing about locking back is that it distorts your alignment, encourages sitting back, losing the straight up alignment through the pelvis, puts too much weight in your heels, and can contribute to overdevelopment of the quadriceps muscles. You say you're worried about 'overdeveloped thighs' so it's important to get your weight forward.


Edited to add: I tend to lock back -- I'm not hyperextended but I can make my knees go very flat. I double check my weight distribution by rising to demi-pointe at certain points in exercises at the barre -- I've been encouraged to do so by my teachers. "Check your weight" or "check your balance" is something they often say.

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I think I'm hyperextended. At least that's what the teacher says. If I make sure my heels are touching, I always feel like my knees are bent. Plus, my bony pelvis is pretty wide, so my thighs take a pretty steep angle into my knees, which means that when my knees are touching, there's a really ugly gap between my thighs that I CANNOT get rid of.


But if my femurs were closer together due to a narrower pelvis, I think my heels would be a foot apart, LOL!

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Ok so here are two new pictures in first position






I have a ways to go as far as pulling in and turnout are concerned but first things first I want to keep my knees safe ;-)

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Nope- not hyperextended to an extreme degree. You're not lifting off enough out of your hips, which is why you can't close your heels. You should be able to close your heels as you begin to really focus on lift-off.



Yes, you are hyperextended. Have you read my stickies about that?

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This is where working the turnout is important. And I think it's Clara and Ms Leigh who've taught me (virtually!) to use the term "working turnout" as they say it's an active process, not a fixed position.


There are a couple of exercises I've done in class, given by a teacher to help beginners get a sense of where they should be in first position, and which always help me to remember the process of turning out:

1. stand in first with heels together and in a small demi-plié, with pelvis in the neutral position, and then very slowly straighten your legs, bringing your knees together, while pulling up /lifting out of your hips


2. forward port de bras in first, when you're nose to knee, a small demi plié, and then roll up, straightening back and knees together, using the rolling up feeling and movement to straighten the legs and bring knees together.


I had one teacher who was very big on getting us to breathe out on the effortful movements, and that really does help.

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Redbookish, I'll definitely try those tips out to help with my alignment and placement. Those definitely are helpful.


Clara76, you mentioned not hyperextended to an extreme degree. Does that mean I still hyperextend slightly over what's supposed to be a straight line? From the knees perspective (because I know there's other stuff going on alignment-wise), should I ease up a little bit on how far back I'm pushing them or is the photograph fine in terms of how straight they are?


Thank you so much everybody for your advice, expertise, tips. This forum is truly invaluable as I begin my journey back into the world of ballet.

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