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  • Writer's picture Alison Hollingsworth

Your Best Turnout

Even the title gives away my view on turnout. Every single person has different turnout and we should only be concerned with ours. In other words, do not judge your turnout as compared to someone else's. Work with what you have to make it the best that you can be.

There are three main components to turnout. Those are anatomy restrictions, strength, and flexibility. The anatomy is simply your hip structure. This will largely define your best turnout. Anatomy restrictions refer to the structure of the hip socket, thigh bone angle, thigh bone head shape, and ligament elasticity. These cannot be changed regardless how hard you work. Attempting to go beyond what your body was meant to do can result in injury. It is generally a unique set of aspects that truly makes the turnout you!

When we look at things that might help you improve to reach and use your best turnout we look to strength and flexibility of the hip muscles and tendons. Turnout comes from the hip but uses muscles throughout the whole hip and leg to control it. Even if a dancer was blessed with great turnout, the strength to use it properly and flexibility to maintain it must be achieved. There are some great exercises for strengthening turnout. If you have had a conditioning class with me these will look familiar. Side lying clam. While lying on your side place a band above the knees and bring the knees up to where you have a 90 degree angle to thigh and torso. Keeping your heels together, open and close the legs like a clam without rolling backwards at all. I like to do 20 reps. But this might be something that you need to gradually reach. Another is standing Passé turn in and turn out. This is just as it sounds. Very deliberately and slowly turn in and out. If you are able, use a resistance band secured to a barre or fixed surface and attached to the passé leg to add resistance to the turn in and out. Rond de Jamb with resistance. Using the same resistance band as before put it around both ankles and execute a slow Rond de Jamb really feeling the rotation in the working leg in each position. As you are doing these standing exercises make sure you are on top of the standing leg- good pelvic alignment. If your hip alignment is tilted at all you will not be able to access your best turnout. Think high in the font of the hip. Our teacher Naomi Shadix is quite fond of Penguin Walks. Using your best turnout and being high in the hips take tiny little steps forward and backwards in first position. At lastly you need to be very diligent about the way you use your turnout in class. Always be rotating within the hip socket. So often we get hung up on leg height or choreography that we forget to focus on the turnout. Working your best turnout class after class at barre will help build the strength you need to control it center. Be patient with yourself and set realistic goals. With diligent work inside and out of the studio you will see improvement.

Now that you have used some strengthening exercises you need to stretch it out. We need to make sure we stretch glutes, TFL (tensor fasciae latae- located in outside hip), hamstring, inner thigh, and hip flexors/abs. For glutes a great stretch is lying on your back with one ankle on top of other knee and pull that structure toward your chest or attitude on the barre and lean forward. For our TFL a side lean needs to occur. We can do this standing in parallel, cross one foot over the other and port de bras sideways that same direction or in a kneeing lunge also leaning to the side. I think we all know good hamstring stretches. Inner thigh can be stretched in straddle stretch on the ground or in second on the barre. And last but certainly not least, hip flexors! The kneeling stretch mentioned above will also get the hip flexor. If you can add a little tail bone tuck it will really access the hip flexor. This one can be extreme so approach it very carefully.

I would be happy to show you in person any of these exercises or stretches so we make sure they are being done correctly. Remember safety comes first. If something doesn't feel right stop! I can help you find the routine that works best of your body.

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