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Written by Rachael Corbett BScPT, RCAMT
A ballet dancer who has near perfect turn-out is the envy of the class. Who hasn't at some point stood (or tried to stand) in 5th with the sides of their feet touching? And if you've done pointe work, turn-out is harder to cheat and you may find you're squeezing your legs and bum even harder to look good and get up over your box!
Yes, turn-out is important not only for the esthetics of ballet but also safety. Turn-out (or external rotation of the leg) should come solely from the hips. There is a little fudge room in the ankle but this is minimal. The trouble is many girls wiggle their feet out further squeeze their thighs, or drop their arches to make it look like they have more turn-out than they do Unfortunately this creates alignment problems and muscle tightness which puts them at risk for injury, especially if they are working on jumps or pointe work! Forcing movement is problematic and turn-out is no exception.
So where does turn-out come from?
The hip is a ball and socket joint with the long shaft of the leg at an angle to the joint. Lie down with your legs straight and relaxed. Slide your hands down the sides of your waist until they rest on the crest of what most people consider their hips...this is actually your pelvis! Leave the palm of your hand there and fan your fingers down and in towards your pubic bone. The ball of your hip rests about 2/3 of the way down, under your finger tips if you can reach. Rock your leg in and out, perhaps you can feel the ball rotating under your fingers?