CriticalDance Forum

Improving Turn Out
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Author:  heart2dance [ Tue Jun 26, 2007 2:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Improving Turn Out

Hi, I'm new to the forum, I am looking for new ideas for helping my students with turn out. We use the usual stretches for turn out, the butterfly, the frog and the clam. I also emphasize working their turn out while doing all the barre exercises.
Does anyone have any other ideas they can share to give my students some new turn out exercises? Just curious. :D

Author:  LMCtech [ Tue Jun 26, 2007 10:17 pm ]
Post subject: 

Hi Heart2Dance, welcome.

Most of our regular Studio Moderators are on vacation right now, so I'm going to take a stab at this. It's been a while since I was teaching though, so bear with me.

Stretches are of course necessary for good turnout, but strength is too, so my suggestion is to give them some exercises that strengthen the deep rotator muscles. I can't really think of any specific exercises right now, but I think Pilates has a few that could fit the bill.

Good luck!

Author:  vrsfanatic [ Wed Jun 27, 2007 5:26 am ]
Post subject:  Turnout

The progression of ballet class is just about the best "exercise" for strengthening turnout that I can think of. If your students are not maintaining their upper and lower body placement while doing exercises, slow down the progression of the work. Working well to the side with battement tendu and jete, as well as holding the leg to the side, at 45 degrees at the end of exercises is also something to add to their work. Do not do choreographic exercises, instead do exercises constructed specifically to improve and strengthen their turnout. Improving the stability of body placement is paramount to the fundamentals of ballet.

Author:  Gina Ness [ Fri Jun 29, 2007 1:42 am ]
Post subject: 

Hello, heart2dance, and welcome to CriticalDance. vrsfanatic gives excellent advice. I always try to remind my young students that turnout must come from the hip down, not from the feet and knees up...I sometimes have them sit on the floor (using good posture, of course :) ) with their legs stretched out in front of them. First with pointed and then with flexed feet, I tell them to turn out and in, out and in, the rotation coming from their hips and the top of their legs. This gives them the feeling of where their turnout comes from...

Author:  JeannineS [ Sun Jul 01, 2007 6:48 pm ]
Post subject: 

In dance, the front of the hips needs to be very strong to hold the turn out, and as vrsfanatic said, the progression of ballet class will work your turn-out. The important thing to keep in mind is that even though you want your best turn-out, try not to compensate in your back or your knees.

Some of my students tilt their pelvis forward (lordosis) in order to achieve a better turn-out and this will gradually make other muscles tighter. Other students over-turn out and roll forward putting pressure on the knee and big toe, so basically some part will always compensate if it's overworked. You should never just go into class and throw your leg up on the barre. Try going for a 20-30 minute walk before class or vaccuum your whole house. You'll warm up gently this way. You'll probably get a tiny bit more stretch and turn-out in class.

Author:  Dean Speer [ Mon Jul 02, 2007 4:05 pm ]
Post subject: 

Often with students in the youngish range (and sometimes even older ones), while they're facing the barre in first position, I'll first pick up the arches of their feet, then I'll take their thighs in my hands, try rotating them, and then jiggle them, with a lilt in my voice, ask, "Am I'm going to feel jello or muscles?!" If they respond right, you can feel their muscles firm up right away. For some, it takes a few tries but everyone can do this.

And as soon as I feel their muscles tighten, I say "Good!" and then take my hand and gently "remind" their tummies to be in, backs long (you can simply take your fingers and "roll" them up their backs to their necks -- you can see the lengthening happening; it's wonderfully amazing), make sure heads are level, pick up their arches [again], check thighs [again] -- and then say "Now, don't forget to breathe!"

There is a lot to check with each student but as they "get" a correct stance and posture, it's definitely worth it. I've found too that once they do get this, then all I have to do is spot check them -- little reminders that can eventually become mostly hands-off and even non-verbal such as my looking at someone, pointing to my own elbow and then lifting it, or taking my fingers and knitting my own rib cage together, or pointing at someone's feet and say "arches" -- they know exactly what to check and how to fix it (sometimes, yes, with a little help and fine-tuning).

And as we know, it takes a whole lot longer to put this into print or even to verbally explain it than the quick few seconds it takes to actually implement. 8)

Author:  ingve [ Thu Aug 09, 2007 1:42 am ]
Post subject: 


a very healthy way to work on your turn out is to let your students do floor barre. There are many certified teachers out there who can help you. The advantage of this technique is that you work your turnout purely in your muscles and the danger of slipping in knee damaging habbits etc. are reduced if not taken away.



Author:  PilatesMonique [ Tue Sep 29, 2009 6:54 am ]
Post subject:  pilates help with turnout

While young dancer’s bodies are still forming it is extremely important to develop their turnout in a safe and structured way. Although stretching plays an important role it needs to be done carefully and more importantly it needs to be done in conjunction with a strengthening programme.

Vrsfanatic is right in saying that ballet class is the best way to improve turnout. I would like to add that Pilates and floor barre exercises are a wonderful way to compliment class in increasing strength that will support turnout. (thanks to LMCtech for mentioning this previously)

The clam or the shell will help strengthen the ‘turnout muscles’; Advise the student to lay on their right side, with their knees bent so that their feet are in line with their sitting bones, their back straight as though they were lying against a wall. On an exhale, ask the student to first draw their navel into their spine (pull their tummy in) and float the left knee up towards the ceiling, keeping the feet pressing together, and then close the left knee back down to meet the right knee. Ask them to imagine there is a pencil on the tip of their knee and they are trying to make as big an arch with the pencil as possible – drawing a large arch shape in the air. Watch that they are activating their tummy muscles with each “clam” to keep their torso still. Repeat 10 times each side.

As well as directly strengthening the turnout muscles, the dance student needs to have a strong centre and inside thighs and hamstrings. If you have access to a good pilates instructor that has dance knowledge, I would advise the student to see them for a few sessions at least so they get an understanding of how to work and control their turnout.

Author:  Gina Ness [ Sun Oct 04, 2009 1:29 am ]
Post subject: 

Greetings, PilatesMonique, and welcome to CriticalDance. This is such good advice. I actually do clams on a regular basis. It's one of my favorite exercises that a PT advised for me to do after I had knee surgery and resulting stress in my hips from walking on crutches two years ago. I just visited Oberlin Dance Collective in San Francisco last Friday. I was so impressed with the Pilates center there that is such an integral part of the studio. Fortunate dancers!

Author:  lucaspolan [ Wed Mar 03, 2010 1:24 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Improving Turn Out

This energy shooting downward will improve your balance in turnout.

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