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Increase Ballet Turnout For Your Work In Ballet Toe Shoes

What Is Your Potential For Ballet Turnout?

Some dancer’s thighs are in a different position in their hip sockets, which allows more turnout.  And, the hip socket itself can be slanting a little forward, allowing less turnout, or more to the side, allowing for more turnout. You are born with a specific hip socket and thigh shape.  So don’t look at anyone else and compare.

Also some lower legs have tibial torsion, which means their leg from the knee down is rotated outward. It may lead to other problems, but will give the feet a turned out look, while the knees and thighs may not be able to achieve the same turnout.

Now more importantly, how do you hold the ballet turnout that you do have….if you watch dance movies carefully you will see that the most brilliantly artistic dancers in the world are not necessarily born with a lot of turnout – and it doesn’t matter! They are still brilliant.

Your lateral rotator muscles are your prime turnout muscles, specifically:

  • Piriformis;Obturator Internus;
  • Obturator Externus;
  • Quadratus Femoris; Gemellus Superior;
  • Gemellus Inferior.

These muscles lie underneath your gluts, your “big butt” muscles. When they contract your thigh rotates. If your leg is behind you, the gluts and hamstring muscles also help to hold the rotation.

The balance and tone of any muscle comes from its ability to work, and its ability to relax when not working. So having lateral rotators that clench to rotate, and don’t relax in between exercises, do not have the strength they could have. Turning in during class, in between exercises, is a good habit.

When you tendu devant, if your hips remain in placement and your thigh is moving freely on its own, you should be able to rotate to your full natural turnout, even if you cannot always hold it. You may have to practice this with your gluts released, to isolate the rotator muscles.

Gluts don’t increase ballet turnout.

If you sit on the floor, legs straight out in front of you, relax your gluts on the floor.

  • engage your rotator muscles and turn your thighs out without your gluts working.
  • this will help you isolate the rotators.
  • raise one leg  an inch or two off the floor, and hold this turnout,
  • you’ll feel the rotators holding against the flexion action.
  • if your hip comes up too, then you are working the gluts – drop the hip down, holding your turnout
  • you have achieved successful isolation of the rotator muscles!

Here is a book every serious dancer should have, by Valerie Grieg:

Ballet technique turnout

Learn about ballet turnout


There are exercises to test your turnout and increase your strength for it in The Perfect Pointe Book.



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