|Resource Paper: Turnout for Dancers - Supplemental Training - Page 13|
Turnout for Dancers: Supplemental Training
Turnout can be perceived as a static position, while dancing is motion. Therefore what we want to see is that the dancer can use their turnout while moving, which often requires the hip to both internally and externally rotate. The lower leg contributes to the look of the turnout by adding five or more degrees to the ROM from the hips. However, turnout from the lower leg should not be encouraged through the practice of taking the weight off the leg, bending the knee, rotating the lower leg as much as possible, and then placing it on the floor. The attempt to straighten the legs after this process puts tremendous strain on the ligaments of the knees.
If the dancer pliés in parallel and then turns out, there should be a few more degrees of external rotation at the hip joint from slackening the muscles and ligaments that cross the hip. However, the abdominal support of the pelvis must remain vigilant so that the dancer does not attempt to increase the motion by anteriorly tilting the pelvis. In relevé, it can be even more difficult to maintain turnout and pelvic alignment. Recalling the placement of bony landmarks and other images to encourage use of core support and abdominal muscles can be effective.
Once the dancer moves from a two-foot support to one, it becomes more difficult to maintain a level pelvis due to the forces of gravity on the body in the direction of pronation or "rolling in” at the foot. The effect of this at the hip joint is slight internal rotation. However, if a neutral pelvis is maintained by the active control of the abdominals from above and the hip external rotators, adductors and deep fibers of the gluteus maximus from below, it can be nullified.
For readers interested in learning more about the underlying principles of physical conditioning, such as duration, intensity, and overload, there are excellent publications that can be consulted. There is also literature, particularly in the somatic practices, supporting approaches using awareness, whole body integration and connectedness, and imagery to assist in the neuromuscular aspects of conditioning. There are many excellent sources in the literature that can provide resources for supplementary exercises for dancers, including C-I Training™, Pilates, Ruth Solomon’s work, the Gyrotonic Expansion System®, Zena Rommett Floor-Barre™, and many more. All contain safe and thorough ways to condition and realign the body for improved technique. It is then the goal of the dancer and dance educator to transfer the newly acquired skills and improved facility from conditioning work to dance practice.
This paper may be reproduced in its entirety for educational purposes, provided acknowledgement is given to the "International Association for Dance Medicine and Science."
Copyright © 2011 IADMS, Virginia Wilmerding, Ph.D., and Donna Krasnow, M.S.