Who Was Rudolf Nureyev?

Rudolf Nureyev

If you do ballet then you probably don’t need to ask ‘who was Rudolf Nureyev,’ as anyone who has been dancing for some time has heard of this famous male dancer.

So Who Was Rudolf Nureyev?

Rudolf Nureyev is regarded as one of the greatest male ballet dancers of the 20th century.

Rudolf Nureyev History

Rudolf Nureyev was born on the Trans-Siberian train near Pysinky, Irkutsk on the 17th of March 1938. His mother Farida was traveling to Vladivostok where his father Hamat who was a Red Army political commissar was stationed.

Rudolf was then raised as the only son in a Tatar family in a village near Ufa in the Soviet Republic of Bashkiria.

When his mother smuggled him and his sisters into a performance of the ballet Song of the Cranes, he fell in love with dance.

As a child he was encouraged to dance in Bashkir folk performances and his talents were soon noticed by teachers who encouraged him to train in Leningrad.

who was Rudolf NureyevOn a tour stop in Moscow with a local ballet company, Nureyev auditioned for the Bolshoi ballet company and was accepted. However, he felt that the Kirov Ballet School was the best, so he left the local touring company and bought a ticket to Leningrad.

Due to the disruption of the Soviet cultural life during World War II, Nureyev was unable to enroll in a major ballet school until 1955 when he was 17 years old. This is when he was accepted by the Leningrad Choreographic School which was the associate school of the Kirov Ballet.

Despite the fact that he had such a late start, he was soon recognized as an incredibly gifted dancer. He pushed himself hard rehearsing for hours in order to make up for the years of training that he missed.

Under the tutelage of a great teacher, Alexander Pushkin, he blossomed. Pushkin not only took an interest in him professionally, but also allowed the younger dancer to live with him and his wife.

Upon graduation, the Kirov and the Bolshoi both wanted to sign him, but he continued with the Kirov and went on to become a soloist, which is extremely unusual for someone of his age and experience.

In his three years with the Kirov, he danced fifteen roles mainly with partner Ninel Kurgapkira with whom he was very well pared, even though she was almost a decade older than he was.

Rudolf Nureyev became one of the Soviet Union’s best-known dancers, in a country which revered the ballet and made national heroes of its stars. Soon he was enjoying the rare privilege of travel outside of the Soviet Union, when he danced in Vienna at the international Youth Festival.

Not long after that for disciplinary reasons, he was told he would not be allowed to go abroad again.Rudolf Nureyev

In 1961 the Kirov’s leading male dancer, Konstantin Sergeyev was injured and at the last minute Nureyev was chosen to replace him on the Kirov’s European tour.

In Paris his performances electrified audiences and critics, but he broke the rules about mingling with foreigners and allegedly frequented gay bars in Paris, which alarmed the Kirov’s management. The KGB wanted to send him back to the Soviet Union immediately.

He was then told that he would not travel with the company to London to continue the tour because he was needed to dance at a special performance in the Kremlin. Rudolf Nureyev believed that if he returned to the U.S.S.R., he would most likely be imprisoned due to the fact that KGB agents had been investigating him for being gay.

It has been the more popular and accepted belief that he ‘leaped to freedom’ in order to be a ‘free artist,’ though many of Nureyev’s private accounts, as well as the accounts of many of his close friends tell that he stayed in the west due to the dire consequences of being gay in the Soviet Union.

On June the 17th, 1961 at the Le Bourget Airport in Paris, Rudolf Nureyev defected.

Within a week he was signed up by the Grand Ballet Du Marquis de Cuevas and was performing the Sleeping Beauty with Nina Vyroubova.

His dramatic defection, outstanding technique, exotic looks and his astonishing charisma on stage made him an international star. His defection also gave him the personal freedom he had been denied in the Soviet Union.

On Tour in Denmark, he met Erik Bruhn, a dancer ten years older than him and they became lovers. Erik was also his closest friend and his protector for many years. Bruhn was also the director of the Royal Swedish Ballet from 1967 to 1972 and Ballet Director of the Paris Opera Ballet from 1983 to 1989.

Rudolf Nureyev petitioned the Soviet Government for many years to be allowed to visit his mother to whom he remained very close, but he was not allowed to do so until 1989 when his mother was dying. During this visit even with his diminished physical ability, he was invited to dance in Leningrad. This visit gave him the opportunity to see many of the teachers and colleagues he had not seen since his defection, including his first ballet teacher in Ufa.

The Perfect Partnership

who was Rudolf Nureyev

Nureyev’s first appearance in Britain was at a ballet matinee organized by the Royal Ballet’s Prima Ballerina Dame Margot Fonteyn. This event was held in aid of the Royal Academy of Dance, a classical ballet teaching organization of which she was the President.

He danced Poeme Tragique, which was a heavily symbolic solo choreographed by Frederick Ashton and he brought the house to its feet in the Black Swan pas de deux from Swan Lake.

Nureyev was so well-received by London audiences that Dame Ninette de Valois offered him a contract to join the Royal Ballet as Principal Dancer.

His first appearance with the company was partnering Margot Fonteyn in Giselle on the 21 of February 1962. Fonteyn and Nureyev went on to form what became known as the perfect partnership which became perhaps the most famous partnership in modern theater history, despite Nureyev being 19 years younger than Fonteyn.

They danced together for many years and their last performance together was in Baroque Pas de Trois on the 16th of September 1988, Fonteyn was 69 and Nureyev was 50.

Together they transformed such cornerstone ballets like Swan Lake and Gizelle. They also premiered in Sir Frederick Ashton’s ballet Marguerite and Armand, which was a ballet danced to Liszt’s B minor piano sonata, and this became their signature piece.

Between them they always completely sold out the house, and this led to some injustice, notably when Kenneth Macmillan was forced to allow them to premier in his Romeo and Juliet. Between them they always received upwards of 20 curtain calls together.

Nureyev stayed with the Royal Ballet until 1970, when he was promoted to Principle Guest Artist, enabling him to concentrate on his increasing schedule of international guest appearances and tours. He continued performing regularly with the Royal Ballet until he committed to the Paris Opera Ballet in the 1980’s.

In 1982, Nureyev became a naturalized citizen of Austria and in 1983, he was appointed director of the Paris Opera Ballet, where, as well as directing, he continued to dance and to promote the younger dancers.

He remained there as a dancer and chief choreographer until 1989. Among the dancers he groomed were Sylvie Guillem, Isabelle Guérin, Manuel Legris, Elisabeth Maurin, Élisabeth Platel, Charles Jude, and Monique Loudières.

His artistic directorship of the Paris Opera Ballet was a great success as he lifted the ballet company out of a dark period. His version of The Sleeping Beauty remains in the Company’s repertoire and was revived and filmed later with his protégé Manuel Legris in the lead.

Despite his advancing illness towards the end of his tenure, he worked tirelessly, staging new versions of old standbys and commissioning some of the most ground-breaking choreographic works of his time. His own version of Romeo and Juliet was a huge success.

When he was sick towards the end of his life, he worked on a final production of La Bayadère which closely follows the Mariinsky Ballet version that he danced as a young man.

When AIDS appeared in France’s news around 1982, Nureyev took little notice. He tested positive for HIV in 1984, but for several years he simply denied that anything was wrong with his health. However, by the late 1980s his diminished capabilities disappointed his admirers who had fond memories of his outstanding prowess and skill.

Nureyev began a marked decline only in the summer of 1991 and entered the final phase of the disease in the spring of 1992.

Nureyev re-entered the hospital Notre Dame Du Perpétuel Secours in Levallois-Perret on 20 November 1992 and remained there until his death from AIDS complications at age 54 on 6 January 1993.

His funeral was held in the marble foyer of the Paris Garnier Opera House. Many paid tributes to his brilliance as a dancer. Oleg Vinogradov of the Mariinsky Ballet, stated “What Nureyev did in the West, he could never have done here.”

After so many years of having been denied a place in the Mariinsky Ballet’s history, Nureyev’s reputation was restored and his name was reentered in the history of the Mariinsky. Some of his personal effects were placed on display at the theater museum in what is now St. Pietersburg.

Competitive Dance Competitions – The Good And The Bad!

competitive dance competitions

In this post I want to look at competitive dance competitions, who should be doing them and if there are any advantages to taking part in these.

Competitive Dance Competitions have been around forever, but in recent years there has been a huge spike in these competitions with more and more of them opening every year.

In the past our studio has always taken part in our local annual competition and our dancers have enjoyed both positive and negative experiences, but luckily more positive as they have gotten a glimpse into the professional world of dance and can compare their own progress with others from all over the city in similar age groups.

Many professional dancers speak of how competitive dance competitions gave them some life-changing opportunities in the form of bursaries to continue their dance education or places in prestigious dance schools or companies.

It’s Not Just About Winning

competitive dance competitionsOther than the chance of wining a gold award, students’ can gain so much more like meeting like-minded people, making new friends, comparing differing dance and teaching styles and measuring their standards against their peers.

This is a good thing, as more students’ gain opportunities to compete and be seen. It gives students’ something to work towards, and they set their goals higher and push themselves harder than they normally would.

The Not So Good About Competitive Dance Competitions

I find the main problem is that dance pupils are being pushed to perform physical and technical feats in these competitions that their bodies are not ready for yet, thus risking the incidence of injury and at worsted case scenario cutting a dancers career short.

The students’ are often so busy getting ready for the numerous competitions out there that they fail to work on their basic technique, which is important for them to develop strength and improve. Often a students’ artistry is compromised in order to perform tricks to wow the audience.

Instead, that dancer should be working more on technique and deliver a more expressive performance with emotion, dynamics, musicality, storytelling ability alongside clean and accomplished technique relative to their age. This is what dance is truly about, not about how many pirouettes or flick flacks you can do.

As a teacher I find it harder each year to find the time to develop healthier and more resilient dancers if they are always wanting to practice their competition pieces. As instructors we have a duty to point these out to young people and to make changes if we see that they are doing potentially harmful things to their bodies.

Unfortunately it is still common to see girls as young as eight years old on pointe with some of these competitions even permitting this to take place. Don’t they know the long term damage this can have on a child s body?

Pointe work requires a great foundation of strength, which takes years to train, and I for one don’t let my girls go onto pointe before they hit puberty.

Same thing goes for boys. Some competitions permit boys to perform pas de deux work with lifts when their bones are still developing. Imagine the damage to a shoulder joint or the vertebrae in the back if a boy tries to lift a girl before he is physically strong enough.

competitive dance competitionsSo competitions encourage teachers to push children into things that they are not ready for way to early, and this is the part of competitions that I don’t agree with.

The other problem is that by entering too many competitive dance competitions, a young dancer can be pushed so hard that they end up burning out by the time they are 15 years old. Nobody gains anything if this happens.

A lot of dance studio owners say that they feel pressured by the parents to enter lots of competitions and if they don’t produce winners the child gets moved elsewhere.

In order to win competitions a dancer will need to dedicate considerable time each day in the training and perfecting of both competition routines and technique. When there are too many competitions, a lot of time is taken away from the dancers technical training, and this is where they also develop strength and stamina, which leaves them less prone to injuries.

In order to achieve the above some schools are training dancers between six and eight hours a day seven days a week to perfect their solos, and because only a few steps are done in a variation, other areas of their training are neglected.

Some children even neglect their academic education and reduce this to just a few hours a week. Unfortunately it is the academic subjects that will help them after their dance careers, which are normally short-lived, and think about it, an educated dancer also makes a far more successful artist in the end.

The top ballet schools schedule three or four hours of ballet training a day for under 16s five days a week and they encourage rest over the weekends. In order to grow healthily during adolescence, the body needs to rest to avoid long-term and irreversible damage.

If all a child’s energy is used up training intensely for long hours, then there is little left for growth and mental focus.

Remember that good training is about building the foundation blocks carefully and steadily so that dancers can achieve their full potential and longevity in their dance career.

So I believe competitive dance competitions can be a great platform for dancers to gain valuable experience, but within reason and not too often.

It is a dance teachers duty to place strict criteria in place to protect the children in their care and ensure that all the vocabulary in their students’ dances is both artistic and age appropriate.

Les Sylphides Chopin – The Ballet And It’s History

les sylphides chopin

Les Sylphides Chopin – The History

Les Sylphides Chopin ballet is a famous ballet in one act.

The choreography was done by Fokine and the music by Chopin.

Les Sylphides was first performed at an examination performance at the Maryinsky Theater, St Petersburg on the 20th of March 1908. It was then performed in a proper theater on the 4th of March 1909. The ballet was first performed in Western Europe by the Ballets Russe at the Theater Du Chatelet in Paris on the 2nd of June 1909.

When Les Sylphides was first done, it was titled Chopiniana for its first Maryinsky performance and it remains so titled to this day in Russia. The ballet was renamed Les Sylphides for its first performance in Paris by the Ballets Russes.

The original cast was let by Pavlova, Karsavina, Baldina and Nijinsky.

les sylphides chopinThe photo on the right was taken of a London Performance in 1911.

What Dances Make Up The Les Sylphides Ballet?

This is the order of the ballet.

Prelude, op. 28, no. 7 – Overture

Nocturne, Op. 32, No. 2 – ensemble – danced by the company

Valse, Op. 70, no.1 – solo – premiere danseuse

Mazurka, Op. 33, No. 2 – solo – danseuse etoile

Mazurka, Op. 67, No. 3 – solo – premier danseur

Prelude, Op. 28, No. 7 – solo – premiere danseur

Valse, Op. 64, No. 2 – pas de deux – danseuse etoile and premier danseur

Valse, op. 18 – ensemble – the company

This version below is a full version of the ballet danced by the American Ballet Theater with Cynthia Harvey as the Principle or Premiere Danseuse.

The scene of this ballet is a forest glade. On one side the grey ruins of a monastery, and on the other leafless trees. In the background there is the faint outline of a tomb stone. The ballet is set at nighttime and the moon is throwing patches of silvery light on the stage.

les sylphidesWhen the curtain rises, the corps de ballet and the four principals are grouped in a semi-circle against the forest background. The dancers all wear traditional white ballet skirts of the Taglioni period. When they move the manner of this pure romantic ballet is a series of four variations and a pas de deux framed in two ensembles.

The mood of Les Sylphides is spiritual, tinged with sadness, except for the more animated concluding scene. The total effect is poetry for whose proper performance purity of style is essential without any form of excess exaggeration.

This ballet has no story line and is descended from the shade’s scene in La Bayadere, but Les Sylphides Chopin introduced what was essentially a new genre which was a ballet with moods and no narrative structure as well as no clearly defined characters.

The inspiration for this ballet was the romantic ballet era and the title was from the original La Sylphide.

Fourteen years after Swan Lake, Les Sylphides carried the search further for more expressive movement. The aim wasn’t the normal tricks and double turns one normally sees in the big ballet productions, but rather the patterns and lines creating a more lyrical quality that flows out of the music.

The great achievement of Les Sylphides, in fact, is its musicality. Fokine wanted it to be the personification of a poetic vision.

All The Basic Ballet Positions Explained

Here are some basic ballet positions explanations and illustrations for you.   There are 5 basic foot positions and 5 basic arm positions in ballet – 1st to 5th position in both feet and arms.

Basic Ballet Positions Illustrations

Here are some ballet positions illustrations and descriptions to help you to understand them in your ballet training.

Ballet Positions of the Feet

The first position of the feet is with heels touching and the toes facing outwards.

basic ballet positions
First Position

Make sure that both feet are equally turned out from the hips and that they are not so turned out that the feet roll forward.  The turnout should come from the hip.

All five toes on both feet must be on the floor and relaxed, not clenched.

Because the arches of the feet are lifted and held, the feet shouldn’t look flat.

The knees should line up with the toes, or face the same way as the toes.  On this illustration, the toes are a little too turned out for a beginner, and most people will suffer knee injuries if they do ballet with too much turn out before they are ready and strong enough for it.

2nd Position of the feet has the same rules as the first position but the feet are separated by anywhere from one of your own feet to one and a half of your own feet.  The toes are in line with each other and the feet are equally turned out.

2nd position
2nd Position

2nd Position is not a pretty position but is used a lot in ballet exercises like echappe sautes and to strengthen the feet in pointe work.

Ballet dancers also do plies in 2nd position and it is the only position in which we plie without lifting the heels.

3rd Position of the feet is more like a stepping stone to 5th Position.  It is used to train young children or beginners and is used a lot in the grades exams.

Once a dancer is comfortable with 3rd Position, she then moves on gradually to 5th Position.  Professional dancers usually only work from 5th position rather than 3rd.

ballet position illustrations
Third Position

5th Position of the feet is the ultimate classical position, that you will see all the professionals doing.

It is a difficult position to work in, as the dancer must fully understand how to work the turnout from the hip socket as well as master landings in this position.

4th Position of the feet is a difficult one for dancers to master properly, and both legs need to be turned out equally at all times from the hips, and the weight of the body has to be in the middle, and not favoring one leg. The hips also need to remain square to the dancers front.

There are different variations of 4th position, for instance, 4th opposite 1st is a more open position than 4th opposite 5th.  The feet are about a dancers foot distance apart.

5th position of the feet
Fifth Position
basic ballet positions
4th Position

Ballet Positions of the Arms

ballet positions illustrations
First Position

The first position  of the arms that a beginner will learn at ballet is Bras Bas.

In ballet, the arms are always rounded in the basic positions, and they stay in the same shape while moving through all the positions.

Bras bas is not pictured here, but the arms are down with the baby fingers in line with the top of the thigh.  The elbows are held away from the body and there is a small gap underneath the armpit.

The upper back should be engaged, and the shoulder blades down.

1st Position of the arms is taken by lifting the arms in front of you so that the middle fingers are in line with the belly button.  The elbows are well supported and rounded, and the palms face inwards.

ballet positions illustrations
2nd Position

2nd Position of the arms is an open line with the arms sloping gently down from the shoulders.  The elbows remain supported and the hands have a soft and relaxed look to them.

The Dancer should feel the muscles across the upper back and underneath the arms working.

ballet positions illustrations
3rd Position

3rd Position of the arms is one arm in 1st and the other in 2nd Position.  This position is used to prepare for pirouettes and the arm line shown in the diagram is a bit higher than it should be.

ballet positions illustrations
5th Position

5th Position of the arms is the classic ballerina pose.  Both arms are above the head, rounded but lengthened with the shoulders relaxed, and shoulder blades have a feeling of sliding down the back of your spine.

4th Position of the arms is a mixture of 5th position and 2nd position.  You also get a 4th crossed position of the arms where the one arm is in 5th position and the other arm is in 1st position.

If you have any questions about these ballet positions illustrations, please leave a comment below.

ballet positions illustrations
Open 4th Position 

Turnout In Ballet and How To Increase Your Turnout

turnout in ballet

Turnout in ballet is a very controversial subject, and every ballet dancer wants to achieve perfect turnout. But how does turnout actually work and what are the limits. Let’s look at some of the muscle groups and ways in which we can increase our turnout in ballet.

Why is this and why do we need turnout in ballet?

There are three reasons we need to turn out in ballet.

The first reason is that turnout helps the dancer move sideways across the stage. In this way, the dancer can keep facing the audience in front of her as she moves effortlessly and elegantly across the stage.

The second reason we have turnout in ballet is because you can lift your legs higher when they are turned out. In ballet, the dancer aims to get her leg as high as possible without compromising her posture and hip alignment, and turnout is used to achieve this.

The third reason is that it looks aesthetically pleasing to watch a dancer with turnout. Turned in legs do not look at all attractive in ballet.

What is Turnout In Ballet?

Turnout is the outward rotation of your legs from the hip socket. Turnout in ballet can be used to describe the angle at the feet, the flexibility of the hip or the muscular control of that external rotation.

Although it is safe to imagine that the feet should perfectly reflect the available external rotation at the hip, in practice this is not exactly right.

Thomasen, who was a Danish orthopaedic surgeon, said in 1982 that the lower leg is externally rotated 5 degrees at the extended knee and that the normal ankle joint has an axis with an external rotation of 15 degrees. Therefore the foot lies at an angle of 20 degrees outwards. This is a bonus for classical dancers, but pushing beyond this at the knee or at the ankle when fully turning out the hip causes distortion of these joints with resulting malalignment of the foot.

Unfortunately once the joints are forced out of alignment, true balanced muscular control of the joint is lost.

So dancers need to be very careful to make sure that they are working within the range dictated by the hip joint, and only then can the externally rotated limb be securely controlled.

Turnout is not about standing and trying to force your feet into a 180-degree line as can be seen in Figure A. This is an impossible, over turned-out position.

turnout

Figure B shows a more realistic angle at which to work, but this position still demands at least 60 degrees of external rotation from the hip.

Figure C shoes a still visually acceptable angle at which to work, where a good balance of muscular control can be used around the hip.

When training young children, they need to work at an even more decreased angle to avoid injuring their joints over time.

Children dancing from the ages six to twelve years have the benefit of developing the femoral neck angle and after that can the bone shape no longer be altered.

To benefit from this, the child must presumably be working at her individual maximum with good control in order to generate the force withing the hip joint.

The entire leg is rotated outwards, and it is dependent on your flexibility in the hip socket as to how far you can work your turnout.  When bending your knees, they should always align with your toes and when standing, your kneecap should face the same way as your foot is pointing.

The amount of external rotation in the hip is dictated by the shape of the bones involved and the flexibility of the ligaments, joint capsule, and muscles.

What Muscles Are Used In Turnout?

There are many muscles of turnout, some more important than others, and there will be a constant interplay between them depending on the position of the hip.

Teachers will need to find the best ways of teaching turnout. Some may emphasize the wrapping round of the upper thigh at the back and others may emphasize the flattening and rotating of the front of the thigh.

These are the muscles that are used and that will be activated during external rotation of the hip in classical ballet. How much they are activated depends on the position of the hip joint.

The first are the adductors (inner thigh muscles). Nowadays the majority of teachers believe these are the most important muscles and insist that they are used.

In first, third or fifth position of the feet when the thigh is is fully turned and the pelvis held in balance, the inner thigh is brought to the front producing a flatness and muscle delineation, which is evidence of control and increased stability.

If we consider that the pubis of the pelvis is the origin of the adductors and the insertion is down the line spear at the back of the femur and if the pelvis is well placed (neither tucked under nor arched), the adductors will pull the back of the femur round towards the front.

They will also adduct it (bring it in towards the centre), which is exactly what we want in our closed positions, from where we start and in which we finish.

The more anterior muscles of the adductor group also help with flexion, taking the hip into deviant positions.

So teachers need to continue teaching the importance of the adductors in holding turnout. These muscles need to work hard in all closed positions and closing movements in first and fifth.

ballet turnout

Using the adductors of the supporting leg in adage will help the control of the supporting hip. However, in high adage positions to second when the pelvis has tilted horizontally, it is unlikely that the adductors are active on either leg. The adductors could well be holding onto turnout as they go through the motions of a grand battements a la second, but It is important that this muscle group  develops strength to balance out the muscles on the outside of the hip.

The apparent decrease in knee problems in dancers over the past two decades could be due to better emphasis on the use of the inner thigh rather than the forcing of turnout from the feet.

The gluteus Maximus is the most superficial of the seat muscles and is an external rotator of the hip joint and will be more or less active throughout classical movement.

If it is over gripped in static positions, the pelvis will tuck under and the normal lumbar curve will flatten. Whan movement takes place, the gripping actions must relax and so control is thus lost.

The Gluteus Maximus is an important muscle which extends the thigh and turns it out, as in arabesque. Posturally it works with the hamstrings below and supports the spine above, but overuse disturbs fine control and upsets muscle balance around the hip.

The third set of external rotators is made of the six deep lateral rotators (deep turnout muscles) situated closely over the back of the hip joint.

These can be thought of as the deeper layer of the gluteal muscles. This group is made up of the obturator interns and externes, gelmellus superior and inferior, quadrates femurs and piriformis. Their attachments strongly suggest that they are external rotators of the hip, but they are so deep that no EMG studies have been carried out on them.

However most dance investigators ad anatomists agree about the importance of the six deep lateral rotators in their role as turnout muscles.

So when standing on two feet in your ballet positions, the adductors, Gluteus Maximus and the deep turnout muscles will be well activated. In adage positions to second where the hip is abducted the deep lateral rotators come into their own.

As so much of our classical vocabulary is set in second positions, both a terre and en l’air, the full use of rotation and the dropping of the hip requires the use of these ideally placed muscles.

Remember that these are relatively small muscles and they will need to work concurrently with others to generate a burnout force around the joint.

The Sartorius is the long diagonal muscle which passes over the front of the thigh from the pelvis above ve the hip joint to the medial condyle of the tibia. It has a rotatory effect on the hip, although its main action is flexion, abduction and external rotation of the thigh at the hip and flexion of the knee like in a retire. The Sartorius works with the six deep lateral rotators in second positions.

The posterior fibres of the Gluteus medius and minimus also help with external rotation of the hip as the anterior fibres internally rotate.

Biceps femoris, the outside hamstring muscle, contributes to external rotation of the hip, pulling laterally on the head of the fibul where it inserts.

Another muscle that contributes to turnout is the iliopsoas, which is the main hip flexor. It is also an external rotator helping to hold the turnout in devant positions along with the adductors.

So as you can see there are many muscles of turnout, and some more important than others. There will be a constant interplay between them depending on the position of the hip.

While it is interesting to learn about the muscles of the hips, teachers cannot teach too analytically, but instead have to find the key to achieve the desired results.

How To Turnout In Ballet

Simply spreading your feet outwards as wide as they will go, as most beginners tend to do, is not correct, as you are simply placing a lot of strain on the knees, and this is going to cause injury in the future.

The best way to start is to find your natural turnout by standing with your feet in parallel first position, and then gently squeezing the buttocks muscles and letting your legs move outwards from the hip.

Once you are in natural turnout, there are many exercises that are done during your ballet class that work in turnout and train the muscles to remember this position and improve on it while you are dancing.

The more you dance in turnout, the stronger the muscles will get, and your body will allow you to do more as you get stronger. In the beginning, you will often feel your turnout slipping. Just stay focused on holding the turnout from the hips while you dance, and your body will eventually start doing it on its own.

Extra Note: When you turn out your legs for the first time you may find that one side can comfortably turn out much more than the other side. If this is the case, always work according to the rotation of the less supple leg. Never force turnout as this will lead to injury.

How Can I Improve My Turnout?

Most dancers dream of having 180-degree turnout, and unfortunately, this is just not possible on most body types. You can, however, enhance and improve on what you already have.

never force turnout
Some of these children are forcing their turnout more than they should

Remember, in order to be a good dancer or a professional dancer, there is a lot more than turnout that is needed, for example, musicality, technical strength, good feet – the list goes on…. Most gifted dancers do not have 180-degree turnout but still do very well for themselves.

If you start to dance as an adult, it is a lot harder to get your turnout as the hips have already set, whereas in a child the growing body is pliable and supple.

On this video, is one of the more popular exercises to stretch the turnout in your hips.

How To Increase The Turnout In My Supporting Leg

Here is an excellent exercise to do to increase the turnout in your supporting leg.

More Exercises for Your Turnout in Ballet

Tune Up Your Turnout In Ballet

Working rotation from the hips is important in all dance forms, not just ballet.

Here are two exercises to test your turnout and then end with a stretch.

Exercise No. 1

Lie on the floor with your hips about two feet away from the wall and place your legs at a 60-degree angle above the ground, resting your heels against the wall.

Hold your feet a few inches apart with your legs parallel to one another. Keep your knees straight.

Place your hands on your hips to make sure they remain still.

turnout in ballet

Turnout in balletWorking from this starting position, slowly rotate your legs out, initiating from the hips.

You will feel your inner thighs wrap forward and out like you should when standing in a turned-out position.

Without the floor under your feet, you won’t be able to twist your knees and angles to increase your turnout, you will be working only within your natural range.

Once you are fully rotated, return to parallel and repeat the rotation five more times.

Exercise No. 2

Lie on your side with your head resting on one arm and the other arm bent in front of you with the palm flat on the ground. Line up your shoulders, hips, knees and ankles so that you aren’t rolling forward or back.

Slide your knees forward so that they are slightly bent. Point your toes and keep them in line with your upper body.

Without changing the position of your torso, hinge your top leg like a door, opening at your knee and keeping your feet connected.

The rotators of your upper leg will be isolated as you work against gravity to lift your knee without disturbing your balance.

Hold your most turned out position for a few seconds before lowering.

Repeat 15 times then roll over and repeat on the other side.

If you really want to work those rotators repeat the exercise with a thera band tied around your legs just above your knees.improve your turnout

After working those rotators, stretch it out by sitting with one leg bent in front of you and fully extend your other leg behind you, aiming to keep your hips square.

Relax your upper body forward and feel a release in the hip of your front leg.

Hold for 30 seconds or longer and then repeat on the other side.

Correct control of turnout in ballet does not just happen. It needs to be careful tough, just as the position of the pelvis, alignment of the spine and weight placement through the foot need to be guided.

How To Dance Musically

how to dance musically

Every dancer needs to know how to dance musically. This is because dance and music go together. They are interconnected.

Ezra Pound wrote, “Music begins to atrophy when it departs too far from the dance.”

It is so easy to take music for granted when you dance, as it is always playing in the background. Don’t treat the music merely as a means of keeping time, really listen to the music, as it will inspire, motivate and actually make you a better dancer.

how to dance musicallySo Why Do We Have Music In Dance?

Music provides the rhythm, tempo and fundamental pulse to which the dancer should dance. It indicates where you should be at certain moments.

Even if you are simply dancing to a drum beat, you need to dance forcefully and listen for the accents.

When melody and harmony join rhythm and tempo, the music offers abundant information and guidance to the dancer.

How To Dance Musically

You as a dancer needs to find out what the personality of the music is and then bring it out in yourself. This is the path to take if you want to know how to dance musically.

So as delicate music will call for delicate dancing, loud strong music will call for bigger and bolder movements.

So you need to be versatile as a dancer so that you can dance sharply to staccato or pizzicato music and more fluidly to legato music so that you can connect your steps in smooth fluid elongated and beautiful lines.

The next level on how to dance musically is to consider the phrasing of the music.

Just as music phrases connect individual notes, movement phrases connect individual steps. Your dancing should be like a pearl necklace. Although each pearl is beautiful by itself, the whole necklace is even more so.

Train your ear to listen for the way that the music changes dynamics, climaxes, and cadences and think about what you would emphasize were you to sing the melody line and shape your dance accordingly.

Musicality is more than simply dancing in time with the music. It is the ability to hear subtle qualities and structures within the music and then have the gift to be able to communicate them through your dancing.

As a dancer, you should also be having some sort of music training as learning to read music and help you tremendously as a dancer. Try listening to different types of music outside of dance class and try and identify the rhythm by simply allowing your hand to beat gently along with the music. Your hand should automatically accent the downbeat, enabling you to differentiate between a march (4/4 timing) and a waltz (3/4 timing). Once you have your timing off pat, you can graduate to more complicated music.

If you know how to dance musically, you can solve a lot of dance problems too. When a turn, for instance, isn’t working or you’re behind in a tricky combination, listen to the rhythm and accent of the music. You may turn better by changing the rhythm or jump a bit quicker by changing the accent.

Music can give you that push that you may need to get through a long and tough variation. Simply think of riding the music the way a surfer rides the waves and you won’t run out of breath so quickly.

Should You Count Your Music?

developing musicality

Well, the answer to this is yes and no. It is important sometimes when you are developing an ear for the music in the beginning stages of your dance training to be able to count the music and hear the beats, but you don’t want to end up being a robotic dancer, so sometimes it helps just to listen and interpret.

I am sure you have heard your teacher saying on occasion, ‘count money, not music.’ This is so that you can develop musical sensitivity.

While cultivating your own musicality, it also important not to lose sight of the fact that counting is still an essential skill for dancers. Some dancers are naturally musical while others need time to develop an ear and in this case, counting does help a lot.

Sometimes the choreography in a group requires counting so that the group can move in unison, but if you have a solo, try and interpret the music as you are dancing to make it your own.

With some music, it is impossible to count like the music in Stravinsky’s complex ‘The Rite of Spring.’ The dancers had such trouble with this music that the choreographer Nijinsky had to stand in the wings and count it for them. Unfortunately, the audience rioted because they did not like the ballet, so the dancers could not hear him.

Mathilde Kschessinska – Famous Russian Ballerina

keschessinska

Mathilde Kschessinska was born in St. Petersburg Ligovo, near Peterhof in the of August 1872.

She was the daughter of a well-known dancer of Polish origin, Feliks Krzesiński. Her father and her brother were both dancers in St. Petersburg.

Mathilde Kschessinska graduated from the Imperial Ballet School in 1890 and five years later was filling all the leading roles in the repertory.

Mathilde Kschessinska made her début in a pas de deux from La Fille Mal Gardée during a graduation performance in 1890 attended by Emperor Alexander IIIand the rest of the Imperial family, including the future Nicholas II. At the post-performance supper, the emperor sought out the young Kschessinskaya and told her to “…be the glory and adornment of our ballet.

Small, dark, vivacious and endowed with a prodigious technique, she was the first native-born dancer to challenge the supremacy of the then reigning Italian virtuoso ballerinas and she was the first Russian ballerina to execute the famous 32 fouettes, introduced by Pierina Legnani in Swan Lake.

Her triumphs were scored in ballets like Le Talisman, Esmeralda, Fiammetta, and La Fille de Pharaon. These ballets were monumental mainstays of the later 19th-century repertoire, now all but forgotten.

It is related that when she appeared in Western Europe with Nijinsky in Swan Lake under the aegis of Diaghilev, her success was such that her celebrated partner, in an access of rage and jealousy, tore his costume to shreds!

She was a mistress of the future Tsar Nicholas II of Russia prior to his marriage, and later in the wife of his cousin Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovich of Russia. Because of this, she enjoyed protection in high places and she was a person to be wary of.Mathilde Kschessinska

In 1902, she gave birth to a son, Vladimir he was later titled H.S.H. Prince Romanovsky-Krasinsky, but said that he never knew for sure who his father was.

Innumerable stories are told of her flouting of authority with impunity and her indulgence in vengeful caprice – faced with a fine for having worn a dress of her own devising at a performance instead of the regulation costume provided by the theatre, she secured the forced resignation of the then director of the Imperial Theatres, Prince Volkonsky, an enlightened, artistic and intelligent man, who assisted the great choreographer – reformer Fokine’s first steps.

On the other hand, Tamara Karsavina has told us how, at the start of her career, the older dancer took her younger colleague under her wing, knowing full well, as she generously admitted in after years when the younger dancer now world-famous was expressing her gratitude for that early protection, that she was aiding a talent as great as her own, which might one day eclipse hers.

She said, “I did nothing but smoothe your path; your beauty and talent would have carried you to success without my aid.”

In 1917, on the outbreak of the revolution, Kschessinska left Russia and settled in Paris, where she opened a school of dancing.

Practically all the famous names of the next generation have passed through her capable hands at one time or another.

In 1960, she published an autobiography entitled Souvenirs de la Kschessinska (published in English as Dancing in St. Petersburg: The Memoirs of Kschessinska).

In later years, she suffered financial difficulties but remained indomitable. She died in Paris, eight months short of her 100th birthday. She is buried at the Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois Russian Cemetery.

Kschessinska

Getting To Know Carlotta Grisi

Carlotta grisi

I always love to learn about famous dancers of our past as these are the people who shaped dance for the future. today I would like to focus on Carlotta Grisi.

Who Was Carlotta Grisi?

Carlotta Grisi was born in Visinada as Caronne Adele Josephine Marie Grisi on the 28th of June 1819 in Italy.

She studied with ballet master Guillet in Milan and graduated to the corps-de-ballet at La Scala in 1829.

While she was dancing in Naples in 1833, thine just in her early teens, she met the fabulous Jules Perrot who, though of insignificant physique and almost humpbacked, was the greatest male dancer of his age, and certainly the greatest since Auguste Vestris, who was one of the greatest of all time.Carlotta Grisi

Poems have been written in praise of Perrot’s grace, despite his unprepossessing appearance, of his ability as a mine, too, and of his beautifully proportioned legs in contrast to his tenor’s’ torso.

He was a talented choreographer, in whose ballets the leading dancers of the day did not scorn to appear.

The youthful Carlotta became pupil and mistress of this phenomenon.

She also sang but was more famous for her dancing.

She subsequently starred all over Europe, making her debut at the Paris Opera in the ballet divertissement in Donizetti’s La Favorite in 1841, in which she was partnered by Lucien Petipa, brother of Marius Petipa, who was the most celebrated choreographer of the 19th century.

Carlotta Grisi was here seen by, and later became acquainted with, the famous French poet and critic, Theophile Gautier, whose great love and inspiration she was to become and who has left us glowing descriptions of her charms both as an artist and woman.

Other ballets in which Carlotta Grisi appeared whilst in Paris included La Jolie fille de Gand (1842), La Peri (1843), Esmeralda (1844) and Paquita and Le Diable a quatre (1845), in the latter year journeying, also to London to take part in the celebrated Pas de quatre.

Carlotta Grisi was of medium height, with auburn hair and violet eyes.

Dance historian Lillian Moore wrote “In Grisi were united all the best attributes of the other outstanding ballerinas of the romantic period: the buoyant elevation of Taglioni, the technical virtuosity and mimic powers of Elssler, and the joyous, exuberant facility of Cerrito. If she could not claim to surpass her peers in any one aspect of her art, Grisi outstripped them all in versatility.

She is most famous for the role which she created of Giselle, the peasant girl who dies for love in Act 1 of the ballet which bears her name and in Act 2 rises wraithlike from the grave to save the lover who has betrayed her from the clutches of the baleful Myrthe, Queen of the Wilis.

Grisi’s last performance in the west was in Paul Taglioni’s Les Métamorphoses (aka Satanella, 1849).

In 1850, she joined Perrot in Russia, where he had been appointed ballet master, and she danced Giselle at the Imperial Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre.

The first Giselle in Russia had been danced by Fanny Elssler, and so the initial reaction to Grisi’s interpretation of the role was not that enthusiastic. However, over time the Russians appreciated her talents more. She was Prima Ballerina of the St. Petersburg Imperial Theatres in St. Petersburg from 1850 to 1853, working not only with Perrot but also Joseph Mazilier who staged for her La Jolie Fille de Gand and Vert-Vert especially for her.

In 1854, with her daughter, she left Russia for Warsaw, where she intended to continue dancing, but she became pregnant by Prince Léon Radziwill who persuaded her to retire from ballet at the height of her fame.

Grisi gave birth to her second daughter, Léontine Grisi, and at the age of 34 settled in Saint-Jean, Geneva.  She died in this district of the town on 20 May 1899 a month before her 80th birthday.

One of the creators of Giselle creators, Théophile Gautier, who was married to Carlotta’s sister Ernestina, described her dancing as having a childlike artlessness, a happy and infectious gaiety. Carlotta Grisi was the cousin of the famous soprano singers, the sisters Giuditta and Giulia Grisi.

Carlotta Grisi’s Greatest Roles

These are the roles she danced that made her famous:

  • Created the title role of Giselle (Jules Perrot, Jean Coralli and Adolphe Adam. 1841).
  • Created the dual role of Peri/Leila in the oriental La Péri (Jean Coralli and Friedrich Burgmüller. 1843)
  • Created the title role in Paquita (Joseph Mazilier and Edouard Deldevez. 1844)
  • Second ballerina in Pas de Quatre (Jules Perrot and Cesare Pugni. 1845)
  • Created the role of Mazourka in Le Diable à Quatre (Joseph Mazilier and Adolphe Adam. 1845)

How To Cure Plantar Fasciitis

plantar fasciitis stretch

Plantar fasciitis is a pretty common ailment amongst runners, walkers and even unfortunately dancers. In this post, I will look at how to cure Plantar Fasciitis with the use of some great stretches that are important for the flexibility and range of motion of the lower leg, ankle and foot muscles.

Good flexibility around the ankle and foot allows for unrestricted, pain-free movement of the ankle, foot and arch, so it makes sense to stretch out these muscles on a regular basis whether or not you have Plantar Fasciitis.

What Is Plantar Fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis (PLAN-tur fas-e-I-tis) is one of the most common causes of heel pain. It involves inflammation of a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes (plantar fascia). The plantar fascia acts as your shock absorber, but if it becomes inflamed it can be very painful.

It is most commonly caused by strain injury causing micro-tears to the ligament as it attaches to the heel bone or other areas of tightness on the sole of the foot.

How To Cure Plantar Fasciitis

Here are some quick relief tips that may help you if you find that the pain is too much to cope with.

Wear Supportive Footwear

Wear shoes that provide good arch support and have a low heal, especially if you’re going to be on your feet a lot. This helps to support your plantar fascia and prevent them from becoming inflamed or more inflamed.

Your doctor may recommend orthotic shoe inserts or foot pads to help distribute your weight more evenly, especially if you have high arches or flat feet.

You can get them ready-made at most pharmacies, or your doctor can have some made custom for your feet. The shoes below either has built-in orthotics or you can put the orthotic that your doctor gives you into the shoe.

Click on the links or on the pictures if you want to find out more about the products mentioned.

ASICS Women’s Gel-Venture 5 Running Shoe, Silver Grey/Turquoise/Lime Punch, 9 M US

These Asics are 100% synthetic, have a rubber sole, arch support and a gel cushioning system.

You can remove the sock liner and put more supportive orthotics inside if need be.

Vionic Women’s Agile Kea Slip-on Black Black 7.5M US

These comfy shoes are great orthotic trainers. They are firm for support, yet flexible and there is a removable textile-covered EVA orthotic insert inside.

SOARFREE Plantar Fasciitis Feet Sandal with Arch Support – Best Orthotic flip Flops for Flat Feet,Heel Pain- for Women (9 M US, Black)

These sandals are beyond comfortable. They have a built-in orthotic which has been shown to be effective in helping to treat pain that is associated with plantar fasciitis.

It also helps with a mild to moderate pronation of the foot, metatarsal pain, heel and arch discomfort, flat feet, sore feet and other common foot ailments.

The sandals are lightweight, flexible and have controlled cushioning that reduces stress on the heels, feet and knees.

Essential Oils

Applying Lavender essential oil may help as it has anti-inflammatory properties that make it a possible treatment for pain caused by inflammation.

Try diluting a drop or two in a carrier oil, such as olive or coconut oil, and massaging it into the bottoms of your feet. You can also try adding a few drops to a warm foot bath.

If you regularly wear the same shoes to exercise, make sure to replace them from time to time. Signs that you need a new pair include:

  • wear on the outsoles
  • stretching of the heels
  • moulding of the insoles to the shape of your foot
  • breakdown of shoe interior
  • new blisters forming on your feet
  • new pain in your feet, legs, or back

Runners should replace their athletic shoes every 400–500 miles. Nonrunners should replace athletic shoes every six months or so, depending on how often you wear them.

Massage

You can perform simple massage techniques to soothe the pain in your heels. Use your thumbs to massage your arches and heels, working from the balls of your feet up to your heel. You can also use a golf ball to massage your arches. Put your foot on the golf ball, hang on to a stable item, and roll the golf ball under your arches.

Use Ice On The Affected Area

An ice pack like the one pictured here that can be purchased online can help to reduce inflammation.

Cover your ice pack if you need to with a cloth or thin towel and hold it over the painful area three to four times daily for 15 to 20 minutes at a time.

Use A Tennis Ball

Gently massage your foot by rolling it on a tennis ball. Concentrate on the areas that are sensitive.

Lose Some Weight

Carrying extra weight puts more pressure on your plantar fascia. If you’re overweight, losing a few pounds can help to alleviate some of that pressure.

Rest

Sometimes, plantar fasciitis is a sign that your feet simply need to rest, especially if you regularly do high-impact sports. Giving your feet a break for a few days can help to reduce inflammation and let your plantar fascia heal. While you heal, try a low-impact activity like swimming.

Plantar Fasciitis Stretches

Running, Sprinting, Track, Cross Country, Walking, Dancing, gymnastics and any sport that involves jumping or explosive movement will benefit by using plantar fasciitis stretches regularly.how to cure plantar fasciitis

While performing the plantar fasciitis stretches below there are a number of muscles within the lower leg and arch of the foot that are stretched.

Below is a comprehensive list of the anatomical muscle names involved in the following plantar fasciitis stretches.

  • Tibialis posterior (Upper calf);
  • Soleus (Lower calf and Achilles);
  • Flexor hallucis longus, Flexor digitorum longus, Peroneus longus and brevis (Lower calf);
  • Flexor digitorum brevis, Abductor hallucis, Abductor digiti minimi, Quadratus plantae (Arch of the foot); and
  • Flexor hallucis brevis, Adductor hallucis, Flexor digiti minimi brevis (Arch of the foot);

As with any activity, there are rules and guidelines to ensure that they are safe and stretching is no exception.

Stretching can be harmful and cause injury if done incorrectly, so make sure that you follow these guidelines below:

  • Warm-up the muscles you want to stretch before you begin.
  • Don’t hold your breath because holding your breath can cause tension in your body and in your muscles. Breathe deeply and relax while performing your stretches.
  • Never force a stretch beyond the point of mild tension. Stretching tight muscles, and especially the muscles in the arch of the foot, can be uncomfortable, but you should never feel acute pain. Move into the stretch until you can feel mild tension and if you do feel any pain, stop immediately.
  • It’s obviously difficult to stretch if your clothes are too tight, so make sure that they are loose, comfortable and don’t restrict your movement.
  • Be consistent because stretching for a few minutes each day will gradually build flexibility and range of motion. This is far preferable to stretching only once a week for a longer time.

Plantar Fasciitis Stretch Number 1

Kneel with one leg at the back and one leg in the front. Bring your front foot in underneath you and push gently on the knee, taking your body forward.  Make sure your foot is still flat on the floor. You will feel your ankle and back of heel stretching, and possibly also feel pressure on the front of the ankle.

plantar fasciitis stretch

Hold this stretch for 20 to 30 seconds while relaxing and breathing deeply. Repeat on the other side then repeat 2 or 3 times.

Plantar Fasciitis Stretch Number 2

Kneel on one foot with your hands on the ground. Place your body weight over your knee and slowly move your knee forward.

plantar fasciitis stretch

Keep your toes on the ground and arch your foot. Hold this stretch for about 20 to 30 seconds and repeat at least 2 to 3 times on each side.

Plantar Fasciitis Stretch Number 3

Plantar Fasciitis Stretch Number 4 and 5

Want more Plantar Fasciitis Stretches?

This book can be purchased on Amazon and is one of their best sellers, so you know the advice works.

The 5-Minute Plantar Fasciitis Solution

Jim Johnson, P.T. is a physical therapist who has spent over 28 years treating both inpatients and outpatients with a wide range of pain and mobility problems – from back pain to heart transplants to neuromuscular disorders.

He has written many bestselling pain books – all based completely on published research and controlled trials. His books have been translated into other languages, and thousands of copies have been sold worldwide.

Besides working full-time as a clinician in a major teaching hospital and writing books, Jim Johnson is a certified Clinical Instructor by the American Physical Therapy Association and enjoys teaching physical therapy students from all over the United States.

And if you want to take your flexibility to the next level try these advanced stretching techniques.

The Stretching Handbook, DVD & CD-ROMLearn how to stretch properly and get a deeper, more targeted stretch, which is guaranteed to…

  • Get rid of injuries, aches and pains with ease;
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  • Take your flexibility to a whole new level.

More than 70,000 people just like you have used my Ultimate Guide to Stretching & Flexibility to turn muscles made of rock into loose, limber, supple muscles that move with pain-free ease!

Claim your copy of my Ultimate Guide to Stretching & Flexibility and discover how to get loose, limber and pain-free in less than 10 minutes a day.

I trust that this post has helped you in your quest of how to cure plantar fasciitis. if you have any comments or anything to add, please fill in the form below this post.

Ballet Turnout – The Good And The Bad

turnout in ballet

If you are a dancer, especially a ballet dancer, then you will know the endless fights you have with yourself to improve your ballet turnout. In this article, we will look at the right and wrong ways to turnout your feet, and also try some exercises to improve your ballet turnout.

What Is Ballet Turnout?

ballet turnout

Ballet turnout is the rotation of the leg at the hips which causes the feet to turn outward, away from the front of the body.

This rotation allows for greater extension of the leg, especially when raising it to the side and rear. Turnout is an essential part of the classical ballet technique. Without turnout, ballet simply does not look like, well, ballet.

The more turned out the dancer’s legs are, the more pleasing to the eye the dancer is to watch.

When a child first starts ballet he or she will learn about the first position as pictured below. It may be one of the first things you learn in a ballet class but turnout in ballet is one of the most difficult things to master because turning out is a very unnatural thing to do for most people.

first positionContrary to belief, the dancer is taught not to only turn the feet out, but to turn the entire leg out from the hip joint.

The knees should be facing the middle toe at all times and the dancer will have to elongate the lower spine and rotate the femur in the hip joint in order to get his or her maximum turnout.

The dancer will do most of her ballet class with her feet in a turned out position. This, in turn, trains the muscles to hold the turnout when more intricate steps are performed later.

In the photo below, you will see a classic example of a dancer who is trying to turn out more than they are able. You will notice that the arches are collapsing forward causing a huge strain on the knees.

turnoutVery few people have a natural 180-degree turnout, as this dancer is trying to demonstrate.

The turnout happens in the hip area and if the bone structure in your hip limits your turnout in any way, you have to learn to work with what you have got.

Never ever force the turnout, as you will only cause long term and permanent damage to your knees and maybe even your hips, not to mention the alignment in your feet.

A dancer who forces their turnout will have a better chance of injury while also decreasing their own overall ability to do steps.

What If I Don’t Have Perfect Turnout?

Remember that it’s okay not to have perfect turnout. There are many famous ballerina’s that didn’t have perfect turnout, but they still had that star quality. One example of this is the late great Margot Fonteyn.

Many dancers may try to force turnout because they’re trying to be perfect. Well, the sooner a dancer realizes that perfection doesn’t exist in ballet, the sooner they can relax and properly use what they have.

This takes some practice and maybe some internal searching, especially for professionals. The best way to get over it is to make a simple “would I rather” list. For example… Would you rather force your turnout or jump higher? Would you rather force your turnout or dance longer? Force your turnout or be more stable on your legs? Force your turnout or have less risk of injury?

Ballet Turnout Exercises To Try?

First, try this simple exercise for more functional turnout.

Stand at the barre in your usual over turned out fifth position and plie. Feel where your knees are, whether you are square or not and if your back is arching and your butt sticking out.

Try to feel how “strong” you feel in this position. Could someone walk right by and knock you over with a little push?

Now, let your feet turn in one inch on either side. Plie again and now try to feel how it feels in comparison to when you were forcing your feet open. Does it feel like you could spring off the floor easier? Do your back and hips feel less pressure? If you’re most dancers, the answer to these will be “Yes!”

Almost every dancer is guilty of forcing the turnout at some point or another.

If you want to have a longer career with fewer injuries while also gaining more function and strength, don’t force your turnout. Turn it in an inch and you may be amazed.ballet turnout

Just remember that pushing your turnout isn’t the same as forcing it.

Never turn out to the point that your hips, knees, and ankles aren’t aligned in a plié, your hips are tucked under, your feet are rolled in or your back is swayed.

The trick is to use the maximum turnout that you naturally have and work in that range.

Most good dancers don’t have perfect turnout—they just have the muscle control to make the best of their existing rotation.

The stronger your turnout muscles are, the easier the steps will be to do.

Having turnout and working with the correct amount of turnout and the correct muscles give you a greater range of motion and allow you to move more freely, bigger, and faster.

Checklist For Dancers When  Standing In 5th Position

  • Is the pelvis in neutral?
  • Is the tailbone down but not tucked?
  • Are the hips opening like a book from the center of the body?
  • Is the upper body lifted?
  • Is the weight over the front part of the foot and not on the heels?

Products To Purchase Online To Help With Your Turnout

Ballet Turnout Training Boards 2 Discs

This excellent tool teaches the foot, ankle, and hip to work together correctly and also shows up the incorrect alignment you may or may not have.

The boards are 8 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick. There are two boards in a package.

There is a video below with examples of how these boards can improve your ballet turnout.

Reliable4Life Stretch Bands for Ballet and Dance with Resistance Band Included, Perfect for Kids and Adults, Improves Splits, Flexibility and Strength plus Carry Bag and Illustrated eBook, set of 2

These bands can help with both your stretching and your turnout with the many different types of exercises that you can do with them.

How To Improve Your Turnout

This is a wonderful video done by Kathryn Morgan to show you what sort of exercises you should be doing to improve your ballet turnout. In these exercises, you will be using both the bands and the ballet turnout board featured above.