Dancer Technique Series: Quite A Decent Turnout

Don’t fake it, love what you’ve got and work with it to get a great turnout

To all dancers who watch Kids’ TV (with or without children): do you ever get the urge to do something about the turn-out of a certain computer-animated dancing mouse? Maybe storm the building at HIT and refuse to leave till they press some buttons and make our Angelina 180-degree perfect?

What’s that, you wish someone would do the same for you? No such luck. If your frog’s legs aren’t very froggy, you just have to console yourself with the fact that perfect turnout is not something we can all have, no matter much we may want it.

The turnout a dancer is graced with is largely predetermined by physique, though good training before the bones set at around the age of eleven can win some improvement.

You try to fake it, of course. You might laugh when little kids in the playground yank their feet around to the side – violà, it’s easy! – leaving their behind out behind and their knees knocking out front. And even though you’ve gone through your training and heard “knees over toes” (as Miss Lilly might say) a million times, you still want to cheat.

You tell yourself cultivating an iron grip on the barre, or using superglue amounts of rosin on your shoes, or…whatever it takes… because…well you want the best looking turnout.

And all the time you know that faking it comes at a price. By now your Penguin Leg is incurable, your shin-bone warped so that the alignment is out between your ankle and knee. While you were cheating the wind changed, and you stuck like it.

It’s when your knees begin to pay you back thousandfold in pain that you figure it’s time to repent, to face the turnout truth. Love what you’ve got and work with it.

You resolve to mend you ways, but at first, it seems no amount of mental summoning can stop those seat muscles from slacking.

But stay with it, because…hooray here’s the good news: once you’ve got them sussed you find the turnout you have isn’t half bad at all. When you turn out properly, the upward spiral of improvement in your alignment, your strength, your balance, your whole technique, more than makes up for the few degrees of frogness that you’re missing.

Wonderful Team

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