3 Mistakes I See When It Comes To Turnout
Turnout is something that every dancer strives to perfect. In dance, the term “turnout” refers to the external rotation position of the hips. Whether we are standing on one leg or two, turnout can be tricky to find. In this post, I’ll explain the common mistakes I see related to turnout and how we can achieve better turnout and actually use it in class!
First, let’s talk about where your turnout comes from. We know it comes from your hips, but what muscles do you use? There are 2 main muscles that create the external rotation of your hip. The first one is your big gluteus maximus muscle (one of your butt muscles). Your second is actually a group of 6 smaller muscles called your “deep outward rotators (DOR’s).” They are located deep in your hips underneath all your bigger hip muscles. That’s why there a bit hard to activate sometimes. Here’s what they look like:
Note Image From “Functional anatomy of the small pelvic and hip muscles (completed)”, 2021. Retrieved from www.med.uio.no. Copyright 2012 b UiO.
Most of the time, especially younger dancers, focus on their toes pointing outward instead of working from their hip. Instead, their knees and ankles get twisted trying to “force” the turnout.
This will ultimately cause some pain in the knees as these joints are not designed to provide that kind of range of motion! The rotation should come from your hips. It may not be much at first, but over time, you CAN increase your turnout safely and effectively.
Imagine you are standing on one leg in a turned-out position. The other leg is lifted into a beautiful développé à la seconde. The standing leg is externally rotated, but the working leg…. Is in parallel. Yikes! Ideally, you want both legs to be in a rotated position… unless the choreography is specifically created that way (most of the time it’s not).
This is generally due to lack of strength in the DOR’s and core. When this happens to the working leg in that open chain movement, dancers are usually using their quadriceps muscles on the top of their leg to hold it up. While yes, your quadriceps ARE contracting and lifting your leg up, the rest of the body isn’t doing much to stabilize and support the leg. Strengthening the DOR’s and working on core stability will help solve this problem.
This one has to do with dancers trying to improve their turnout. I see a lot of videos or photos on social media that are “stretching” for better turnout. And let’s start by saying that this is incorrect. For turnout, you might be stretching the inner thighs a bit, but generally, you need more strength than you do flexibility.
Avoid any twisting in the knees and ankles when you’re trying these “stretches.” Exercises such as clamshells are great for strengthening the DOR’s and gluteus maximus.
IMPROVING YOUR TURNOUT
How to actually use your turnout is another story. We can do all the exercises possible for turnout, but if we aren’t translating that movement and strength into class, then it honestly seems pointless. You should be able to find external rotation at your hips when you are standing on two legs, standing on one leg, OR actually moving your body aka DANCING!
This is where those connections are made between the training you’re doing outside of class and the application you make during class.
If you want to work on your turnout a bit more (maybe strength, understanding the muscles, or learning new exercises), I have a virtual master class called “Turnout Technique” that would be the perfect start to learning about turnout and how to safely increase it.
It’s only $25 USD for a 1 hour class focused on your hip rotation. Click here to purchase the class on demand.
If you have any other questions about turnout, feel free to message me on Instagram or email me. I have plenty of exercises for other parts of the body on my Instagram page too (:
Owner & Founder of BodyKinect
Personal Dance Trainer