Many dancers, especially when they are first starting, think that they have average or even terrible turnout. It can be dispiriting in the first instance but with practice and using the approaches below, you should be able to improve turnouts considerably.
All it takes is dedication, time and patience.
It helps first of all to understand what turnouts are and that there are different ranges from a simple standing leg turnout to the more complex arabesque.
It’s always wise to start by looking at the standing leg turnout when you are trying to improve as it gives you a more solid idea of your range, and what is restricting you. You then work out how this can be addressed and improved. But what is important to note is that each turnout presents its own challenges when you are looking to improve.
Different Strategies for Different Turnouts
It’s easy to see how the femur or top of the leg moves when you do a standing leg turnout. You can notice the placement and shape of the bone as it moves in the hip socket. One of the most common issues here is a restriction at the front of the hip, usually down to tightness in the muscle and fascia.
To improve this you need two things – hydration and mobilisation. This must be gentle to prevent the potential for injury and you should always work within your comfort zone. Gradually, you should be able to target that front hip area and begin to improve.
Restriction can also occur at the back of the hip, however, and this requires a different technique to increase the range of movement and that involves gapping the back area of the joint.
If we then look at other types of turnout, we can see that you need to have a different approach for each. There is no one size fits all solution that will magically improve the range of movement. For example:
- Turnout in retire: You’re likely to witness a restriction in the groin area. This can be very tight in many new dancers and it can also be a sign that there is an inherent instability in the hip area that needs to be addressed. This requires careful manipulation while also building muscle strength in the relevant areas and can be more difficult to achieve.
- Turnout devant: This can be affected by several things including pinching at the hip in the front or difficulty stretching at the back of the hip. Each person tends to be different and may have one or more issues that they have to resolve before more flexibility comes naturally.
- Turnout in second: This can often be limited by having too much tone in the glute area.
- Arabesque: This can be more difficult because the bone sits in a different place in the socket and is highly dependent on fine muscle movement.
As you can see, improving your turnouts is about identifying the problem first and then finding solutions. It means working through different muscle groups and movements and finally achieving a balance.