Dancer to Dancer

Dear Katie: I Can't Stop Forcing My Turnout!

Jayme Thornton

In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email dearkatie@dancespirit.com for a chance to be featured!


Dear Katie,

I'm starting to have knee problems because I've been forcing my turnout. I know I need to retrain my muscles so I can hold my turnout correctly—but I don't know how to do that. Help!

Maddy

Dear Maddy,

A lot of students force their turnout and aren't even aware of it—so you're actually ahead of the game! I'm guessing you already know that you need to rotate from the top of your leg, not your knee. (Oh, that classic correction: "From the hips, dear.") But engaging the right muscles to hold that turnout can be tough. When you're at the barre, think about your inner thighs rotating forward. As I tell younger students, "Pretend you have two smiley-face stickers on your inner thighs, and make sure they're always looking at each other!" Also, focus on lifting up through the waist. The more space you can give your legs, the easier it'll be to turn out. Make sure your hips aren't too tight, either. My turnout always improves a few degrees after I roll my hips out. Lying on your side, place a tennis ball under one hip and massage the muscles and ligaments gently. (Trust me, you'll feel it!)To strengthen your rotator muscles, which control your turnout, try this exercise: Lie on your side and bend your knees, bringing them slightly in front of you. Lift your feet and shins off the floor. Keeping your heels glued together, open and close the top leg. I'd recommend doing 20 repetitions, and then stretching out your hips.

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