In our "Dear Katie" series, Miami City Ballet soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured!
I'm confused about what my hips are supposed to do during grand battements and développés à la seconde. My teacher is always telling me to "drop the hip," but how is that physically possible when your leg is higher than 90 degrees? Even in photos of professional dancers with gorgeous extension, I see a raised hip on the working side. Am I misunderstanding something?
It's tricky to find that sweet spot in développé à la seconde. Unfortunately, there's no straightforward answer here, because different ballet techniques have different rules. In the Vaganova method, the hips are indeed "stacked," with one hip lifting so the leg can extend flat to the side. (But the hips should never be allowed to stick out toward the back.) In the Balanchine technique, as well as several other styles, the hip must be down in à la seconde, and sometimes the leg is moved slightly in front of the shoulder to allow that to happen.
Whatever the style, the key to a beautiful développé in à la seconde is to think of your supporting side. The more you take the focus off the working side, the less likely you'll be to hold the position by gripping your quads. Work on lifting the leg from underneath—ultimately, that alignment is more important than the position of the hips.
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