The truth about turnout

I used to spend hours in front of the TV — not on the couch — but on the floor in “frog” position, as it has been coined. My goal was improving my turnout to be 180 rotation, which is something Dr. William G. Hamilton deemed unlikely to do in Dance Magazine.

Hamilton, the orthopedic consultant for New York City Ballet, said dancers can’t improve their turnout much. “The extent of this motion is limited by the alignment and architecture of the ball and socket joint itself,” he told the magazine.

I remember taking a mirror photo of my self  during high school in my butterfly position. I wanted to document what my position looked like before and after I attended a summer intensive at American Ballet Theatre. The humorous part is that I never took the after picture, only to find that the distance from my knees to the ground in the position hadn’t improved — at all.

I spent my spare time in college in the Ann Lacy School of American Dance and Arts Management doing homework in the frog position. I contracted my muscles, adjusting every two minutes or so, in hopes of improving the ease of steps like my rond de jambe en l’air. Little did I know that dancers only are able to tweak the extent of their turnout slightly until they are about 12 or 13, Hamilton said in Dance Magazine.

I suggest that you save your breath if you’re trying dramatically to improve your hip rotation in your college years. Conceal your less-than-180 degree turnout when performing an adagio by angling your body more toward the front than the side. Resist the temptation to rotate in too early when transitioning your leg from the side to back in rond de jame. And most importantly, remind yourself that you’ve surpassed the ripe age of 13, so it’s acceptable to not possess perfect turnout.