How to improve ballet turnout

Having great turnout is the goal for every dancer.

Why? Because turnout, also known as the rotation of your feet and legs outward and away from the body, not only gives you a wider first position, but is the baseline for all other technique in ballet. Building your turnout helps with leg extension, executing pirouettes, leaps, and altogether makes each line look cleaner and prettier! It’s safe to say that it’s pretty important…

However, improving your turnout doesn’t happen overnight, like most ballet technique, it takes time and hard work to train your muscles to extend further than they naturally do. But there’s still hope! There are plenty of exercises you can do at home or in the studio, to work your turnout and make you an even stronger dancer.

Exercises to Improve Turnout

Here are a few ways you can improve your turnout!

Strengthen Your Rotators to Improve Turnout

The key to better turnout is building strength and one way to do that is by exercising your hip rotators, just like barre routines often do. But there are also floor exercises that focus specifically on your hip rotators. The exercise, known as the “Clam Exercise” , very aptly named, will help immensely. Lie on the floor on either side to start, with your knees bent at a forty-five-degree angle, creating a diamond shape with your legs. Then slowly open your knees and bring them back together. To really increase the intensity of the stretch, you can use a TheraBand and tie it around both legs just above the knees. This will create a resistance that will work your hips even further. Then, as always, repeat on the other side.

Floor Exercises for Improving Your Turnout

First, to start this stretch , sit in the butterfly position on the floor, put your feet together, pressing down on both knees. Then fold the legs on top of each other from that position. You can keep the legs parallel, stacked on top of each other, or if this pressure feels uncomfortable, you can stretch the legs out further. You can also stretch your arms forward while the legs are stacked to increase the intensity. Be sure to switch off between stacking both your right and left leg, so that way you’re evenly stretched on both sides. The great thing is, you don’t need to be in the studio for this one. You can easily work these exercises into your daily routine, whether you do them right before bed, or while you’re watching TV. Over time, this exercise should make your pirouettes easier, because you have stretched so much, your turnout will come to you more naturally!

Tendu

Tendu combinations are part of every ballet class, because they require you to really concentrate on the turning out of both the hips and the legs. If you’re ever sick of doing tendu’s remember that they’re great for improving your turnout! Even if you’re not a beginner, a great way to work on your turnout is to do a slower tendu routine. At the barre, make sure your tail bone is tucked under and your shoulders are back, creating a straight line. Start in fifth position. Tendu front, plié, then straighten the legs, and tendu to the front again, two slow, and one fast. Then repeat this again to the side, ending with your foot in back so you can reverse your tendu’s by starting with the inside leg. As an extra challenge, repeat this exercise but slow down each tendu. If you feel it, then you’re doing something right!

Ron de Jambe

Another great exercise to do at the barre are ron de jambe’s . Much line the tendu combo, the goal is to practice at a slower pace, forcing you to really think about the movement of your hips. Practice ron de jambe’s at the barre, front to back and back to front, lifted off of the ground at a forty-five-degree angle. Here, the focus is not on the height of your ron de jambe, but controlling the hip as it moves front, side, and back, making sure that the hip is not lifted and stays in line throughout the exercise. For an extra stretch, use a TheraBand, placed just above the knees!

Final Thoughts: Exercises to Improve Turnout

There’s no one way to improve turnout, but these exercises are great tools to help build your flexibility and stamina. Do what works for you, at your own pace, and before you know it, your turnout will be that much better!

Looking for some more helpful information? Check out the articles below:

It seems that everyone is desperately on the hunt for solutions to all of their turnout woes. After a few clients were delighted with finding more rotation after just a little exploration and education, it got me thinking as to how I could share what I teach in the clinic, with all of those who can’t get in to see me.

So I created a little EBook called ” Tips For Turnout ” explaining all about how to improve your range, train your true turnout muscles and control turnout in high extensions. This is a great way to introduce you to some practical ways to get more range and control in your hips. It’s just $9 so that everyone can afford to learn the right way of working their hips.

However, I still wanted to share a few tips here!

So what is the issue with turnout? Why is it such an elusive quality and why are there so many myths about it floating around in the dance world? And perhaps more importantly, how can those of us with less than perfect rotation dance to our hearts desire without constantly irritating our hips?

How to improve ballet turnout

From my point of view, as a physiotherapist who works with dancers every day, there are a few main categories of people who have issues with turnout.

1. The “It-just-doesn’t-happen. ” people – With these dancers, no matter what stretches they do, their hips just seem to get tighter and tighter. They sit cross-legged and their knees go nowhere near the floor, and a lot of the time any stretches they try to do give them pain in the front of the hips…

2. The “It’s-OK-in-some-positions” people – These dancers finds turning out very frustrating. Sometimes it’s there and sometimes it’s not. They may find it easy to sit in second splits, but struggle to stand in 5th position. Or they can hold it in 5th yet not in a developpé devant.

3. The “It-just-hurts-to-go-there. ” people – This group may have good range, but whenever they try to train their hips, they seem to get more sore, especially in the front of the hips…

4. The “I-just-need-to-crack-them-first” people -This group will have a religious warm up that involves popping the hips either to the front or back to ‘release’ them before they can work in turnout. This may appear to work well for a while but it has diminishing returns… Often after a few months or years, they need to pop them more often, and may find that the pops are not quite as effective as they once were, or may find that the frequently popped area may start getting sore due to being repeatedly overstretched.

5. The “I’ve-got-so-much-I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-it” people – These dancers can also get very frustrated, as they are constantly told that they have great turnout, and can stretch into all kinds of wonderful positions, however they really struggle to show it when they are dancing, and often get told that they are just not trying.

So what is the solution? Do we all just give up and leave dancing to the ones who have ‘natural turnout’ and great control? Somehow I don’t think that that is an option for all of the millions of us who love to dance despite not having the most open hips! Instead we must discover a way to train each individual’s hips specifically, and to train dance teachers to be able to identify different types of hips early, allowing correct training of all students.

In this article we will be focussing on the first 2 groups of people described above and on ways that you can improve your turnout range safely.

The first thing we need to understand is the basic bony structure that gives our hips their stability. Most people know that the hip is a ball-and-socket joint, but they don’t realise just how different everyone’s’ ball-and-socket joints are. Some people have very deep stable sockets, some are more forward facing and some are more out to the side. Naturally open hips often have a shallow socket that faces more out to the side, but not always.

The biggest problem is that most of us ‘accept’ that our range is blocked by the bones when this is actually not the case. I had a massive rude awakening to just how much I had unconsciously accepted the fate of my not-so-flexible hips when at the ripe old age of 29 I had a massage that released lots of old, deep tension in my hips, giving me more range than I had at 16! This opened my mind to the possibilities for many other dancers, and lead to the development of a program to teach dancer how to open out their hips safely. (For more information on the Training Turnout Program CLICK HERE )

In this article let’s look at how to improve ballet turnout safely, and why turnout is so important for dancers all over the world.

This article may contain affiliate links.

Why Do Dancers Need Turnout?

Why is turnout so important for dancers, especially if you do ballet or contemporary? In fact, the word ‘turnout’ may be the most commonly heard phrase used in dance classes around the world.

Dancers have been working on their 180-degree ballet turnout since the inception of ballet, and this seems to be the most desired leg position to have, regardless of whether or not dancers are pushing their bodies beyond their natural limits.

The reason dancers need to have ballet turnout is that it improves the look of ballet, makes the lines prettier, softer, and more beautiful. Turnout also enables the dancer to lift her legs higher and thus achieve higher extensions.

A turned out leg looks far prettier than a turned in one and it looks longer too.

Where Does Turnout Come From?

Unfortunately, not many people are born with natural turnout in the hip joints, which is why it has to be properly trained from a young age for years.How to improve ballet turnout

Beginners tend to want to emulate the “perfect turnout” by forcing their knees outward.

Of course, this method is extremely difficult to maintain while dancing, and not only that but this method will cause knee injuries over time.

Some dancers think that a consistent routine of stretching exercises will open up the hip joint’s range of motion, but it is more than simply stretching.

Turnout should never ever be forced, but rather worked on by strengthening the surrounding muscles that support and hold turnout as well as training the muscle memory with a series of ballet drills so that this becomes a natural process for the dancer over time.

Turnout initiates from the hips, not the knees or feet.

In order to understand how to achieve the greatest turnout, let’s look at the anatomy as this can help dancers get a better understanding of how everything inside works.

Turnout is supported by six deep rotator muscles surrounding the hip joint namely:

  • Piriformis
  • Superior Gemellus
  • Inferior Gemellus
  • Obturator Internus
  • Obturator Externus
  • Quadratus Femoris.

In addition, the Gluteus Maximus, the Posterior Fibers of the Gluteus Medius, and the Long Head of the Biceps Femoris also assist in lateral rotation.

Improve Ballet Turnout Without Injury

While most young dancers tend to focus a lot on flexibility, it is important to realize that to be truly effective and avoid injury, the muscles must not only be stretched but strengthened as well.

Always remember that with stretching comes flexibility and with strength comes stability. Both have to work together to shape the true powerhouse of a dancer.

It would be useless to gain a lot of flexibility and not actually have the strength to hold the position.

Here is a great turnout and flexibility test you can try that comes from the Easy Flexibility Program.

You will need two yoga blocks for this exercise.

The yoga blocks above can be ordered online simply by clicking on the picture if you don’t have any.

Sit on the floor with the legs extended to the front with your hands on the floor behind your hips. Place one foot on each block and turn the legs out, with the goal of placing the outer edge of the foot on the block and heels slightly hanging over the inside edge.

Keeping this position, lift the hips off of the floor and hold for up to thirty seconds. For more of a challenge, move the feet further off of the blocks, bringing the heels closer together. If this position is only able to be held for a short period, there is work to do on those turnout muscles. This test is an excellent gauge to track turnout strength over time.

Other exercises for strength in turnout can be performed in your regular ballet class. Plié and fondu are both wonderful basics that strengthen the deep rotators as well as the gluteal muscles, which is why every ballet class you attend will have these exercises incorporated into your barre work.

Each time the dancer bends, there is a chance to stretch and lengthen as the hip joint opens to the side.

As the dancer stretches again, the gluteus maximus and piriformis are working hard to stabilize in the newly found space within the joint.

If you want to give these tried and tested exercises more bang for their buck and to improve ballet turnout, finish with a balance with the leg in retiré. This will work these muscles even harder by introducing an isometric hold, connecting back to the earlier block exercise.

Not all dancers are built the same, and some may have tighter muscles in the hip joint than others.

It is important to remember to work within your own range and strengthen the muscles in your own time, not try to compete with the girl standing in front of you that seems to have a 180-degree turnout.

Work hard, learn to use the right muscles, and over time your ballet turnout will improve and strengthen, without risking long term damage to your body.

If you are a dancer, especially a ballet dancer, then you will know the endless fights you have with yourself to improve your ballet turnout. In this article, we will look at the right and wrong ways to turnout your feet, and also try some exercises to improve your ballet turnout.

What Is Ballet Turnout?

How to improve ballet turnout

Ballet turnout is the rotation of the leg at the hips which causes the feet to turn outward, away from the front of the body.

This rotation allows for greater extension of the leg, especially when raising it to the side and rear. Turnout is an essential part of the classical ballet technique. Without turnout, ballet simply does not look like, well, ballet.

The more turned out the dancer’s legs are, the more pleasing to the eye the dancer is to watch.

When a child first starts ballet he or she will learn about the first position as pictured below. It may be one of the first things you learn in a ballet class but turnout in ballet is one of the most difficult things to master because turning out is a very unnatural thing to do for most people.

How to improve ballet turnoutContrary to belief, the dancer is taught not to only turn the feet out, but to turn the entire leg out from the hip joint.

The knees should be facing the middle toe at all times and the dancer will have to elongate the lower spine and rotate the femur in the hip joint in order to get his or her maximum turnout.

The dancer will do most of her ballet class with her feet in a turned out position. This, in turn, trains the muscles to hold the turnout when more intricate steps are performed later.

In the photo below, you will see a classic example of a dancer who is trying to turn out more than they are able. You will notice that the arches are collapsing forward causing a huge strain on the knees.

How to improve ballet turnoutVery few people have a natural 180-degree turnout, as this dancer is trying to demonstrate.

The turnout happens in the hip area and if the bone structure in your hip limits your turnout in any way, you have to learn to work with what you have got.

Never ever force the turnout, as you will only cause long term and permanent damage to your knees and maybe even your hips, not to mention the alignment in your feet.

A dancer who forces their turnout will have a better chance of injury while also decreasing their own overall ability to do steps.

What If I Don’t Have Perfect Turnout?

Remember that it’s okay not to have perfect turnout. There are many famous ballerina’s that didn’t have perfect turnout, but they still had that star quality. One example of this is the late great Margot Fonteyn.

Many dancers may try to force turnout because they’re trying to be perfect. Well, the sooner a dancer realizes that perfection doesn’t exist in ballet, the sooner they can relax and properly use what they have.

This takes some practice and maybe some internal searching, especially for professionals. The best way to get over it is to make a simple “would I rather” list. For example… Would you rather force your turnout or jump higher? Would you rather force your turnout or dance longer? Force your turnout or be more stable on your legs? Force your turnout or have less risk of injury?

Ballet Turnout Exercises To Try?

First, try this simple exercise for more functional turnout.

Stand at the barre in your usual over turned out fifth position and plie. Feel where your knees are, whether you are square or not and if your back is arching and your butt sticking out.

Try to feel how “strong” you feel in this position. Could someone walk right by and knock you over with a little push?

Now, let your feet turn in one inch on either side. Plie again and now try to feel how it feels in comparison to when you were forcing your feet open. Does it feel like you could spring off the floor easier? Do your back and hips feel less pressure? If you’re most dancers, the answer to these will be “Yes!”

Almost every dancer is guilty of forcing the turnout at some point or another.

If you want to have a longer career with fewer injuries while also gaining more function and strength, don’t force your turnout. Turn it in an inch and you may be amazed.How to improve ballet turnout

Just remember that pushing your turnout isn’t the same as forcing it.

Never turn out to the point that your hips, knees, and ankles aren’t aligned in a plié, your hips are tucked under, your feet are rolled in or your back is swayed.

The trick is to use the maximum turnout that you naturally have and work in that range.

Most good dancers don’t have perfect turnout—they just have the muscle control to make the best of their existing rotation.

The stronger your turnout muscles are, the easier the steps will be to do.

Having turnout and working with the correct amount of turnout and the correct muscles give you a greater range of motion and allow you to move more freely, bigger, and faster.

Checklist For Dancers When Standing In 5th Position

  • Is the pelvis in neutral?
  • Is the tailbone down but not tucked?
  • Are the hips opening like a book from the center of the body?
  • Is the upper body lifted?
  • Is the weight over the front part of the foot and not on the heels?

Products To Purchase Online To Help With Your Turnout

Ballet Turnout Training Boards 2 Discs

This excellent tool teaches the foot, ankle, and hip to work together correctly and also shows up the incorrect alignment you may or may not have.

The boards are 8 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick. There are two boards in a package.

There is a video below with examples of how these boards can improve your ballet turnout.

Reliable4Life Stretch Bands for Ballet and Dance with Resistance Band Included, Perfect for Kids and Adults, Improves Splits, Flexibility and Strength plus Carry Bag and Illustrated eBook, set of 2

How To Improve Your Turnout

This is a wonderful video done by Kathryn Morgan to show you what sort of exercises you should be doing to improve your ballet turnout. In these exercises, you will be using both the bands and the ballet turnout board featured above.

In this article let’s look at how to improve ballet turnout safely, and why turnout is so important for dancers all over the world.

This article may contain affiliate links.

Why Do Dancers Need Turnout?

Why is turnout so important for dancers, especially if you do ballet or contemporary? In fact, the word ‘turnout’ may be the most commonly heard phrase used in dance classes around the world.

Dancers have been working on their 180-degree ballet turnout since the inception of ballet, and this seems to be the most desired leg position to have, regardless of whether or not dancers are pushing their bodies beyond their natural limits.

The reason dancers need to have ballet turnout is that it improves the look of ballet, makes the lines prettier, softer, and more beautiful. Turnout also enables the dancer to lift her legs higher and thus achieve higher extensions.

A turned out leg looks far prettier than a turned in one and it looks longer too.

Where Does Turnout Come From?

Unfortunately, not many people are born with natural turnout in the hip joints, which is why it has to be properly trained from a young age for years.How to improve ballet turnout

Beginners tend to want to emulate the “perfect turnout” by forcing their knees outward.

Of course, this method is extremely difficult to maintain while dancing, and not only that but this method will cause knee injuries over time.

Some dancers think that a consistent routine of stretching exercises will open up the hip joint’s range of motion, but it is more than simply stretching.

Turnout should never ever be forced, but rather worked on by strengthening the surrounding muscles that support and hold turnout as well as training the muscle memory with a series of ballet drills so that this becomes a natural process for the dancer over time.

Turnout initiates from the hips, not the knees or feet.

In order to understand how to achieve the greatest turnout, let’s look at the anatomy as this can help dancers get a better understanding of how everything inside works.

Turnout is supported by six deep rotator muscles surrounding the hip joint namely:

  • Piriformis
  • Superior Gemellus
  • Inferior Gemellus
  • Obturator Internus
  • Obturator Externus
  • Quadratus Femoris.

In addition, the Gluteus Maximus, the Posterior Fibers of the Gluteus Medius, and the Long Head of the Biceps Femoris also assist in lateral rotation.

Improve Ballet Turnout Without Injury

While most young dancers tend to focus a lot on flexibility, it is important to realize that to be truly effective and avoid injury, the muscles must not only be stretched but strengthened as well.

Always remember that with stretching comes flexibility and with strength comes stability. Both have to work together to shape the true powerhouse of a dancer.

It would be useless to gain a lot of flexibility and not actually have the strength to hold the position.

Here is a great turnout and flexibility test you can try that comes from the Easy Flexibility Program.

You will need two yoga blocks for this exercise.

The yoga blocks above can be ordered online simply by clicking on the picture if you don’t have any.

Sit on the floor with the legs extended to the front with your hands on the floor behind your hips. Place one foot on each block and turn the legs out, with the goal of placing the outer edge of the foot on the block and heels slightly hanging over the inside edge.

Keeping this position, lift the hips off of the floor and hold for up to thirty seconds. For more of a challenge, move the feet further off of the blocks, bringing the heels closer together. If this position is only able to be held for a short period, there is work to do on those turnout muscles. This test is an excellent gauge to track turnout strength over time.

Other exercises for strength in turnout can be performed in your regular ballet class. Plié and fondu are both wonderful basics that strengthen the deep rotators as well as the gluteal muscles, which is why every ballet class you attend will have these exercises incorporated into your barre work.

Each time the dancer bends, there is a chance to stretch and lengthen as the hip joint opens to the side.

As the dancer stretches again, the gluteus maximus and piriformis are working hard to stabilize in the newly found space within the joint.

If you want to give these tried and tested exercises more bang for their buck and to improve ballet turnout, finish with a balance with the leg in retiré. This will work these muscles even harder by introducing an isometric hold, connecting back to the earlier block exercise.

Not all dancers are built the same, and some may have tighter muscles in the hip joint than others.

It is important to remember to work within your own range and strengthen the muscles in your own time, not try to compete with the girl standing in front of you that seems to have a 180-degree turnout.

Work hard, learn to use the right muscles, and over time your ballet turnout will improve and strengthen, without risking long term damage to your body.

Turnout—a combination of rotational flexibility and the strength to properly hold that rotation—is the foundation for ballet techniques. In physical terms “turn-out” is rotation of the legs at the hips which causes the legs to turn outward. It gives you a greater range of motion, allows you to move faster and bigger. The stronger your hip turnout, the easier all the steps will be, it will allow you to move confidently and improve the results in all ballet steps.

How to improve ballet turnout

Strong supporting muscles around your hips will not just prevent you from any potential injuries but also improve hip stability, the shape of your thighs, sculpting and perfecting beautiful ballerina legs.

Here’s a simple stretch exercise to improve the rage of your hip rotators:

Kneel and place a pillow under your left knee. If needed, hold a barre or chair to maintain balance.

With both legs turned in, lunge forward on your right leg until your right knee forms a 90-degree angle. Rest your hands on your right knee. Keep your hips level and tuck your tailbone under.

Continue to push forward into the right leg until you feel a gentle stretch in the outer front part of your left hip, and/or in your left thigh. Be sure to keep your back upright and your hips square.

Hold this position, keeping your buttocks tight, for 15 seconds. Repeat three to four times.

Repeat the stretch on the right knee.

Regular stretching improves flexibility in the hip join area, whilst professionally guided strengthening exercises brings stability. Combining both together creates long lasting results.

Check out our latest online class focused to improve your ballet legs & hip turn out HERE

If you are a dancer, especially a ballet dancer, then you will know the endless fights you have with yourself to improve your ballet turnout. In this article, we will look at the right and wrong ways to turnout your feet, and also try some exercises to improve your ballet turnout.

What Is Ballet Turnout?

How to improve ballet turnout

Ballet turnout is the rotation of the leg at the hips which causes the feet to turn outward, away from the front of the body.

This rotation allows for greater extension of the leg, especially when raising it to the side and rear. Turnout is an essential part of the classical ballet technique. Without turnout, ballet simply does not look like, well, ballet.

The more turned out the dancer’s legs are, the more pleasing to the eye the dancer is to watch.

When a child first starts ballet he or she will learn about the first position as pictured below. It may be one of the first things you learn in a ballet class but turnout in ballet is one of the most difficult things to master because turning out is a very unnatural thing to do for most people.

How to improve ballet turnoutContrary to belief, the dancer is taught not to only turn the feet out, but to turn the entire leg out from the hip joint.

The knees should be facing the middle toe at all times and the dancer will have to elongate the lower spine and rotate the femur in the hip joint in order to get his or her maximum turnout.

The dancer will do most of her ballet class with her feet in a turned out position. This, in turn, trains the muscles to hold the turnout when more intricate steps are performed later.

In the photo below, you will see a classic example of a dancer who is trying to turn out more than they are able. You will notice that the arches are collapsing forward causing a huge strain on the knees.

How to improve ballet turnoutVery few people have a natural 180-degree turnout, as this dancer is trying to demonstrate.

The turnout happens in the hip area and if the bone structure in your hip limits your turnout in any way, you have to learn to work with what you have got.

Never ever force the turnout, as you will only cause long term and permanent damage to your knees and maybe even your hips, not to mention the alignment in your feet.

A dancer who forces their turnout will have a better chance of injury while also decreasing their own overall ability to do steps.

What If I Don’t Have Perfect Turnout?

Remember that it’s okay not to have perfect turnout. There are many famous ballerina’s that didn’t have perfect turnout, but they still had that star quality. One example of this is the late great Margot Fonteyn.

Many dancers may try to force turnout because they’re trying to be perfect. Well, the sooner a dancer realizes that perfection doesn’t exist in ballet, the sooner they can relax and properly use what they have.

This takes some practice and maybe some internal searching, especially for professionals. The best way to get over it is to make a simple “would I rather” list. For example… Would you rather force your turnout or jump higher? Would you rather force your turnout or dance longer? Force your turnout or be more stable on your legs? Force your turnout or have less risk of injury?

Ballet Turnout Exercises To Try?

First, try this simple exercise for more functional turnout.

Stand at the barre in your usual over turned out fifth position and plie. Feel where your knees are, whether you are square or not and if your back is arching and your butt sticking out.

Try to feel how “strong” you feel in this position. Could someone walk right by and knock you over with a little push?

Now, let your feet turn in one inch on either side. Plie again and now try to feel how it feels in comparison to when you were forcing your feet open. Does it feel like you could spring off the floor easier? Do your back and hips feel less pressure? If you’re most dancers, the answer to these will be “Yes!”

Almost every dancer is guilty of forcing the turnout at some point or another.

If you want to have a longer career with fewer injuries while also gaining more function and strength, don’t force your turnout. Turn it in an inch and you may be amazed.How to improve ballet turnout

Just remember that pushing your turnout isn’t the same as forcing it.

Never turn out to the point that your hips, knees, and ankles aren’t aligned in a plié, your hips are tucked under, your feet are rolled in or your back is swayed.

The trick is to use the maximum turnout that you naturally have and work in that range.

Most good dancers don’t have perfect turnout—they just have the muscle control to make the best of their existing rotation.

The stronger your turnout muscles are, the easier the steps will be to do.

Having turnout and working with the correct amount of turnout and the correct muscles give you a greater range of motion and allow you to move more freely, bigger, and faster.

Checklist For Dancers When Standing In 5th Position

  • Is the pelvis in neutral?
  • Is the tailbone down but not tucked?
  • Are the hips opening like a book from the center of the body?
  • Is the upper body lifted?
  • Is the weight over the front part of the foot and not on the heels?

Products To Purchase Online To Help With Your Turnout

Ballet Turnout Training Boards 2 Discs

This excellent tool teaches the foot, ankle, and hip to work together correctly and also shows up the incorrect alignment you may or may not have.

The boards are 8 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick. There are two boards in a package.

There is a video below with examples of how these boards can improve your ballet turnout.

Reliable4Life Stretch Bands for Ballet and Dance with Resistance Band Included, Perfect for Kids and Adults, Improves Splits, Flexibility and Strength plus Carry Bag and Illustrated eBook, set of 2

How To Improve Your Turnout

This is a wonderful video done by Kathryn Morgan to show you what sort of exercises you should be doing to improve your ballet turnout. In these exercises, you will be using both the bands and the ballet turnout board featured above.

How to Improve your Turnout Range

Many dancers and dance teachers are overjoyed when they find out how much turnout they actually do have, after a private session in the clinic or on one of our workshops. And when they discover that it has the potential of getting even better, the smiles get even wider!

My way of safely improving range in the hips has changed dramatically due to my own experience. I grew up thinking that I had terrible range and then found out many years down the track that this was simply not true. As a young dance student, I was told that I just didn’t have good turnout and that it was my bones, so there was nothing much I could do about it. I accepted this and pursued physiotherapy as a career, rather than pushing for a career as a performer.

Then, when I was 26, one of my staff members gave me a 4-hour massage. We never intended it to be for 4 hours, but I had paid for him to go through a massage therapy training course, and he was simply showing me everything they learned. After he had worked through many different areas around my hips I hopped off the bed, did a grand plié and my knees went sideways for the first time ever. I burst into tears, with the sudden revelation that I had always had this range, but never been able to access it due to the tension I had in my hips from trying so hard.

While it was a little late for me performance-wise, this experience completely changed how I work with dancers and helping them maximise the range and control that they have to work with.

When I start working with someone, I spend some time closely assessing how much range they have in each direction, and what tissues are actually restricting it in each direction. This allows us to work intelligently to come up with an effective plan to work on each restriction

It is important to remember that there are actually 7 different ranges of turnout, and each of them needs to be worked on separately. These 7 different ranges are:

  • Standing leg turnout
  • Turnout en fondu
  • Turnout in retiré
  • Turnout devant
  • Sitting in second
  • A la’ seconde
  • Arabesque

Our priority is always standing leg turnout first, and our aim is to work out what is the available range, what is the restriction, and what is the best way of working with that.

When looking at your standing leg turnout we need to look at what is happening at the top of the femur and how it articulates with the hip socket. The shape and placement of the bones are important, however, most often there is a lot of restriction in the muscles and fascia around the front of the hip. Gentle mobilisation and hydration of these tissues can have a dramatic influence on your range of motion. However, sometimes the restriction is at the back of the hip and it needs a totally different set of mobilisation techniques aimed at gapping the back of the joint to improve range.

When looking at turnout in retire, the leg is in quite a different position. The restriction in this position is often deep in the front of the hip or groin, however, I rarely go in and release the deep hip flexors directly. When this area is chronically tight, it may be an indication of instability in the hip and back. Ultimately, we will work on mobilising the hip, but we don’t want to remove the body’s strategy for holding itself together before building the necessary layers of strength and stability underneath.

How to improve ballet turnout

If we look at turnout devant, this is a really interesting position. A lot of people have way more range in this position than they realise. However, the most interesting thing is the number of different structures that can be limiting range devant. Some dancers experience pinching in the front of the hip, others feel a stretch in the back of the hip, others may feel pain coming down to the knee. We need to work very carefully on safely improving your range of motion if needed, but often it is more of a case of learning how to control the range you already have.

When assessing a dancer’s range in second, many people have more range in the joints than they think. Often range is being blocked by excessive tone on the gluteals, resulting from attempts to muscle their way into turnout but inadvertently using the wrong muscles.

In an arabesque, the hip has to sit in quite a different place in the socket than all of the other ranges of turnout. Placement in arabesque is also dependent on very fine muscle control through the whole backline, rather than just in the hip

In summary, if you want better turnout:

  1. Chances are you have a whole lot more than you realise!
  1. Keep in mind that some soft tissue work (massage) by a trained professional can really help in opening out your hips to their full capacity
  1. It is essential that we work out exactly what your restriction is, and safe ways of improving it
  1. We also need to work out why those structures are holding on so tightly in the first place! Are there underlying weaknesses that need to be worked on first? This strategy ensures that you can continually get better over time, rather than complaining of tension in the same areas constantly.

Remember that pushing in the direction you want to go is often the slowest and most dangerous way of getting there. We need to work smarter, not harder, when working on your turnout!

For more information on improving your turnout, make sure to download the Tips For Turnout EBook which also goes into more detail about actually isolating and strengthening your true turnout muscles. Our Training Turnout Manual goes into even more detail about how to improve your range of turnout in each direction, and how to train your turnout in all directions.