The Hip and Turnout

Dancers strive to have great turnout, which is the outward rotation of the hips to get their feet in as close of a straight line as possible. This goal is reached through a mix of hard work and just whether or not you body is built that way. There are many muscles in the hip that can help to gain better turnout.

The largest, most obvious muscle is the buttocks, which includes the large gluteal muscles such as hip extenders and external rotators. These muscles are in charge of bigger movements including lifting the leg to an arabesque position. The muscles in charge of turnout are the deep lateral rotators, which are small and burried under the gluteus maximus. There are six lateral rotator muscles, which are attached to different parts of the pelvis. They all then run laterally, joining the back of the hip joint capsule and the
ischiofemoral ligament. They all attach on or next to the greater trochanter of the femur. In addition to the six lateral rotators and the gluteus maximus, there are more muscles around the hip that also contribute to external rotation. The sartorius is an external rotator (hip flexor) that is thought to be particularly active when the hip is flexed inpositions such as a passé or front attitude. The adductor muscles on the inner thigh may contribute to external rotation as well. Straightening the legs from the bottom of plié is a good example of using adductors in outward rotation. The function of all six deep rotator muscles is to laterally rotate or turn out the leg, relative to the pelvis. It is hard for a dancer to isolate these particular muscles, which is why it is so difficult to attain flawless technique.

The majority of turnout comes from the hip joint, but there is also a bit that comes from the knee and the ankle. The maximum capacity of a dancers’ turnout comes from their personal strength and flexibility in the joints and muscles in these three areas of importance.


Click to access turnout_for_dancers_anatomy.pdf

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