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The paradox of using turnout is that it is physiologically unnatural, yet proper turnout is what makes ballet unique and allows a dancer to move in all directions. If it doesn't come from the correct muscles, it can overwork the wrong ones. Therefore, it is important to consciously engage the hip abductors and gluteal muscles in turnout. To strengthen the right muscles, you will want to exercise and stretch.
This exercise is a good warm-up for turnout muscles. Stand with feet parallel and closer than hip-distance apart. Rock your weight back to your heels. Using the muscles of your outside thighs and buttocks, twist feet outward into first position. Fan feet in and out like windshield wipers. Make sure the movement is coming from your upper legs and buttocks and not your knees. Repeat movement 16 times.
Tendu En Qua
Start in first position with heels together and toes outward. Perform a tendu with your right leg extended and toes pointed toward the floor. Keep your toes on the floor; engage your right hip abductors and gluteal muscles; and rotate your right leg inward until you engage your right hip adductors. Turn the leg in and out eight times. The pattern for this exercise is вЂњen quaвЂќ which means вЂњall sides.вЂќ Thus repeat the movement in tendu front, side, back, side for each leg.
Lie on your back, and bring both legs up to a 90-degree angle L-shape. Keep legs turned in, flex your feet and engage your core muscles through your pelvic floor and low back. Using your hip abductor and gluteal muscles, turn your legs out with heels together. Repeat 16 times.
When you contract your turnout muscles, they shorten. So it is important to stretch those muscles after exercising to lengthen them. Without stretching you will lose strength over time. In a crossed-leg position, bring your right knee to center and stack the other on top to tighten the crossed-leg posture. Lengthen through your spine to lift up and fold your body forward from your hips. Hold for 30 to 90 seconds.
Lie on your back with knees drawn up and feet on the floor. Lift your right ankle and rest it on your left thigh to resemble an upside-down figure four. Reach both hands around the back of the left thigh with your right arm through the triangle created with your right leg. Lift your left foot and pull your thigh toward your chest. Hold for 30 to 90 seconds. Repeat on the left.