Q: One of my older students has pain in her right hip whenever she does a front battement or the splits, or when in downward dog. What do you think is going on?
A: My best guess is that your student probably has an inflamed bursa (a fluid-filled sac that lies between tendons and bones which reduces friction during movement). There is a bursa that lies underneath the iliopsoas tendon in the front of the hip. When you're in hip flexion (a battement to the front, downward dog, the splits or, in some cases, just sitting too long), the bursa is compressed. When a bursa gets irritated and inflamed, you have bursitis.
To explore if your dancer has bursitis, encourage her to work on releasing and lengthening the hip flexors while temporarily stopping movement that irritates the hip. Once she's done this, watch for possible causes of why it happened in the first place. Does she have tight hip flexors? Does she have an extra-flexible body that needs balance from stability? How well does she ground her weight through the floor?
You need to be patient with bursitis, but it is an injury in which full recovery can be achieved.