Dancer Health
Deborah Vogel is a neuromuscular educator and director of The Body Series. Here, she works with Mariah Aivazis. Photo by Jim Lafferty

Turnout—the outward rotation of the hips that dancers are constantly striving to improve. Yet few actually have the 180-degree outward rotation that is so idealized. In her 40-plus years of working as a movement analyst, Deborah Vogel has only come across a handful of dancers who have it. "That's structural," she says. "They have a shallow hip socket, so the head of the thighbone can move in a greater range. The rotation at the hip for the general population, though, is 90 degrees—about 45 degrees in each direction."

Although a dancer's range of motion depends on her structure, Vogel says she can still improve her turnout. "They're not going to get to 180. But if they have good muscle balance, they can improve their ability to stand in greater than 90-degree turnout."

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Dancer Health
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Like many dancers, I was taught to hold my hips square when standing in fourth and fifth positions. However, in a recent professional development course, I was told the following:

"The hips cannot anatomically be square in fourth or fifth. The dancer must not try to hold them square—it is neither possible nor desirable. For pliés and all other movements in fourth, the pelvis will rotate toward the back leg. Rather than squaring off the hips, allow the hips to swing toward the back leg and square off the shoulders from the upper spine."

I would appreciate your input on this. —Katie

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