Health & Body

Ask Deb: How Do I Help Dancers With Knock Knees?

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I have a student who is moderately knock-kneed and has trouble closing in fifth position without bending her legs. She has a swayback, and her turnout isn't very strong. Do you have any advice?


As a teacher, knock knees can be particularly challenging to work with, because they stem from a structural condition that won't change. Further, all of the concerns you've raised can be connected back to this central issue. Because of her knock knees, you've observed that your student releases her knees, which shifts the pelvis forward into a lordotic (swayback) posture.

If she's able to stand with her pelvis more upright in third position, then have her work there as she develops more strength in the turnout muscles. Encourage her to do extra hip-flexor stretching—especially for the iliopsoas muscle—and teach her to self-correct her alignment by monitoring her feet and making sure the weight is evenly placed between the pad of the big toe, little toe and heel. This will prevent her from rolling in on her feet, which tends to go hand in hand with a knock-kneed alignment.

Teaching Tips
A 2019 Dancewave training. Photo by Effy Grey, courtesy Dancewave

By now, most dance educators hopefully understand that they have a responsibility to address racism in the studio. But knowing that you need to be actively cultivating racial equity isn't the same thing as knowing how to do so.

Of course, there's no easy answer, and no perfect approach. As social justice advocate David King emphasized at a recent interactive webinar, "Cultivating Racial Equity in the Classroom," this work is never-ending. The event, hosted by Dancewave (which just launched a new racial-equity curriculum) was a good starting point, though, and offered some helpful takeaways for dance educators committed to racial justice.

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Higher Ed
The author, Robyn Watson. Photo courtesy Watson

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