Teaching Tips

Dance Teachers Weigh in on a Common Dilemma: To Tilt or Not to Tilt?

Whether at a competition or on a recent episode of "So You Think You Can Dance," you're highly likely to see a tilt (or 13) pop up somewhere onstage. Or as one Dance Teacher commenter referred to it on Facebook, the "Look, Ma, you can see my uterus" pose. Regardless of the visual aesthetic, if not taught correctly, the trick can promote hip problems and injuries.

DT asked its Facebook followers to give their opinions of the ever popular, yet controversial step. Here are the standout comments, including a safe way to teach to your students.


The majority felt they are unattractive or unsafe:

"I am not a fan of the tilt at all. I am much more impressed by a square-hipped leg hold. It requires much more technique to accomplish and has a more aesthetic line. I struggle so much as a teacher with children who can attain these positions, but have absolutely no core strength. That, or they don't have the muscular strength to even hold their leg above 90 degrees with straight hips...but they can pull off this illusion. To me, it is a cheat."

—Kay Kissick, substitute teacher at Bluegrass Youth Ballet


Some made exceptions:

"Hate them! Unless it's in modern Horton technique and the tilt comes from the torso, not from hiking your hip up like a puppy peeing on a fire hydrant."

—Jessica Malone Kynaston, ballet teacher at Sherian's School of Dance

"Hate it in ballet. Had squared hips drilled into me from an early age. One never sacrificed square hips for more height on extensions. Now everybody does it. So, I am old, I guess. I tolerate the tilt better in other dance styles. Adult dancer friends have nicknamed the photos "crotch shots." I used to call it the "Standing Pelvic Exam," when I first started seeing it on "So You Think You Can Dance" or things like "Look, Ma, you can see my uterus from here!" I have seen parents in audiences hide their faces in their hands when it happens among their young dancers."

—Louise A. Schwendeman, retired sports massage and neuromuscular therapist



Others didn't hold back:

"No tilts for me, thanks."

—Elizabeth Borromeo, educator, teaching artist and choreographer at Liz Borromeo Dance

"Never tilt."

Lucille Naar-Saladino, former Radio City Rockette

"As a ballet teacher, I work really hard teaching girls to keep their hips in the correct alignment. I think it's very unattractive and expect that it will cause problems down the road."

Delane Simms Califf, Northern Neck Youth Performing Arts Foundation


And if you've never taught a tilt before, here is a basic how-to:

"Tilts are good if they are done correctly. If you use the Graham and Horton technique, the hips should stay in the correct place. It's easier to physically move the dancer to show them than to explain. But I teach it by starting in a turned-out tendu, and standing leg is turned out, as well. As you lift the working leg, you must hold the turn-out. Only tilt your upper body to match the height of the leg, so you don't break the line. Stay on a flat plane, don't twist head, shoulders or core forward, pretend like you are in a toaster. As long as tilts are done properly, they look great in modern and contemporary choreography."

—Hollie Greene, dance studio director at Dance Moves & Gymnastics


Where do you stand on teaching tilts?

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