Let Me See Your Diamonds! Mastering improving turnout in adults in Ballet

ballet turnout

Whether a student is part of Alberta Ballet School’s professional division or they are dancing recreationally with us, they will hear their ballet teacher say “cheek to cheek smiles” or “let me see your diamonds”.

What do you think of when you hear these reminders? Trying to give your biggest toothy grin?

These are some of the clever ways our instructors prompt students to be aware of their turnout. Turnout is a combination of rotational flexibility and the strength to properly hold that rotation. Turnout truly is the foundation of ballet.

Mechanically speaking, turnout is the rotation of the leg that starts all the way at the hips and turns your feet out into alignment. Turnout is how you hold yourself. And, correct turnout sets the stage for most of ballet’s beautiful movements – but it also sets the stage for safe movements that won’t lead to injuries.

Turnout is an important skill that Alberta Ballet School. Our pre-school students start to practice aspects of their diamonds right away by practicing movements in a parallel position to encourage proper alignment – our adult classes are reminded of the importance of starting their turnout from the hips and not the knees to avoid potentially painful results – and our students in both professional and open division are challenged during each class to remember those cheek to cheek smiles so they can continue pushing themselves in their training in the safest way for their bodies.

Alberta Ballet School encourages all dancers at all levels of experience to think about turnout in a meaningful way and work to improve it. When you improve your turnout the way you dance improves – proper turnout develops the way your positions and techniques look, but it also drastically improves how your body feels when dancing. Beautiful turnout should be pain-free.

There are several things that an individual can start to think about when moving towards better turnout. Alberta Ballet School suggests you start with these:

  1. Visualize it

    Imagine a line coming down from the tops of your hips, down your leg, and all the way to your toes. Great turnout means that line is perfectly straight, and everything is aligned!

  2. Stretch and strengthen

    There are stretches and strength training exercises that can be done to improve alignment in turnouts, exercises that strengthen and stretch the muscles in your hips will naturally start to create good turnout.

  3. Keep practicing

    When it comes to a perfect turnout, it should never be forced. In our pre-school classes we start by teaching our students how to hold themselves parallel, and we build on that foundational movement year after year until they are strong enough and flexible enough to integrate a true turnout into their movements. Turnout is something that should be worked-on (and worked towards) throughout a dancer’s training. Alberta Ballet School would never force a student into positions that they were not ready for. Just keep practicing.

  4. Help from a pro

    If you are looking to improve your turnout, Alberta Ballet School recommends seeking direction from one of our professional teachers. Since incorrect turnout can lead to injuries, you should never go at it alone. An instructor can give you individual attention; their keen eye will see where your alignment can be improved and will work with you directly to help you achieve the perfect turnout.

Remember, in ballet alignment is everything! Your rotation should be coming from the hips and down through the leg – it should never come from the knees or you may be on your way to a painful injury.

Whether you’ve been dancing for 5-years or 5-minutes, remember those diamonds, and be confident that the time you invest in mastering turnout will mean a better experience during your dance class.

From adult recreational classes to our approach in professional division, Alberta Ballet School would love to help you improve every aspect of your ballet experience. Contact us for more information on registration in any of our programs.