The Importance of Turnout in Ballet



Perfect turnout is when a person, standing with equal weight on both feet, points their toes away from their body with their heals together in a 180 degree angle.  However, very few people have natural perfect turnout.  A lot of dancers have to work up to having a perfect turnout by using strengthening exersizes as well as stretching daily. It is important to turnout using the right muscles and not by rotating from your feet and knees.  The degree of maximum turnout is depended on the shape of the hip socket and the femur head that hooks into the socket.  The turnout muscles extend from the hip to the feet; the main turn out muscles are around the hips and inner thighs.  The flexibility of the iliofemoral ligament also helps create a greater turnout.  Turnout, using the correct techniques, includes:

  • Using the external rotation of the hips and not using the knees or feet as the basis for the turnout.
  • Using the piriformis muscle, located deep within the gluteus maximus, and not clenching the buttock.
  • Using the muscles from you rotators in your hips all the way down through your feet, while keeping the majority of your weight on the toes.
  • The baby toes of the feet should be on the floor and the weight of your body should be equally shared between all 5 toes.
  • Thinking about pushing your inner thighs forward and your toes and knees away from your body.

Once you reach the age of 12, you cannot change the amount of your skeletal turnout.  However, you can still build your muscles up in order to make your turnout an easier operation.  Ways to build the strength and control of your turnout include:
  • Stretching the iliofemoral ligament (found in the hip)
  • Strengthening the muscles around your hips, your abdomen, and your lower back
  • Doing stretches, like laying on your stomach and having your legs in a center split (this is the maximum turnout potential).  Holding this and doing other stretches for at least 30 min to an hour a day will help the increase of one's turnout capability.

Benefits of using turnout include:
  • Prettier lines
  • More stability and balance
  • Greater range of movement
  • More flexibility


  • File
    Description: Stretching in a center split stretches the hip joints and can allow for looser hip joints, and therefore better turnout.

  • File
    Description: This picture shows different muscles and tendons of the hip that are used in having good turnout with good technique.

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