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Ask Amy: Without Perfect Turnout, Am I Doomed?

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I don't have full 180-degree turnout, so I can't make the same beautiful lines that other dancers can. Even if I strengthen my body enough to utilize my full range of motion, will anyone ever hire me? —Carmen

Let's face it—very few dancers are born with a "perfect" ballet facility. Some struggle with their feet or knees; I dealt with an inflexible back. Part of being an artist means learning to work with the body you have. I personally have known several beautiful dancers with less-than-ideal turnout who went on to have successful careers. Sure, sometimes their limited turnout was noticeable. But for the most part, my eye was drawn to their strengths.


Remember:

Turnout alone doesn't make

a spectacular dancer.

You'll likely always need to work on maximizing your range of motion in class and through exercises. But your dancing is not solely defined by it. You can develop other aspects of your artistry to make you a compelling hire, whether that's musicality, expression or gorgeous port de bras. Identify the unique attributes of your dancing and tease them out.

Outside of class, you may want to work with a Pilates instructor, physical therapist or athletic trainer who can help you develop a supplemental program for better rotation. Working with turnout discs and doing certain yoga poses (such as the warrior series) and Pilates exercises (like clamshells) can strengthen the muscles needed to hold your turnout.

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