Certain ideas have floated around dance studios for so long that we don’t even question them. But, no, it’s not true that you need 180 degrees of turnout to be a professional dancer! Here are five such common pronouncements. Can we all agree it’s time to put them to rest?
#1 Lift your leg from underneath.
Fact: The only way the leg can lift to the front or side is by engaging the main hip flexors: the quadriceps and iliopsoas muscles. They perform a shortening contraction that lifts the leg. The hamstrings on the back of the leg lengthen to allow for that movement.
How we got it wrong: Dancers often overuse their quadriceps because they have weakness in the deeper iliopsoas muscle. The iliopsoas muscle needs to be strong to hold the leg above 90 degrees. It’s possible this myth started because dancers who have strong iliopsoas muscles seemingly don’t grip the quadriceps as much as dancers with weaker iliopsoas muscles.
Try this instead: Imagery that focuses on lengthening the leg as it lifts will help create the illusion of lightness that dancers want, without sending an anatomically impossible suggestion to the body.