Alignment of Posture and Turnout
Proper alignment of posture and turnout are necessary for balance, muscle development, and prevention of injury in dance.
Posture, that is, carriage of the body, is very important for a dancer. Poor alignment puts stresses and strains on the joints and muscles of the lower back and legs, causing muscles to work beyond their natural capacities, joints to carry more weight, and ligaments to lose their elasticity (Loren 111).
The muscles in the back and abdomen should be held, but not in a tense manner. Dancers are often told to "stand straight," but this does not mean that the dancer should hold his or her spine as if a pole was going through it. There is a slight curvature to the spine, especially where the spine meets the pelvis. In addition, one should not stand as if in military stance; the arms and head should rest comfortably above the rib cage.
When one refers to alignment, one generally thinks of the head, spine and pelvis and usually forgets about the legs and feet. Problems in the legs, such as hyper- extended knees and over turnout of the feet, often lead to injuries in elsewhere in the body.
Hyper- extended (sometimes called swayback) knees puts extra pressure on the backs of the knees, places one's weight on the heels, and causes the pelvis to tip forward (Hammond, 132). Practicing carefully in a parallel position, the dancer can work toward solving this problem by holding the knees stable, but not locked, repositioning weight towards the ball of the foot, and tilting the pelvis to a vertical position.
Over turnout in the feet can also lead a dancer to injury. Ballet nearly always calls for turnout; modern and jazz do so only occasionally. Turning out the legs allows one to lift ones legs higher and creates a beautiful line. Unfortunately, many dancers become overzealous in their turning out, which can lead to a variety of problems. Turnout should come from the ball-and-socket joint at the hip, not from the knees or the ankles. The knees should always point over the toes, the feet should never roll over the arches, and the pelvis should not feel pushed or tilted forward. If you should notice that you are doing any of the above-mentioned things or if you feel pain in any of these areas, simply move your toes to a slightly more turned in position. Do not try to correct the rolled in arches or the tilted pelvis by muscling your way through combinations: you will only put more strain on the other, making injury even more likely.