Dear Katie: Is It Too Late to Improve My Turnout?

November 30, 2017

In our “Dear Katie” series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email
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Dear Katie,

I have terrible turnout. I’ve heard that younger students can improve their rotation by stretching, but I’m 16 now. Is it too late for me? What can I realistically do to get better turnout?


Dear Haley,

It’s true that you might not be able to improve your natural rotation at this point. But “good” turnout isn’t just about having super-limber hips. It’s also about having the strength to hold the rotation you do have. You can be the most flexible dancer in the world, but if you don’t have the upper leg strength to hold that turnout, it won’t do you any good!

Work on strengthening your external hip rotator muscles, which are critical to turnout. I’d highly recommend Pilates classes, because several Pilates exercises strengthen that muscle group. But here’s an exercise you can do at home:

Lie on your side with your legs together, knees bent at a 90-degree angle.

Lift your feet and shins a few inches off the floor, keeping your legs together.

Open and close your top leg while keeping your heels glued together, like a clamshell. Do 20–30 open-and-close reps on each side.

Trust me—you’ll feel it! And it’ll really help you hold every bit of natural rotation in your legs.

For more of Katie’s helpful tips and advice, click here.