Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Dancer’s Hip

By William G. Hamilton, MD

How’s your turnout? Wish you had more? Most dancers do, so let’s take a look at the dancer’s hip.

First the anatomy

As you probably know, the hip is a ball and socket joint. The ball is the uppermost part of the thighbone, or femur, and the socket is the acetabulum (Latin for vinegar dish). This arrangement allows motion in all planes:

Rotation: Internal, or toeing in, vs. external, or toeing out. Adduction: toward the midline, e.g., when crossing your legs in fifth position. Abduction: away from the midline, e.g., second position. Forward motion: flexion, as in tendu or battement to the front. When you sit, the hip is flexed. Backward motion is extension.

Can you improve your turnout?

Not much. The extent of this motion is limited by the alignment and architecture of the ball and socket joint itself. Still, the range of motion varies considerably from one person to another and from one hip to the other in the same individual.

The normal hip has roughly an equal amount of internal and external rotation. If you are born “pigeon-toed” you will have more turn-in than turnout. The opposite type of hip, “duck-footed,” is naturally turned out and perfect for ballet. How much your natural turnout can be improved by early training is controversial. The orthopedic literature suggests that turnout, or anteversion in medical parlance, is mostly determined by age 12. It can be slightly improved by early training and stretching, but not dramatically. The rotation you have at age 12–13 is pretty much what you are stuck with.

Turning out below the hip

The second component of turnout is the knee, or actually the tibia, or shinbone below the knee, which is normally rotated outward 10–15 degrees. This rotation has a fancy name. It is called external tibial torsion, and this also varies. Some dancers with good turnout in the hip can lose some of it below the knee, while others with mediocre rotation in the hip can gain it below.

The third component is the foot and ankle. But, as all well-trained dancers know, you should not get your turnout by twisting either your knee or your foot out and rolling in—the cardinal sin of ballet.

It is OK to “nudge” your hip to get all of the turnout that is present, but forcing it too hard can injure it. There is a cartilaginous rim that runs around the edge of the socket called the labrum (lip). When the rotation is pushed too far this lip can actually be torn loose from its attachment. The torn labrum can cause a lot of trouble and sometimes requires arthroscopic surgery to fix it. (More on this later.)

Special circumstances

Hypermobile dancers, whose joints are too loose, are especially prone to labral tears and damage to the joint. By forcing their turnout, they can actually slip the hip partly out of joint. That’s called subluxation. Hypermobility comes in various degrees from mild to severe— as in the Indian Rubber Man in the circus who can tie himself into knots, or contortionists. There is no cure for this, but hypermobile dancers need to become extra strong with physical therapy exercises to control their looseness. They also need to be very careful with their technique.

Acetabular dysplasia. Some dancers are born with a hip socket that is too shallow. They usually have a very good range of motion— sometimes too good. This type of hip is very prone to labral tears and early arthritis and should not be turned out at all. This condition can be picked up on a MRI study. Acetabular dysplasia is not common, but when it is present it is a relative contraindication to ballet or turning out because this can easily rotate the hip partly out of a socket that is already too shallow. These dancers should dance parallel to protect their hips.

Labral tears are characterized by sudden pains in the groin that often occur with certain motions like moving sideways, or develop√© √† la second. There is a specific test for labial tears during the physical exam: With the patient lying down on her back (supine), the affected hip is flexed first straight up toward the chest with the knee bent. This is usually not painful. But when the knee is brought up in the same motion but more toward the midline (adducted) it will cause pain in the hip if a labral tear is present. That’s “the flexion-adduction sign.” It is not 100 percent accurate, but is highly suggestive and is usually an indication for getting a special MRI. Some labial tears are not very painful, so a physician will just keep an eye on it over time. If it gets worse, the dancer may need arthroscopic surgery to fix the problem.

Dancers who turn out may be prone to arthritis of the hip later in life, but this is not known for sure because the condition often occurs even in non-dancers. Symptomatic arthritis is the usual indication for a hip replacement.

Remember that with turnout, like many things in dance, it is important to know your limitations and to work within them. “Forcing the envelope” can lead to injuries. Merde!

William G. Hamilton, MD is an orthopedic surgeon in private practice in New York City. He is the orthopedic consultant for the New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, the School of American Ballet, and the JKO School of Ballet at ABT. He specializes in foot and ankle injuries in dancers and athletes. He is past president of the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Hip-Hop History

Hip-hop dance refers to dance styles primarily danced to hip-hop music or that have evolved as part of hip-hop culture. This includes a wide range of styles notably breaking, locking, and popping which were developed in the 1970s by Black and Latino Americans. What separates hip-hop dance from other forms of dance is that it is often freestyle (improvisational) in nature and hip-hop dancers frequently engage in battles—formal or informal freestyle dance competitions. Informal freestyle sessions and battles are usually performed in a cipher, "a circular dance space that forms naturally once the dancing begins."[1] These three elements—freestyling, battles, and ciphers—are key components of hip-hop dance.
More than 30 years old, hip-hop dance became widely known after the first professional breaking, locking, and popping crews formed in the 1970s. The most influential groups are the Rock Steady Crew, The Lockers, and the Electric Boogaloos who are responsible for the spread of breaking, locking, and popping respectively. Parallel with the evolution of hip-hop music, hip-hop dancing evolved from breaking and the funk styles into different forms: moves such as the "running man" and the "cabbage patch" hit the mainstream and became fad dances. The dance industry in particular responded with a studio based version of hip-hop—sometimes called new style— and jazz funk. These styles were developed by technically trained dancers who wanted to create choreography for hip-hop music from the hip-hop dances they saw being performed on the street. Because of this development, hip-hop dance is now practiced at both studios and outside spaces.
Internationally, hip-hop dance has had a particularly strong influence in France and South Korea. France is the birthplace of Tecktonik, a style of house dance from Paris that borrows heavily from popping and breaking. France is also the home of Juste Debout, an international hip-hop dance competition. South Korea is home to the international breaking competition R16 which is sponsored by the government and broadcast every year live on Korean television. The country consistently produces such skillful b-boys that the South Korean government has designated the Gamblerz and Rivers b-boy crews official ambassadors of Korean culture.[2]
To some, hip-hop dance may only be a form of entertainment or a hobby. To others it has become a lifestyle: a way to be active in physical fitness or competitive dance and a way to make a living by dancing professionally.

source: wikipedia

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A little more about Modern Dance.

Article found on

Modern Dance is an evolution from Classical Ballet. It breaks the rules of Classical Ballet and creates new ones of its own. It therefore has fewer restrictions, and can be seen as a fusion of many dances.

So, in one single Modern Contemporary Dance class, you may get to try out lots of different dances. You could find yourself dancing a routine that has elements of African dance, Tango, Salsa, Jazz, Ballet and so on. You name it, you’ll probably find it in a Modern Dance class.
In its sophistication it has developed many styles and techniques. The beauty of it is that it allows a freer dance, which can be initiated by music or by an internal theme or inspiration.

Often in a contemporary dance class, the teacher will work on self awareness. This will enable you to harmonize your mind and body, regardless of your age or dancing ability. It is suitable for anybody and everybody.

There are countless benefits...
It allows you to express yourself, to be aware of and use your body's movement capabilities.
It will improve flexibility and fitness levels, it will tone the body, improve co-ordination, and sharpen your musicality skills.
It can be intensely physical, enhancing strength and stamina. Or it can be lyrical and calm, inspiring suppleness and fluidity.
It can both relax and exhilarate you.
What more could you want?