Classical Ballet Technique: “En Dehors”

Classical ballet is a technical sport which require discipline and hard work. So, it’s important to focus on technique more than performance! Ballet techniques require many years of learning to understand dangerous movement and to recognize the good position, in particular in pointe and demi-pointe. Despite of this consequent working hours, it’s evident that physical characteristic (like anatomical predisposition) will play an important role. Therefore, let’s talk about techniques! Ballet dance involve important unbalanced strains on the lower part of the body particularly if you have a mediocre technique and then probably injuries… This part contains some advice to prevent these future injuries, and how to improve your techniques. How can we avoid these mistakes? We will talk about 3 important techniques in ballet dance: En dehors, Plié and Pointes.  

How do I realize my “en-dehors” correctly?

The En dehors is the base of the ballet classic. This is the fundamental principle of the 5 positions. For this position, we need a good mobility of the hip, but we don’t have the same physical characteristic, so it’s difficult to have the same En dehors or the perfect en dehors with a perfect alignment (180°) between feet. When this technique is incorrectly achieved, i.e. it’s forced,  it induces compensations. And more compensations mean more risk of injury.  

“En-dehors” compensations

When you have difficulty to turn you hip and maintain it in that position, you are forcing. Your body try to help you realise this objective, no matter what consequences… Here what happens, instead of your hip:
en dehors compensation
“en dehors” compensation
  • Your knee is turned outward
It could lead to many injuries like internal ligament tension, cruciate ligament, meniscal lesions and patello-femoral pain syndrome.
  • Your ankle is turned outward
It could lead to many injuries like ankle medial collateral ligaments tension, Achilles tendinopathy, flexor hallucis longus tendinopathy, posterior tibial tendinopathy
  • Your feet are turned outward much more and roll up inside to maintain your balance. This is the “slicking in”.
It could lead to many injuries like plantar fascia, hallux valgus, metatarsal stress fracture.
  • And your pelvis will tilt forward (to relax your ligaments) and help to have a bit more hip movement. This will p increase the arch in your lower back (hyperlordosis).
It could lead to different injury like low back pain or spondylolisthesis.  

How to avoid compensations?

Realise your physiological en dehors (don’t force it, be satisfy by yours), don’t force without warming! The alignment thigh-knee-ankle must be perfect:  The centre of the knee must be parallel to the feet median line, to avoid that the tibia looks outward . The weight has to be distributed on both legs and all the feet. We need to feel the same pressure on the big toe, little toe and also on the heel.
en dehors
“en dehors”
It’s important to identify compensations that occur in classical ballet to avoid injuries. Don’t hesitate to ask us your questions in the comment below or to have a look at our videos for specific stretching and strengthening. Like for example stretches for Hamstring and Quadriceps! Article written by Mathilde Renard for more information about dance don’t hesitate to consult her blog: Accueil

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