"Turn Out" for what? [a ballet blog]

Shoes by Sansha
I get asked ballet advice a lot from other plus sized women who are interested in the artform.  Truth is... I don't have a lot of advice that will help you because I'm not even "doing it right".  I can only tell you to seek out an instructor who will teach you without judgement... and follow your joy!

Whenever I post photos of me in pointe shoes… some random ballet “expert” has to chime in about my turn out.  And, how I’m going to “injure myself”. 
I understand the general need to warn people about the dangers of improperly using their bodies.  The reality is… I will *never* be a prima ballerina.  And, there are some things that my body just won’t ever be able to do.  Ever. 

I was born with congenital hip dysplasia.  I couldn’t crawl.  I couldn’t walk.  My hips were dislocated for the majority of my infancy.  I dragged myself and rolled across the ground.   My family didn’t really believe in going to the doctor for stuff.  They called me fat and lazy and left it at that (I have been fat since birth).  When my development got to a point that I wasn’t standing or walking… they finally took me to a doctor.  I got braces/a harness put on my legs.  Once my joints set and I was able to stand… instead of just walking I RAN!  I ran because I COULD run!  It wasn’t laziness.  It was a disability.

I have problems with my legs.  I always will.  They hardened and developed wrong.  The joints are different sizes and my legs are different lengths.  My hips will still dislocate, if I am not careful.  There are stretches that I cannot do.  The splits are impossible.  And, I have nerve pain down my legs often.  (This isn’t a pity party post.  This is just the reality of what I have to work with and live with). 

I started my love affair with dancing when I was about 3 or 4 years old. 

Me at age 8 after a recital.  (note my arched back and hip shape… that is due to my hip development. I was too young to “develop” curves like that at that age)

Dance made me HAPPY!  I couldn’t do all of the things that the other girls could do.  But, I had a lot of passion for it.  I danced *all the time*.  It wasn’t even exercise to me.  It was LIFE! 

And, as I got older… my teachers told me that I would never be able to do pointe work because of my butt and hips.  I got shot down ENTIRELY.  Around age 12 I stopped dancing all together because my Mom said that other Moms were laughing at me in the audience during the recital.  I was an embarrassment to her. 

Dancing hurts.  Well.  Everything hurts!  But, that’s life living with chronic pain.  All exercise hurts.  Walking hurts.  Standing hurts.  It’s been that way for as long as I can remember.

This is the *one* body that I have. 
It may be different.. but, I love it!

In my twenties I sought out a ballet instructor who would teach me with my limited range of motion.  She taught me that you can ENJOY ballet without needing to think of it as a career choice.  If you have passion for something… you can do it, if you want to.  That’s what being an adult means. 

And, with her guidance and help I was able to modify movements and I was able to feel the joy of dancing again. 

Frankly… ballet has historically been a snobby exclusive artform.  But, it CAN be accessible.  It doesn’t have to be elitist or cruel.  It can be fun! 

I don’t like it when random strangers online talk about my “turn out” as though I have no idea what that is (or what I’m doing).  That IS my turn out.  That’s my modified way of being able to do what I love to do.  I do as much as I can with what I have to work with.  

It isn’t perfect.  I’m not perfect, either!  It’s the best that I can do with what I have to work with.  It makes me happy.  And, that’s enough for me. 

I’m allowed to enjoy it.  I’m aware of the risks. 
The rewards, to me, are just far more awesome…

I work on this all the time.  Because I want to.  Because I love it. 
I will never be as good as the people judging me.  That’s okay with me.
I don’t need to be the best to find joy in what I do.


  1. Thank you so much for explaining. I saw your pictures elsewhere and in the year I tried to start ballet they drilled me about turn out and needing it for dancing en pointe and so on. So in my mind it looked weird and wrong how you stood in the pictures. Even though I thought that it didn't came to my mind to ever judge you, it was just my thought.

    But now I know the story, understand and respect you even more for doing ballet and dancing.
    Much Love,

    1. "Weird and Wrong" pretty much sums up everything I do in life.
      (and that is judgment... but, it was kind of you to keep it to yourself, until now).

      If people are looking for the correct way to do things... I'm probably not the best role model for them in general. There are so many other people who do things "beautifully and correctly" that they could seek out instead.

      Life is short. I'd like to spend mine being happy and doing things that I love.
      If I look totally ridiculous and dumb in the process... that's on me, right?



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