Hitching of the hip is a common problem seen in dancers as they prepare to take their leg into a développé in second. This often results in inappropriate recruitment of the hip flexor at the front of the hip which further impairs the extension of the working leg. To demonstrate proper alignment, ex-Joffrey and San Francisco Ballet dancer Finis Jhung suggests using a grand plie to help dancers visualise and feel proper placement of the pelvis.
Have your dancers perform a grand plie in 1st position in front of the mirror and notice the placement and feeling of their pelvis in space; square with knees level with the hips and not tilted. Once they understand the correct alignment in this position they can then try to apply the same feeling to their retiré. This is a great example of breaking down a movement to understand a specific element, then putting everything back together again. Try coupling this with some of our functional illiopsoas exercises to help dancers recruit the correct muscle group required to lift the legs.
A common bad habit (noted by master teacher Finis Jhung) occurs when students hike the working hip during passé and développé. In an effort to pull up in their supporting leg or to lift the working leg higher, they neglect their hip alignment, resulting in a tilted pelvis. “It’s a bit hard to pirouette like this,” says Jhung. “It’s really easy to fall over, though!”