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How to improve your 'en-dehors?

"Nothing is so necessary as the circumference of the thighs outside to dance well, and nothing is so natural to man as the opposite position". In 1760, Jean Georges Noverre defined the 'en-dehors' in his "Lettres sur la danse". The 'en-dehors' is the emblematic figure of dance and classical in particular. It builds its aesthetics. At the end of the 17th century, the idea of opening was 45 degrees. Then at the time of Jean Georges Noverre, the steps are executed on a 90° outside. The requirement is such that the dancers tend to use all the means and subterfuges to satisfy this golden rule.

The 'en-dehors' technique is a permanent quest of the dancer, and requires an active state of the body. It is born of his determination. It's a way of taking the movement. However, like all learning, time and practice are keys to the development and progress of physical abilities. Your feelings and the gaze of your teacher are the pledges of confidence in the proper functioning of the body.

The outside is unequal in everyone. Some have disconcerting ease and others think they have a natural inside! I will try by examples of exercises to open your feeling of the outside and to soften its game.

"My 'en-dehors' comes from where?"

All the projectors are focused on one area of the body: the union of the femur in the acetabulum, ie the hollow of the hip. Anatomically, the 'en-dehors' corresponds to an external rotation of the foot at 90° and the hip at 70°.

This difference between the degree of openness tends to make an erroneous reading of the placement of the body in the notion of 'en-dehors'. We thus begin the court by concentrating on the closing of our fifth then we work on the beats to the detriment of the supporting leg. Very often, the course ends with a somewhat unpleasant lower back pain... Welcome to the world of subterfuge from the 'en-dehors'! These compensations create long-term lesions such as tendonitis in the Achilles tendon, foot or knee sprains. Bad inclinations are also observed at the level of the pelvis with lumbar pain, and at the level of the ankles with dangerous support on the inside of the foot.

"Theory is all well and good, but what do I feel exactly?"

The femur should move in different directions without causing the pelvis to tilt. The greater the dissociation between the femur and the pelvis, the more efficient the hip movements. It is necessary to dissociate the pelvic belt and the lower limbs.

The 'demi-plie'

Lie on your stomach in a slight demi-plie, forehead resting on your hands. The heels are glued. As you exhale, pull your stomach in, tighten your abs, and press your heels together. Hold the position for about 5 seconds. Release on the inhale and repeat a dozen times. Above all, avoid arching.

The contraction felt is that of the six external rotators and the lower fibers of the gluteus maximus: the kings of the outside!

The 'grand plie'

Lying on the floor on your back, place your feet flat against a wall. Place your feet in second. Be sure to keep your lower back as close to the ground as possible throughout the movement by tightening your abs. Take 4 beats to raise your legs in a half-fold. Then, lower your legs for 4 beats until your feet are back on the wall. Repeat the exercise. Do the same work with the 'grand plie'. Avoid taking strength with the hip flexors, muscles located at the very top of the legs connecting the hips to the thighs. Release the tension there and use your inner thighs.

The 'retiré'

Lying on your side, body aligned, lower arm lying on the ground in line with the body, head resting on the biceps. The upper arm is bent, the hand on the ground at chest level. Place the top leg in withdrawal, knee up and foot flat outside in contact with the bottom leg. The latter must remain outside.

The trunk remains on the side with sheathing of the abdominals. The contraction of the obliques will create a very slight space between the waist and the floor.

On the exhale, open the hip so as to open as much as possible. Hold the position for 5 seconds and come back slowly. Repeat the movement a dozen times. Remember to keep the bottom leg externally rotated and the pelvis in a neutral position.

To optimize the work, you can do the same thing standing, avoiding any twisting of the knee of the supporting leg. The lower back remains elongated. Finally, the help of a partner who will place his hand in resistance behind the knee placed in withdrawal will be a good omen.

"How about we relax!"

'En-dehors'is also to soften and lengthen the muscles of the thighs, pelvis and lower back. Remember that a stretch is a progression that takes place over time. The sensation should be more intense without being painful. The tension should gradually decrease without increasing. Proper breathing contributes to successful stretching. If the sensation becomes painful, stop exercising.

The facial 'ecart'

Sit on the floor with your legs apart. The position must make it possible to maintain the toes and the stretched knees. Lean forward starting the movement from the lower back and extending as far as possible. Breathe and hold the pose for about 30 seconds. To deepen this stretch, place your hands on your feet. The goal is to put your bust on the ground. The adductors stretch.

Stretch on the back

Lie down on the ground, on your back. Place the right foot on the left knee, keeping the right knee out. Raise your left leg 90° in the air. In this position, straighten the left leg. Reach forward with your right hand and place it behind your left knee, behind your calf, or cup the inside of your foot. On the exhale, pull the leg towards your chest. Hold the position for a few seconds. Repeat and switch legs. You feel the stretch in your hamstrings, glutes. The lower back lengthens.


Other stretches you may be familiar with are the butterfly and the frog. For the first, remain seated with your knees bent and your heels turned towards you. Push your knees towards the ground, you can help yourself with your elbows or your hands. The back remains straight. Lean against a wall if necessary. Hold the position, then release.

The frog is the typical position of a dancer in streching waiting to start her class. Kneel down with your hands on the floor in front of you. Lean on your hands to spread your knees in a demi or grand plie. The goal is to stick your hips against the ground. At first, keep the support on your hands or your elbows with the abdominal belt engaged. Your back should not arch. Breathe and hold the position for 30 seconds.


As in a work of classical music, the fundamental key is 'en-dehors'. This dynamic generates a tension between the body, the space and the ground. Even if some dancers will never achieve an irreproachable outside, the movement must remain and start from the hip. The 'en-dehors' is a trajectory of the movement which is the very goal of the effort of the dancer. This effort is constant and must be nurtured. Modify the exercises as you progress and remember to make your 'en-dedans' more flexible too!

Personal advice from Alvaro Rodriguez Piñera, soloist of the Ballet de l'Opéra de Bordeaux

"For me the flexibility of the hip, the sheathing of the belly and the constant maintenance of the rotator muscles (so that they are the least contracted possible and therefore more efficient) are essential. I do an hour of stretching in the morning before the classes but especially in the evening, after work and once the body is cold, gentle stretching to relax and eliminate toxins.

I also do a lot of Pilates to work on my deep abdominals which allow me to have good control of the retroversion of the pelvis, so that the heads of the femurs can turn outwards more easily.

For the stretch, the main thing for me is to stretch and relax the pyramidal (one of the several external rotators) before starting to work on the outside. there are several ways to stretch it depending on what each dancer/body likes best". Here is an example of an exercise by Alvaro Rodriguez Piñera.

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