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I can put my legs in the position for a ballet wide plie, but when I'm squatting up and down in that position in the context of a fast-paced Zumba-like dance class, I feel like my hips are going to fall out of their sockets. What's a safe way to develop a range of motion for this move, with flexibility and muscle control? I'm not sure if I need a new stretch I don't know, strengthening exercises, or some kind of ballet dance drill.

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I asked about this on Reddit. Ballet dancers call your ability to rotate your hips like this "turnout". Suggestions for improving your turnout include:

  • The frog stretch (there are many variations of this by the same name, pick your poison)
  • Lying clam shells with a band to strengthen your external hip rotators
  • This site describes an exercise from the American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum:

    1. Kneel and place a pillow under your left knee. If needed, hold a barre or chair to maintain balance.

    2. With both legs turned in, lunge forward on your right leg until your right knee forms a 90-degree angle. Rest your hands on your right knee. Keep your hips level and tuck your tailbone under.

    3. Continue to push forward into the right leg until you feel a gentle stretch in the outer front part of your left hip, and/or in your left thigh. Be sure to keep your back upright and your hips square.
    4. Hold this position, keeping your buttocks tight, for 15 seconds. Repeat three to four times.
    5. Repeat the stretch on the right knee.

I also received this recommendation:

Only go down as far as you can keep your tailbone going straight down (as opposed to swaying). You won't go down as far initially, but you'll be working the correct muscles, which when developed will let you go further.

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