Stupid question, but it has to be asked…

Fifth position. Front leg — is the knee slightly relaxed in front of the back knee?

Obviously you want to hold your back knee as straight as you can, and you can do that. There is nothing getting in the way of you straightening that knee. But what about the front knee? Is it supposed to be completely straight? Or like as straight as you can get it, without breaking contact with your feet?

And if the latter is true, then aren’t you really doing all the pulling up etc. and keeping your back leg completely straight but sort of hugging your front knee to your back knee?

I find that often when I am looking at people standing in fifth position, their front knee looks slightly bent. Now, there are those people who are obviously bending both legs to be able to twist their feet into a closed fifth, and I’m NOT talking about them. I’m also not talking about those painful-to-look-at photos of people rolling their ankles in to stand in faux fifth — these ones often seem to go hand in hand with the both-knees-bent photos. No, I’m taking about beautiful closed fifths where the back leg is straight as can be but the front knee looks a smidge curved around the front knee. Just a smidge. 

SO confused about this! Maybe it is just a body shape thing? Maybe those extra bendy people can keep their legs completely straight and twist their ankles to also be able to keep complete closed contact at their feet as well?

And which is more desirable? Closed feet with slight curve in the front knee? Or completely straight legs but an open fifth at the feet?

I would assume whatever is healthier for the body is correct. So whichever is going to cause less harm and injury — but which is that? Is it harmful to have a slight curve in the front knee, if everything else is in correct alignment? Does it actually allow less twisting of that front knee, which might even be healthier?

Anyone feel like educating this confused wannabe? :/ 


7 thoughts on “Stupid question, but it has to be asked…”

  1. Hi there Bush Ballerina! There are no stupid questions in ballet, and thanks for asking! According to our Ballet Master Tristan Message, the desirable position is perfectly pulled-up, straight legs in fifth position. However, to achieve this form, you will have to be built a particular way – in your hip sockets particularly. This variation you’re seeing in a nicely executed fifth position, where the front leg is just slightly bent, is due to physical variations between dancers. We can all work to improve our range of motion, but our bodies will have their own parameters. Happy dancing!


    1. Oh wow, thank you! That is such a great explanation! So there is the desired position and the plan b position. Those with that built in ability will be able to achieve the desired position, but many (or maybe most?) will achieve a great plan b position. Love that!


  2. That’s it! And always remembering that some of the greatest dancers the world has ever seen had, ahem, less than perfect technique – and that each dancer has their own areas of perfect and less than perfect!


    1. Oh yeah, absolutely!

      I am no-where near educated enough yet on “the greatest dancers the world has ever seen”, I have a lot to learn there (and it is my pleasure to keep learning), but I do agree that there is more to dancing than perfect technique. 🙂

      Thanks again!


  3. I think it’s about getting as far as possible without forcing your turnout. Also, some people just have those legs that “fit”. I, for example, don’t. So no matter how good my fifth can get, or my turnout, my legs will never really “fit”. It’s about pulling up and turning out but not foricing your turnout at the same time.


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