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Deep Knee Flexion

This is an excerpt from Dance Anatomy and Kinesiology 3rd Edition With HKPropel Access by Karen Sue Clippinger.

Many movements in dance require deep knee flexion such as in a grand plié, hinge, spiral turn to the floor, knee slide, spin, or the hip-hop movement seen in figure 6.22. Such movements are associated with large stresses to the meniscus and the posterior cruciate ligament (Escamilla, 2001), as well as with large patellofemoral compression forces. Careful attention to technique and sequential development of strength and coordination is important to reduce injury risk. In terms of technique, keeping active contraction of the hip and knee extensors, versus relaxing the muscles and hanging on the ligaments when in full flexion (see Dance Cues 6.1), as well as maintaining appropriate alignment of the knees relative to the feet (versus letting the knees roll-in), can be helpful.

Figure 6.22 Sample dance movement demanding high levels of knee flexion, quadriceps strength, and neuromuscular coordination. © Yi-Chun Wu. Dancer: Tsiambwom M. Akuchu at DANCE NOW NYC.

In terms of a sequential development in strength and skill with less experienced dancers, a common progression is as follows:

  1. Facing the barre or wall with two-hand support
  2. Side to the barre with decreasing one-hand support
  3. Center floor with range increasing in accordance with ability to maintain balance and body placement
  4. Center floor with choreographic-specific challenges such as adding off-center torso and arm movements, pelvic movements, and changes in facing

Dance Cues 6.1 “Lift Out of Your Knees”

More Excerpts From Dance Anatomy and Kinesiology 3rd Edition With HKPropel Access