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Hi. Sorry to be asking this really basic question, but I've just begun dancing a year or so back, so need to know from the experience of the dancers and teachers here how to deal with my issue. I have knock-knees that result in a hyperextension. The hyperextension was there before I joined dancing, so it's not a habit I've acquired through dancing. I have a feeling my knees pushed themselves back (much, much earlier) because they knocked against each other whenever I stood straight (let's say in morning assembly at school!).

I've just started leaning ballet, where the fifth position was seeming difficult to me. My American teacher told me that for hyperextended dancers, it's okay for the knee to be a little bent in fifth, because it looks straight (it 'felt' straight to her too). The question(s) is, what about first position? Will there necessarily be a gap between my heels because that's my actual straight? If I force my heels to be together, will it not put pressure on my knees that are supporting the weight, instead of the whole leg? Also, when I'm doing front and back tendus through first, if I force my heels to touch, my knees bang against each other.

Look forward to some advice and help (if there are exercises I can do to work around this). Thank you!

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It's important with hyperextended knees to learn how to find the position where the joint is straight (not hyperextended), so this position might feel bent to you.  The gap between your feet is due to the knock knee issue, not the hyperextension.  When you have the alignment of knock knees or genu valgum, the angle of the thigh bone causes the knees to touch when the feet are several inches apart.  There are a few different ways that this can be approached in frst position.  How to handle this will be dependent on:

 - how knock kneed you are (if you place your heels on a tape measure and stand with your legs straight, how much space is there between your two heels when your knees are just able to touch).

- how much natural turn out you have - (what angle do your feet make in 1st postion)

- how developed your muscular strength and control is.

If you don't have a strong amount of knock kneed alignment, you may find out that as you develop strength and control your heels will be able to get a little bit closer to each other in 1st position. 

To begin working on this,  find your first position, make sure your legs are straight but not hyperextended and practice holding this postion for a couple of minutes.  Then, hold onto a counter or wall for support and bring 1 foot to coupe' and try to maintain the correct alignment on your supporting leg for 30 seconds.    Things to watch are displacement of the body weight back towards the heel, changes in turnout on either the supporting or gesture legs and settling the weight back into the hyper extended stance.

I hope that helps a little bit.

I forgot to add this in my response below, here is a blog post I wrote about hyperextension, maybe something in it will be helpful for you.  http://danceart.com/profiles/blogs/knee-hyperextension-training

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