If I had a nickel every time I heard a teacher say “get up on your leg”…
We say this when we see students “sinking” into their supporting leg. Releasing the gluteal muscles and abductors causes the hip to fall away from the midline.
The big problem with this correction is that students often overcompensate by raising their working hip. Then you tell them to drop their hip and they overcompensate by sinking into their supporting hip. Then you tell them to get up on their leg…. it’s a vicious cycle.
This is a problem that takes awhile to correct, as it is likely the result of weak muscles in the ankle and hip (specifically gluteus medius and minimus; tensor fascilae latae; and posterior tibialis, flexor digitorum longus, and flexor hallucis longus).
Weak hip abductors have also been implicated in increased knee abduction in runners during the stance phase (the supporting leg). The femur is not fully supported at the knee joint, causing abduction of the knee and the potential for the femur to rub against the patella. Patellofemoral stress syndrome has been correllated with weak hip abductors.
While some corrections are given due to negligence or laziness on the part of the dancer, if a student is continually being asked to get on their leg it may be that they need to strengthen the abductors. Though it is important to strengthen the abductors, they are not especially targeted by ballet technique. Working with the feet in a parallel position can strengthen these muscles-especially excercises that extend the leg to the side in parallel. Employing the “Jane Fonda Workout Series”, as I like to call it, is effective for dancers who can’t “get up on their leg”. Although it is a trademark of dancers to walk through their daily lives in turnout, simply making it a point to walk in parallel can help keep these muscles active. For dancers interested in Pilates, the hip abductor series is a great tool for this problem.
On Dance Advantage: What You Mean, What You Say: Get Up On Your Leg
On The Dance Training Project (by Monika Volkmar): Who Else Wants to Get on Their Leg? Part 1 | Who Else Wants to Get on Their Leg? Part 2