St. Patrick’s Day: Perfecting the “Tur...

St. Patrick’s Day: Perfecting the “Turnout” in Irish Dance

It’s working!! In a very short amount of time using Balanced Body Precision Rotator Discs my students are uttering sentences like “Wow, I didn’t even know that muscle existed!” As an Irish Dance teacher, adjudicator and former Riverdance cast member my career is built on identifying and helping others to build their skills and technique.

In Irish Dance specifically, part of that skill set is being able to isolate and maintain turnout from the top of the leg or hip. This came easily to me as a young dancer from what I remember. I just stand that way without thinking about it, and in fact I don’t even recall how my teachers taught me to turn out my feet besides physically showing me and saying “TURN OUT YOUR FEET!”

For ten years I have been running the McKeever School of Irish Dance in Sacramento, CA. We have over 150 students of all ages and abilities, but a decent size of the student population competes at major championships around the country and sometimes the World. They train really hard, and have so much talent but often we come back from a competition and get a comment from a judge “turnout your feet” or “turnout more”. The hard part for a dancer is when they know this is true and they literally don’t know how to fix it!

The interesting thing about coaching dancers to have this elusive and all important skill we call turnout is that it can be a different combination of awareness, flexibility and strength. The fact that these Precision Rotator Discs come in different resistance levels and sizes is really a game changer. I have been using the light resistance disks on my younger dancers and helping them visually understand where this control should come from and how it feels.

For my champions we have been using the higher resistance discs and creating more challenging drills. One of my favorites so far is placing the supporting back leg on a disc in a turned in direction, then having the dancer turn out the back leg and release the support of the front leg, lifting it slightly while they have to hold their back leg in that turned out position! Challenging to say the least.

These Precision Rotator Discs are so well made and durable which gives me peace of mind as a dance studio owner that investing in any extracurricular equipment like rotator disks is worth it.

I am excited to discover how these tools can be used for other modes of strength. I haven’t even accessed Balanced Body’s free workouts for the upper body and core that come with this accessory! Needless to say this might be a new era for my dancers. Once they unlock the ability to turnout, strengthen it and have the awareness to control it while executing such detailed and fast paced movement their results in competition are going to greatly improve. More importantly they will be achieving turnout the correct way, not forcing from a knee or ankle and getting irreversible injuries down the road.


Nicole McKeever began Irish dancing at the age of 12 with the DeNogla School in New Jersey and quickly moved up from beginner to Open Champion, achieving top three standings at the Regional Oireachtas, ranking top 5 out of American competitors at the North American Championships, and medalling at All Ireland and World Championships for which she qualified for six times. She was ranked 3rd in the Mid-Atlantic, 4th in the Munster Region of Ireland, 5th in the USA and 20th in the World. In 2006 after earning a BFA in the Visual Arts from Rutgers University in New Jersey, Nicole moved to Ireland to earn a Masters Degree in Irish Dance Performance from the University of Limerick. There she worked with famous choreographers including Colin Dunne and Breandan De Gallai. While earning her M.A. in Irish Traditional Dance Performance, she continued to compete internationally and study with the Michael Ryan School in Tipperary, Ireland. She competed under Michael Ryan's guidance for two years, qualifying for the Worlds twice, Medalling at the All–Irelands and ranking 4th at the Munster Championships. Nicole was asked to tutor the M.A. and B.A. students in Irish Dance at the University of Limerick. In 2007 she began an exciting professional career with the respected show Ragus, touring multiple times across Europe and Asia. In 2008 she bypassed the audition process and was scouted to join Riverdance the Show. For five years she toured with the company full time until her move to California in 2013. Nicole has danced across four continents, 26 countries, 49 states and some of her tour highlights include performing at the Kremlin Palace in Moscow, Russia; the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles, California; the Hammersmith in London, England's West End and dancing for the Princess of Hawaii in Honolulu, Hawaii. She was also the solo dancer chosen to be featured on Riverdance's posters for Summer and Fall of 2012, a signed copy is held in the National Dance Archives of Ireland. She is also listed as one of only 300 female cast members in the “Historic Cast List of Riverdance”. In 2012 she earned her T.C.R.G and then after her final tour in Spring of 2013. Nicole founded the McKeever School of Irish Dance in Sacramento, now located at the prestigious E. Claire Raley Studios for the Performing Arts. The McKeever School can boast that it’s stylistic heritage stems from both the MId-Atlantic Region in the USA and Munster Region in Ireland. Nicole was taught by Jennifer Nagle McGovern and Alison Nagle Keane, who were students of Peter J. Smith one of the founding teachers of Irish Dance in North America and a student of the famed Cyril McNiff. Nicole also studied under the legendary teacher Michael Ryan from Tipperary, Ireland whose teachers were Matty Johnson and Anne Whelan. Nicole McKeever, Director of the McKeever School of Irish Dance, is a registered teacher and adjudicator or TCRG and ADCRG with CLRG (An Coimissiun Rince Le Rinci Gaelacha), IDTANA (Irish Dance Teachers Association of North America) and the Western US Region. CLRG is the most elite international governing body of Irish Dance.


Please make a choice regarding cookies on this site

We use cookies to optimise site functionality and give you the best possible experience.

This site uses cookies

We use cookies to optimize site functionality and give you the best possible experience. For more information see our privacy policy.