Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Honors Thesis



First Advisor

Michelle Jarvis


Genu recurvatum is a medical condition in which the knee curves baac kwar d past the normal range of extension predominantly in the sagittal plane. Hyperextension can be attributed to extra laxity in the body, therefore the surrounding ligaments of the knee allow for the femur and tibia to be placed past a sagittal alignment of 180°, which is the possible knee extension of normal knee alignment. Genu recurvatum, medically viewed as a deformity, is desirable and considered a positive attribute in the dance world, especially classical ballet. Hyperextension also makes the line of the leg appear longer and straighter in ballet positions. Classical ballet requires beauty in form and values length; therefore hyperextension enhances ballet's visual appeal. As aesthetically pleasing and desirable genu recurvatum is in the ballet world, it remains a structural deformity, one that has many repercussions. Genu recurvatum has multiple side effects that impact dance technique, body alignment, muscular development and susception to injury. As a dancer and dance educator with genu recurvatum, it is imperative for me to devise a comprehensive explanation of the condition regarding its effects on dance training and formulate resolutions that empower the educator to address genu recurvatum early in dance education. Early detection and awareness of genu recurvatum in dance students will result in more stable, better aligned and less injury prone dancers.

So much of what makes a dancer with hyperextension a special situation to instruct is that if the instructor does not possess this structural difference, it is difficult to understand how it functions and feels. How does one effectively teach something with which they have no experience?