Honestly, for years I've viewed the 'beyond' split position and I don't find it that aesthetic.
In Classical Ballet the straight 180 degree splits line in a grand jete or penche is a beautiful line.
Just my opinion, but in Swan Lake or Giselle, and many other classics, the 180 isn't needed - but can look fantastic.
Anything beyond that starts to look like a circus.
Having sat in on many auditions in a professional ballet school, I've seen the heart break on the face of very expressive young dancers who don't make the grade when the assistants get up and stretch them for the onlooking panel.
But I get it - if they can't do a split or a deep back bend - why lead a hopeful on?
On the other hand, if you have a child who is almost like a contortionist - how easy will it be for them to conquer classical ballet technique? Without injury?
I've worked with chiropractors for many years, including a couple of kinesiologists.
Many patients have come in with injuries due to lax ligaments. They are just born that way. And they have supplements recommended for them - specifically to tighten up lax ligaments.
In dance, "tighten up" is a bad phrase. But let's keep things in perspective.
If you can do the splits, I say - hooray. Now you can concentrate on other technical weaknesses you may have (everybody has some) and become better than good.
When I see the you tube videos of young dancers demonstrating their "waaaaay" over-split, legs bowing up onto chairs while their pelvis sits on the floor, I feel slightly nauseated.
Am I old-fashioned? I know I was deemed fairly picky as a ballet teacher - and I can't get used to this circus-like flexibility that is spun as a wanted quality for dance.
I understand that a high degree of flexibility is needed to train.
But the dancer who succeeds - is the dancer you can't help watching. And it's not about the splits.
Beyond splits - is more for the circus.
And for the dancer who can do that, it'a about a lot of extra exercises so she/he doesn't get injured.
I am glad Lisa Howell asks the questions: why; and how to prevent injury.
O.K., this was a bit of a rant so I'll lighten up with this funny video of Nina Dobrev and Conan O'Brien doing the splits.
But the 180 is enough, I know right?