9 Tips for Improving Pirouettes

Musts For Improving Pirouettes:

Pirouette
Image by bichxa via Flickr

ONE:

Engage your core muscles to maintain good alignment during the turn.

TWO:

Every turn is a balance, so practice balancing the position in which you want to turn (retiré, a la seconde, etc.).

THREE:

Spot and keep your eyes off the floor (or that’s where you’ll end up).

FOUR:

Use only enough push to get around – sometimes a dance student’s biggest downfall in pirouettes is pushing so hard that they throw the turn off.

FIVE:

“Connect” your arms to your back – you should feel and imagine width across the back and shoulder blades and the arms should maintain their position (don’t “wind-up” for a turn).

SIX:

Take off from a properly placed and expansive plié for power in the turn.

SEVEN:

Strengthen your ankles supporting the relevé – if you are wobbly, sickled, or pronated, this will ruin your turn.

EIGHT:

Mentally, make a choice to come down from the turn, don’t “let” gravity make the choice for you.

NINE:

Visualize yourself doing a beautiful, clean pirouette – it really does help!

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Pirouettes are not an easy movement. Anyone can whip themselves around but it takes practice, strength, and good alignment to perform a quality pirouette. The foundation of a successful pirouette is barre and center fundamentals like plié, relevé, etc. Work on getting a good, clean single pirouette first (with a strong grasp on the elements above), then progress to multiples. Don’t give up! Apply your teacher’s corrections and be patient, allowing your confidence to grow as you see improvement. Soon, you will be able to do multiple pirouettes.

Food For Thought:

Kenneth Laws: Physics and the Art of Dance


Years ago, during a master class with Kenneth Laws on the physics of dance I learned that, when asked how they hold their arms during a pirouette, most dancers will show you a nice, round, proper 1st position. However, after studying footage of excellent turners, he found that they all brought their arms closer to their body than is proper for a 1st position port de bras. When you think of how an ice skater spins, you will probably understand why. It was an example that illustrated that a dancer’s intuitive response to what physics requires is sometimes contradictory to what we are taught or think to be true.


You may also be interested in…

Defining and Dissecting a Piqué Turn


What are some other tips that you can offer or have been given to you?

What do you find most difficult about pirouettes?

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Nichelle (admin)
Nichelle Suzanne began Dance Advantage in 2008, equipped with a passion for movement education and an intuitive sense that a blog could bring dancers together. Nichelle holds a BA in dance and is an instructor with more than 17 years experience. She covers dance performance in the Houston area as a freelance writer and balances daily life as a mom to two young children. In June 2012, Nichelle presented the whats, hows, and whys of blogging on a panel at the annual conference for Dance/USA, the national service organization for professional dance, to better equip artists and companies for engaging their audience and new readers through online communications and content.
Nichelle (admin)
Nichelle (admin)
Nichelle (admin)
Nichelle (admin)

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Comments

  1. I will try that and see if it works

  2. These were really helpful. I always tend to put too much weight on the front section, so the “core” part helped a lot, and I also find if I focus more on my back leg that helps.

  3. Karin Galligan says:

    I was having a terrible time with pirouettes. I would lean back during the turn every time. I found that visualizing a string attached to the top of my head pulling me up into the sky helped me to automatically engage my core and pull up straight. I can’t do a perfect pirouette now, but at least I don’t spin like a Weeble anymore:-)

  4. still terrible but these tips helped!

  5. I’m so glad these tips are helping people! Just want to point out there are 15 MORE tips that you find useful, here: http://danceadvantage.net/pirouette-fairy-tips/

    Thanks for reading!!

  6. It really is so true about the core! My left pirouettes need serious work and remembering to plie as well as engaging the core helps so much. Thanks!

  7. William Tucker says:

    Great Article! I know one of my biggest problems with pirouettes is landing them. One trick that I use is to imagine myself doing one more pirouette than I actually intend to do. For example, if you wanted to do a single turn you would prep as if you were about to do two but land instead of turning a second time. This really helps me stay lifted so I can land my pirouette instead of falling out of it.

  8. A lot of turning is alignment; i have all of the core strength and strength everywhere to be able to do 5, maybe even 6 turns. However, my first teacher did not teach me properly, and so I have had to essentially relearn everything. Alignment was (is!) a major problem for me. Have someone check whether you are “pulling” out of the floor, if your shoulders are down, if you are balanced forward as opposed to back, if your back is swayed, if your butt is tucked, if your knees straight, and if your relevé is high. I’m sure there is more, but that is all I can think of right now.

    That was not what I was going to post. What I was going to say was that a friend in my studio told me that one of the things that helps her is that she presses her tongue to the roof of her mouth. I don’t know how it works, but it works for me and most of my studio.

  9. Help!!!! i am having serious trouble with en de dans pirrouttes on pointe!!! a few months ago i could do two or three on pointe, but now i can barley do one!! when i look in the mirror when i go on pointe before i spot, i can see that my body is leaning way back. i tried to do a lot of crunches but it isn’t working!! what can i do to make them better?

  10. Anonymous says:

    Hey! Every time I try to do pirouettes I can’t do any more! Please reply and help! <3 But everything else good info!!!

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