Our Top Ten Pirouette Tips

There’s no such thing as too much advice when it comes to turning and pirouettes.

That’s probably why we’ve given you plenty of pirouette tips in the past.

Still looking for more ways to polish your ballet pirouettes? Try these technique tips.

©Will Brenner Photography "Visualize a pirouette that is perfection"

©Will Brenner Photography
“Visualize a pirouette that is perfection”

An Ounce of Preparation

A lot of the prep work for pirouettes happens long before you even try one. Strengthen your core, balance on one leg, build stronger ankles and feet for a quality relevé, and learn to maintain your turnout and center during barre exercises.

Nix Nervousness

Reign in any tendency to panic just before lift-off. Visualize a pirouette that is perfection and have confidence in all that preparation you’ve done.

Hip Down, Legs Stretched

A lifted hip will throw off your pirouette, as will a bent supporting leg. Many dancers think of lifting the thigh to the retiré position. Instead, think of lifting your foot to the knee to keep the hip down. Meanwhile, make sure your standing knee is completely straightened.

Drill, Don’t Twist

As you turn, think of drilling your supporting leg into the floor like a screw. Do not twist through the torso, though. The shoulders should stay stacked directly over the hips.

Make it Look Easy

There are things you can physically do to give your turns an effortless quality. Be sure to lift your foot quickly to the retiré position, and rise immediately to a high relevé but, take some time to fully close the arms into first position. Also exhale as you turn.

Whip it Good

Spotting the head is super important to your turns. The whip of the head and focus of the eyes which precedes the body, helps to prevent dizziness. [Years of training plays a part too.] Plus, your head is dense (that’s not a joke about your intelligence) and can add force to multiple turns.

Have a Ball

The ribs and arms in first position have a strong connection in a good pirouette. Think of wrapping your arms around a large beach ball and giving it a little squeeze as you turn. This tends to activate the back muscles, bring the ribs into proper alignment, and gives energy to the arms.

Relax and Float

Tension is the enemy of turning so don’t confuse strength with tension. You’ll want to gather and energetically launch a store of energy as you begin your pirouette but once you’ve released the turn, the goal is to relax and float around.

Land with a Little Lift

Just before finishing your turn, lift just a little. bit. more. Do not lift your shoulders. This kind of lift is an inward and upward lengthening of the torso that will give a graceful finish to your pirouette.

Pirouettes on Repeat

Pirouettes aren’t perfected by dreaming about them. Mastery and artistry comes with repetition, so practice these turns daily.

Nichelle (owner/editor)
Nichelle Suzanne is a writer specializing in dance and online content. She is also a dance instructor with over 20 years experience teaching in dance studios, community programs, and colleges. She began Dance Advantage in 2008, equipped with a passion for movement education and an intuitive sense that a blog could bring dancers together. As a Houston-based dance writer, Nichelle covers dance performance for Dance Source Houston, Arts+Culture Texas, and other publications. She is a leader in social media within the dance community and has presented on blogging for dance organizations, including Dance/USA. Nichelle provides web consulting and writing services for dancers, dance schools and studios, and those beyond the dance world.
Nichelle (owner/editor)
Nichelle (owner/editor)
Nichelle (owner/editor)
Nichelle (owner/editor)

Latest posts by Nichelle (owner/editor) (see all)


  1. Good tips Nichelle. I’m laying the foundation now by adding yoga to my weekly training routine. Intro to ballet is next! Lots of bar work.

  2. Excellent reminders, Nichelle! Not surprisingly, I am always looking for hints and tips to share.

    I also like to tell students to bring their hips up to their arms, rather than their arms down to their hips (which dancers tend to do when they press up to releve). This engages their backs and keeps them lifted for more suspension during the turn.

  3. Excellent advice and so well stated. I love your subtitles that can serve as a checklist for students. I will definitely share this information with my teaching staff.
    Thank you!

  4. Thanks Tonie and Rachel, for your positive feedback and for sharing!

  5. Jocelyn says:

    Thanks Nichelle – it is so helpful to have all these great tips in one place. I have always been afraid of pirouettes and am terribly inconsistent in how I turn. It is one stubborn
    area that I am having difficulty making progress in. A little progress, yes, but not as much as I’d like. I almost think I need to rebuild my pirouette from scratch but it will be hard to unlearn all the bad habits I have got into. Do you think a one to one with my teacher would help?

Speak Your Mind