Hey dancers and welcome back to another post! Today we are going to be talking about one of the staple turns in dance: pirouettes! They’re usually one of the first turns that you learn, following chaine and pique turns. And even though they may seem simpler than say, fouettes, pirouettes can still be a little challenging to get down, especially when you’re trying to get the hang of doing multiple pirouettes at once. I used to have a bit of trouble with pirouettes when I was first starting out but after I got the hang of it, they became one of my favorite moves to do! So whether you’ve just started working on your pirouettes or if you’re “just not a turner”, here are a few tips to help you improve and turn you into a twistin’, turnin’, pirouetting machine!
“Don’t Be Afraid of the Floor”
Okay, let me explain. “Don’t be afraid of the floor” is my way of saying, don’t be afraid to fall. Yes, you read that right. You can’t be afraid of the possibility falling because the fear of falling will keep you from sticking the turn in and of itself. You have to relax and have the mentality of “I’m going to do this turn and if I fall, I fall and if I don’t, GREAT!” When I was learning how to do a double pirouette cleanly and consistently, I practiced every single day and one day while I was practicing, I fell. And when I say I fell, I mean I FELL. HARD! But I already knew that falling was a possibility and it was a possibility that I refused to be afraid of. So instead of getting down in the dumps about falling, I actually couldn’t get up. Why? Because I was too busy laughing at myself to get up! I’m laughing right now just thinking about it! And guess what? Not too long after that day, I mastered my double pirouette and I’ve been a turnin’ machine ever since! The name of the game when it comes to anything in dance is NO FEAR! You can do it!
“Connect The Dots of Your Body”
Man, these titles are starting to get a liiitttlllee weird but stay with me here. I promise it will all make sense! One of the ways to ensure that you will get a nice, clean turn is by making sure everything is connected and in correct alignment. Make sure your foot is connected to your turning leg, your hands meet together in front of you, tuck your tailbone and tighten your core. If you’re doing a ballet pirouette, you’re working leg should meet your turning leg in passé, which will make your body create the shape of a “4”. If you’re doing a jazz pirouette, your working leg should meet your turning leg in parallel, which will make your body create a vertical line. By making sure you “connect the dots of your body”, your body will come together in the perfect way and in the correct alignment that will allow you to get around in your turn cleanly. It takes a little work but after all, we are defying the odds of the human body! How cool is that?!
One of the most commonly used terms in dance is “pull up” or “don’t sit in your hips”. This term means to stand up as straight as you can, which allows you to distribute your weight in a way that will help you with balance and fluidity. When you’re turning, imagine that there is a string at the top of your head pulling your body upward. Using this analogy will get you into the habit of pulling your body up without much thought, which will result in a nice pirouette.
“Know Your Limit”
Make sure you always conquer one level before going to another. If you’ve just accomplished a clean single pirouette, then go on to a double. After you get a clean double, then go onto a triple and so on and so forth. Never get into too big of a hurry when learning something new. Be patient and take your time. Trying to hurry the process of improvement will make it harder to learn but patience will allow you to grow with excellence!
Spot, Spot, Spot!
Last but definitely not least, don’t forget to spot! Spotting is single handedly the most important factor in any turn. Spotting is done by locating a spot on the wall in front of you before you start your turn and as you turn, keep your eyes on that spot on the wall and whenever you lose sight of that spot, quickly whip your head around and find that spot again. Spotting too quickly will make you dizzy and spotting too slow will hinder you from achieving multiple turns. However, there is a way to practice spotting. Stand in front of a wall and focus on a spot on the wall that is eye level, don’t spot too high or too low. Keep your focus on that spot and walk, in place, around in a circle, while keeping your eyes on that spot for as long as you can. As soon as you lose sight of your spot, whip your head around and find it again! This allows you to train your body and get yourself used to the feeling and the concept of spotting without actually having to do a full pirouette!
I hope these tips help you on your journey to acing those pirouettes! Have a great Friday and I will see you next week for another From the Top blog post!