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Ballet Talk for Dancers
JennyKaye

Pirouettes and me...

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Victoria Leigh

Jenny, you really should have been taught what a sickle foot is very early in your training. It's when the foot curves inward and sort of looks like a sickle, which is that curved thing that farmers use. Instead of the toes pointing straight from the ankle, they curve inward and do not look very pretty. This happens either because one is "over-pointing", or because they are not using their rotation properly, which is the more usual reason. This is something your teacher needs to show you, and then use her hands to fix your foot so that you can both see and feel the correction.

 

To work on it yourself, you need to know how to correctly place your foot in tendu. IF you understand that, then that same foot shape is used for everything, especially in retiré for the pirouette position. If you learn how to rotate from the hip, and point your foot in a straight line with your leg, then carry that position of the leg and foot to everywhere you go...then you will not sickle! Sounds simple, doesn't it? It's not! :D

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JennyKaye

Thanks for that, I thought that was what it meant but I like to check so I am not getting things wrong... sorry for sounding a bit stupid :)

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Victoria Leigh

Jenny, not stupid at all! I did not mean to infer that it was your fault. We have had many others ask this question too. My problem with it is that I have to wonder about the quality of the teaching going on if a student who is at the stage of learning pirouettes has not been taught what a sickle foot is and how to correct it!

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Guest benny369

HI-

 

I was a relatively late starter to dancing, and turns in general did not come very easy to me at first. Just some tips that I found useful as someone who wasn't trained from scratch how to do pierouettes. Mr. Johnson and Ms. Leigh may disagree with me on some of this, but I just figured i'd give some tips. I think turning is all about the starting position, the arms, and the spotting. 1st you really need to start in a good deep plie in either 4th or 5th position. Then you need to make sure that as you go into releve, neither front nor back heel lifts before you are ready to go into the pierouette. It helps to just to practice springing from 4th position into a retire releve without lifting the front heel. This will get you started in the right direction. One other thing you need to do is spring up fast, and pull your passe in as high as you can, as quick as you can...it will put your body in the right position faster. I would practice the spring at the barre and then keep doing it there until you can let go of the bar for balance...then I would start doing them at center. Then once you have mastered the spring up from 4th or 5th position, you should work on your arms. The most important thing for me was meeting my front arm...what i mean by this is that you need to put your one arm in second and then your other arm pointed forward, and instead of whipping your arms out and then into first position, keep your front arm forward and meet it with your arm that's in second position...that will help immensely when you start to actually do the turns. Once mastery of the arms takes place it's all up the spotting and balance you have. A good spotting excercise is to do a tendu second, plie 4th, and do 1/4 turn, then immediately tendu 2nd, plie 4th and 1/2 turn, keep doing this, learning how to whip your head around to the correct wall and it will really help with your spotting...well i hope some of these tips will help...they've really improved my turns. GOOD LUCK

 

Ben

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JennyKaye

retire releve without lifting the front heel? I thought a releve was a lift onto demi pointe...

 

Do you mean just lift my back leg as if going to do a pirouette without lifting the front foot off the floor?

 

Sorry for sounding a bit silly :wacko:

 

Thanks for the advice anyhow! I will be trying it in my kitchen tonight!

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Mel Johnson

AHA! :)

 

I think I know where Ben is going with this! And as far as things go, yes, beginnings are very important. Remember also, that everything has a beginning, a middle and an ending, and all three must be coordinated.

 

"Lifting the front heel" is one thing that is seen rather frequently, especially among male dancers! Not only does the front heel lift, but the turnout on that leg suddenly disappears right before the turn. That's a no-no! The rotation and turnout of the supporting leg must be maintained, especially for the balance!

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Victoria Leigh

JennyKaye, I think you are confusing the relevé action with something different that Ben was trying to explain. When you are in the preparatory position, like 5th or 4th, you must use your demi plié by pushing the heels down into the floor before the relevé. If you don't do this, very often one heel, or even both, might lift off the floor BEFORE the relevé, and usually, as Mr. Johnson noted above, the front foot will then also swivel inward and you would be pushing off of a turned in leg. NOT a good thing! The weight of the body in 4th position should be in the front leg, but both feet push off the floor from the plié with the heels down!

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Guest meliss83

when balancing in passe i tend to rest my working foot on my opposite leg... (the side of my knee) i'm guessing this is wrong, is it just a matter of strength and flexibility to keep my foot there without resting it?

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Victoria Leigh

Melissa, it's really a matter of training yourself NOT to do that! The practice of retiré and retiré passé at the barre, especially when you balance in that position, is specifically to teach you the pirouette position. Therefore, it is usually included numerous times in the barre work. Spend time practicing the position itself, first on flat, then on relevé. Then, in the center practice doing a promenade in that position, to help you to hold the foot in the right place while turning. Practice both en dehors and en dedans. Then practice relevé to the position, and then relevé around the corner. Do this until you can maintain a pointed foot that is NOT RESTING on the other leg! Then think about a pirouette.

 

Without a good position to turn in, the pirouette is useless. Just going around is not what it's about. It has to LOOK good :(

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Morgan

I'm having trouble maintaining my turn out when I do a double pirouette. The first turn will be turned out, but as I continue to go around I end up in a jazz pirouette. When I do a single pirouette I don't generally have a problem with turnout. Is this simply a lack of strength to maintain my turnout through out the turn?

 

Thanks!

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Victoria Leigh

Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, Morgan. :)

 

It is most likely because you start coming down instead of continuing upward on the second turn, and, because you are not continuing to lift out of your legs, the rotation you start with is not being held. In order to keep your retiré leg opening, you have to be busy defying gravity, not caving in to it! Also, be sure that you are getting that second spot happening. A lot of young dancers really only spot once and then think it's over before it's over. :thumbsup:

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Morgan

Thanks for your quick response! If you don't mind I have another turn related question. I can't seem to get all the way around in an arabesque turn. I especially have trouble when we have to do one turn, go down (back to flat, plie), and turn again. Any advice?

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D.Laszlo

I'm having trouble getting started on my double pirouettes. I know I should be able to do them but I tend to freak out a bit and do a singe instead. How should a double pirouette properly be executed? Also does anyone have any suggestions on how to keep myself from chickening out when trying to do a double?

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esmeralda1210

I can do a solid double to my right and almost to my left, but I'm working on a triple pirouette and cannot seem to get it. any tips?

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Mel Johnson

Do the double and then don't stop.

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