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Ballet Talk for Dancers


Guest JLynn

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Guest JLynn

I am having a terrible time trying to do pirouettes. I've been dancing for about 1 1/2 years and I still can't land a single consistently! I have done some very nice ones, but I don't know what I was doing that made them work.

I've asked my instructor to watch me and tell me what I'm doing incorrectly. She told me I was pushing too hard with my back leg and losing balance. Now I'm pushing too softly and not making it all the way around.

I'm having a hard time finding my center in this turn. I'm doing everything I've been instructed to do, but I'm still not feeling balanced and centered.

I also have a hard time spotting this turn. I can't keep my eyes on my spot very well.


Anyone have any suggestions on things I could try to make my pirouette more consistent?

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As you prepare for your pirouette, draw your abdominals in and up, and deepen this feeling as you turn. Also, try to think of pressing down into the earth with your supporting leg even as you lengthen your spine. Imagine a tree: the roots go down; the branches go up--just remember not to lift your shoulders! You don't really need to use your back leg all that much to pirouette; instead, use your back to turn. Pull the muscles in your upper back down as you prepare, and as you pirouette, continue that action while pulling the right shoulder back (if you're turning right) and bringing the left shoulder forward. It might be useful if you think of yourself in as two-dimensional--for example, don't think of going around in an even circle, but try to "flip" around quickly toward the front. Make certain your spine is absolutely vertical and that you are well pulled up in the supporting hip joint and that both legs are firmly rotated outward. If it helps, you could also perhaps think of an upward spiral. There are a great many things to think about during pirouettes--some things work for some but not for others. Try experimenting a bit with different ideas with your teacher's guidance to see what images work for you, what it helps most to concentrate on, &c. Hope this helps!

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THat's great advice, from Hans--


DOn't despair -- it does take time for some people, but you'll find one day when one goes well, what FUN it is to turn --fearr of turning is a problem for many people....... I find it helps to PUSH STRAIGHT DOWN on the standing leg throughout hte turn, and to have arranged things so i can BREATHE OUT as I turn; breathing out seems to help unify hte ribs and shoulders and simplify everything, also to make the spotting (a little ) easier, so I breathe in on hte preparation, and out as I go up.....


I'm NOT a great turner, so I really sympathize; jumping seems natural and easy, but turning does not seem "natural" -- I've had to work at it, but when it happens, what fun!!

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Guest beckster

It helps me to think of the back leg as being for the releve, not for the turn. The turn comes more from the arms and the back. Try pirouettes from 5th or 2nd, because then it is much harder to use the leg to get you round. Or do a releve, releve with 1/4 turn sequence, to get the feel of the upwards movement rather than being focussed on getting round a full 360.

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Guest piccolo

Try working on pushing off from fourth position into retire releve and balancing for several slow counts -- no turning. If you can't balance for very long, I would work just on that until you can balance. On the other hand, if you can balance without any trouble, then you'll need to examine what your arms & back & head might be doing to throw you off once you start to turn.

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Guest JLynn

Thank you for all your suggestions!


I have class tomorrow and I will be trying some of the things suggested here. I'll let you know how it works out!

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I find the biggest thing helping my turns lately is to forget about the mechanics and just do it. I get so wound up in thinking of all the details that I blow the turn completely. My best turns come when I try to think of one aspect of the turn and focus on it - like keeping my arms solid in first when turning, or making sure my weight is solid on my turning leg. I try to relax and forget about the rest of it. I'm not saying it's not important to think about all aspects of a turn. I know for me it makes me too eager and I overthink the turn. Try working on one element of the turn in each class. Over a few weeks it all becomes second nature.

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Guest Nadezhda

I don't have such problems. What happeins with me is that in piruettes en dehors (en dedans come naturally to me - maybe because of my lack of turn out) I start jumping around on my supporting leg while ending the turn. I tried to think of pushing into the floor, but that doesn't really help much.


Any advice? :confused:

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Try "springing down' at the end of the turn -- since it IS over already...

my teacher has us do it that way... a "soft spring"


(both heels touch down at the same time).


it makes for a decisive, clean finish, and it tends to stop that "hiccupping" thing of hopping to stay up....


we practice the springing action facing hte barre-- first on 2 feet, in first the exercise is in 2 halves, the first without the spring, the second WITH


so slowly and evenly: plie,2, roll up to releve,2 roll down to plie,2, releve


then with an instantaneous action


spring down to plie, 2, and SPRING to releve, 2, hands off hte barre, look left, look right....


then do it again on one foot, the other in coupe back, same action, same sequence (though the head turn is optional).


Repeat in first, and then on hte other foot.....


it's an excellent exercise, since both rolling and springing are useful actions, important to know the difference -- for fast double pirouettees the springing action is so much more efficient

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Guest Nadezhda

Ok, Paul, I will try that and it may help. I'll keep you posted, but right now I'm recovering after a severe cold and it might take a while to return to classes.


Thanks anyway! :)

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O you poor thing!! I HATE those heavy colds...


Hope you feel better soon...


But you knw, sometimes a forced rest is good for your dancing -- in any case, I'm sure you'll be glad to be back


Drink lots of WATER,, so good for you....

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  • 4 weeks later...
Guest sissonne

One correction one of my instructors gave me that made all of the difference in the world was to narrow my stance in pirouettes from 4th position. I didn't realize that my stance was too wide and throwing me off. The smallest little adjustment, but corrected the problem of my wobbly pirouettes.

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Guest Nadezhda

Well, thank you both! (I forgot to reply to this post sooner.)


I did recover, but it was a nasty cold. :) I'm back to classes, but lots of my strength is gone, so I'm still struggling! Being only two months from my graduation exams, I am really busy and will slowly stop going to class to find extra time to study. But not quite now. :)


Thanks again. I will try that and report how I progress. It will be a slow process, though. :)

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Guest sissonne

Glad you've recovered, but GAH! I hate how I feel going back to class after being ill. I feel your pain. As if missing class for a week or so didn't zap your strength enough, you're recovering from a cold as well!


Good luck with exams.....and of course, with pirouettes!!:)

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