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Jaana Heino

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Could some of the dear teachers discuss the use of arms in your basic, standard pirouette en dehors (from fifth or fourth, returning to fifth or fourth)? I am especially puzzled about the "working side" arm. I know it's supposed to open on or right after the beginning plié and close to first in the beginning / during the turn, and I have been corrected both about not opening it enough and about "throwing" the arm to generate force for the turn, which I know I am not supposed to do. But what is the function of opening it in the first place?


I would have asked my teacher, but I had an accute attack of despair with a bit too fast for me pirouette combination in class today, and wouldn't have been able to speak... it was enough to be able to try and execute the corrections. :wacko:

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Jaana, there are two different theories of turning, based on the preparatory position. If you are using the rounded front arm in the preparation, then that arm will open to the side as you start around the corner. HOWEVER, the turn is not initiated by the arm, but by the torso (along with the push out of the plié) and especially the back muscles. The movement of the torso opens that arm. As you start around the corner, the other side of the body catches up to the first side and you end in first position (5th en avant), so you actually do not even bring that first arm inward.


If you use the straight front arm preparation, the principal of that turn is more like a top, where you pull the string towards you and the top starts to spin. From this position of the arms they should come straight inward to first position at the moment of relevé and turning impetus around the corner. If using the straight front arm it DOES NOT go to the side! This is the main cause of all the ugly, angular positions in turning being used today, both in en dehors pirouettes and also in fouettés and turns en diagonal. It looks much more like karate than ballet! :wink::yes::wacko:

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Thank you!


We do the first version (a rounded front arm, which opens and is "caught up" by the turn - my main teacher is very strict about the fact that the arm must be rounded, and open instead of being thrown to generate force). I think my problem is with the "the movement of the torso opens the arm" -part. I am variously corrected for not using the arm, and throwing it, by the same teacher, so obviously I haven't found the right way to do it yet!


I'm not sure I understand it completely still, though...


I am taught to think about a slight push from behind my supporting side shoulder blade when I go up from the plié to the turn. Do you consider this is as a correct image, and if so, could you tell me if the working side arm should open at the same time with that, or before or after?


Let's suppose I don't open the arm, but do everything else correctly - what would happen? Does something go wrong in the pirouette (balance? force of turn?), or will the arms "just" look wrong?

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Yes, Jaana, the front arm should open with the push from the back on the supporting side. If that arm does not open it could stop the movement of the turn.


Try this experiment: take your preparation as usual for an en dehors pirouette to the right, place your right hand on your hip, and do the turn. This will force you to use the left side of your back to do the turn. It should help you to feel the impetus from the back. Another experiment: do the preparation but let both arms totally hang at your sides, no position at all. Do a pirouette, using only the torso to generate the force. The arms will move almost totally naturally because of the force of the body.


The interesting thing about pirouettes is that the arms do not create or generate the turn, but they certainly help in maintaining it and especially in doing more pirouettes. But you can do at least one pirouette without any arms at all.

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Thank you, Ms Leigh, that clarifies it. I liked especially the second experiment, trying to do the turn letting the arms just hang: the supporting side arm really "opens" slightly "by itself" if my arms are completely relaxed! I think I understood something about how it should feel, and can't wait to try it in class.

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I personally teach the pirouette with a rounded arm at the front.. and (if it's a single or double pirouette) with no opening of the arm at all.. Usually, what I see if the arm is opened, is a slight twist of the body towards that arm, or/and a throwing (so strongly that it would be appropriate for 5 turns!) of that arm in the preparation.


Then if it works (it should work perfectly well... The single or double pirouette doesn't require as much force as many more turns, so the arm is only optional. It's preferred without emphasise of it in the RAD method BTW), you can add a slight opening of the arm, and especially as you multiply the turns because it really helps then. :thumbsup:

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