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Double pirouettes


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I need some help with double pirouettes. My singles are okay, but now (that the dance year is ending) teachers are asking for doubles. Granted, I'm not a natural turner. If I do a double it usually happens accidentally. For a teacher to specifically ASK for a double, I just can't get around :crying: Some things that I know I should be doing and the problems I have doing them are............

1) Head, "spot... spot!" We all have heard that phrase, but I just can't MAKE my head "spot... spot."

2) Stay on releve..... sometimes this helps, usually ending with a very slow 3/4 turn or a slow double, or just getting "stuck" in releve on the marley-unable to move.

3)"Turning heel turned out, retire knee turned out and pushing out (en dehor), and opposite shoulder/back sharply coming in (en dehor)"... I totally don't know HOW to keep that heel turned out, it always turns in then my whole standing leg turns in, the turned out retire knee I can do, the opposite shoulder/back is ALWAYS behind which drags me behind!

It's like I KNOW what to do, and I can help teach others, but HOW can I apply these things to myself and MAKE MY body do it ? :)

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One of my teachers told me that for multiple pirouettes, the first should be the quickest (in terms of speed), even if you just aim for a double - it helped me a lot.

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Guest mic31

I'm not a natural turner either. I have struggled with pirouettes. I am now winning the struggle. I would suggest, if you can, a private with you teacher. Pirouettes can be a really complicated movement especially for someone who is not a natural turner.

Things to consider, preparation, use of arms, spotting, using the strength of the core muscles to hold you steady in the turns, keeping your hips and shoulders aligned.

Really what I'm getting at is that it is really useful to have an expert, your teacher, lend an eye to your process. :)

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There's so much to put together for a pirouette that I think you have to get to the point where you can stop thinking about all the separate components. Partly that's just repetition, repetition, but partly also your attitude because of the fear factor in turning. Once many years ago when my husband still used to make me go skiiing and I was terrible, but terrible, because of fear, I read a great book called 'The Inner Skiier'. Its advice was basically to assume that you could do it. I've transferred the advice into all kinds of areas since then including pirouettes! It's not that I'm very good at them but can now do doubles quite a lot of the time even on marley floors. Giving yourself permission to be able to do it really does make a difference in any activity where confidence will help.

I also completely agree with getting someone to watch you specially to pick up on any specific weaknesses you might have.

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All great advice, dont think im a natural turner either :)

Just recently we have been advised in class or home I guess to visualize. If you think positively it takes some of the pressure away. There always seems to be people who have fear of turning, our teacher is great and tells us to experiment and not worry about falling, she says she would rather see us try and then fall because then we would know which way we fall and how to correct ourselfs (although when our teacher was training, falling wasnt allowed!)

For me I have found it best not to think too much, just go with the flow, may not be perfect but am seeing slow improvement. I find turning ok especially across the room but off the spot is more difficult for me?!


Also I realised that when attempting doubles en dehor, the fourth position I was going from was a little wide and once adjusted, seemed more comfortable.

One last thing that when beginning pirouette exercises, the first attempt is usually best?!

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Something that really helps is to make sure that both legs are turned out equally so the knee in back is already in the proper position to hit that passe quick. The force comes from both legs being turned out equally and push off the floor with your back foot. I once had a teacher to tell me to almost flick my toes to push off the floor pushing through the ankle on the way to that passe. I almost knocked myself over the first time I did it. The biggie for me though is to keep those arms from getting behind me and close the trailing arm quickly. If the arms are right looking over to keep that spot is a lot easier.

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I found that practicing daily balancing in releve in a piroette position without turning and trying to hold it longer really helped me stay up for that second turn. I would start in a preparatory position and lift into that balance, hold it as long as I could, step back to a finish and then repeat it a number of times. My goal was to increase my ability to move into the balance quickly and hold it. I think it resulting in strengthing my supporting muscles and this in turn gave me more balance and control to stay up when doing a second turn. The rule of thumb I was trying to follow was "the more your fall the more you fall, the more you balance the more you balance", which I heard somewhere, but can't recall where.

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I do a lot of the things Shuffle has mentioned. In just the past 2 months or so have I been consistently hitting doubles after struggling for quite a while. I'd get stuck around 1 1/2 and couldn't blame it all on the floors.


One thing that 3 different teachers have tried to get me to work on is really working on my legs in the piroutte. Take it apart and go through every motion and the positions they're in. My current teacher told me to go through the motions and actually get myself into a plie position and then spring up to simulate the motion (albeit slower with a pirouette).


And don't leg your arms drag you down. I have this problem where I let my arms end up kind of tangled and not always in the proper positions, so my pirouttes can have a definite drag to them, not letting me get all the way around.

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When I started ballet, pirouettes were the thing I did worst. Initially, I couldn’t even do a single from fourth. Jump forward about nine or so years and double en dehors pirouettes from fourth and fifth are perhaps the things I do best in ballet. I wouldn’t say my pirouettes are great by any means, but I do think they are reasonable.


So how did I get from where I started to where I am? I’ve thought long about that. There was never a time where all of a sudden I got it and started going from horrible to reasonable. Improvement was gradual, painstakingly so. I tried employing every correction I heard in class or read about in books, but with only marginal success. I was improving, but way too slowly. Once I could occasionally do some decent turns, I was terribly inconsistent, sometimes turning OK to the right and horribly to the left. Other times the opposite was true. But with time, consistency improved too. Within the last few years, I was watching myself turn in the mirror and did notice something on a day I was turning badly. I noticed that one shoulder ever so slightly was higher than the other. Consequently, I created an image of my shoulders creating a flat disc while turning. I found this image, which I never heard from either a teacher or from reading, worked quite well for me. I still use it when I am having trouble with my turns and it seems to work for me anyway. Since it isn’t a common image, I wouldn’t expect it to work for many others, however. I think we adults in particular have to work with different images and find out what works for us. In my opinion, there isn’t a magical correction or image that suddenly makes us good at turning. We have to find what works for ourselves.


As was mentioned earlier, attitude is also important, and complex. I had a strong desire to improve my turns. That desire created persistence. I practiced all the time. But that desire also created anxiety. I wanted to do better than I was doing and wasn’t. Intellectually, I knew that relaxation was an important aspect of turning, but of course for most of us, telling ourselves to relax just winds up heightening our anxiety. What reduced my anxiety was just the sheer number of pirouettes I had done. After doing so many, you just decide you can do what you can do and you stop caring so much. Consequently, you relax more and your pirouettes improve just as you stop caring about them. Ironic I think.

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  • 4 months later...

My teacher told me to be really grounded and the more determined one is the more likly one is to suceed in doing double pirrouettes.

Edited by yingying932
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Guest pink tights

Dd's teacher recently told me one of the things shes loves most about teaching her current group of young students (11'ish and up) is their lack of FEAR. They just go for it! And they can spin like tops!

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I think fear or lack of confidence is probably a lot of what adult dancers suffer from when they first start pirouettes. If you don't believe you can do it, you probably won't.


My pirouettes are always the best when I've been away from ballet for a while - I haven't built up all my hang ups to hold me back yet. :green:


I also think practice is key. It's horrible practicing spotting because you get dizzy. But if you do it enough, you don't.


I do like the sound of a private lesson focusing on pirouettes. Perhaps one day I will actually get around to having one.

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Guest pink tights

Yes, Kate, that is exactly what dd's teacher was getting at. The young dk's are so full of self confidence!! Sure, they get frustrated but they don't worry about it. They go home, return to class the next day and try again. My dd frequently tells me after a class "it wasn't a good day for turning" or "great day for turns"....glad she's figured that one out! Adults students can learn a thing or two from kids.....


PS...love your Winger posts!!!

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Knock knock teenage dancer, I am currently struggling with double pirouettes as well, but a teacher gave me a great piece of advice. It is similair to what dianec and cassey said, Imagine yourself doing a perfect double in your studio. Imagine it as though it was during class and make it as realistic as you can. Do this before bed and just do it again and again. For me I found that this made me feel a lot more comfortable with doubles.



Another piece of advice I recently got was from Mr.Johnson, he said to think of a double as a single but not stopping.


Good luck with your doubles!- SP239

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