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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Soutenou Turns en Pointe On a Diagonal


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Today in class we were doing soutenou (sp?) turns across the floor on a diagonal and (like all other turns in ballet that I attempt en pointe) I COULD NOT GET ALL THE WAY AROUND! It was like my feet and knees were getting tangled up. I know that 1) my opposite shoulder and back were suppose to push forward (they weren't) and I know 2)-for example going to the right- when I step on the right foot I should close the left quickly in the front, turn around, then come down on the left foot in plie ready to step up again on the right foot (but that was not happening), I also know that 3)I should keep my focus up and spotting to the corner that I'm going to (though my eyes kept drifting to the floor)..... I kept trying to correct these things but it just was not happening! I think that number 2 (shifting the weight onto the closing foot- which becomes the back foot) is a big problem for me.

What is the problem with me that I KNOW what I need to do but I DON'T do it physically?

Why is any weight shift/turn on pointe so difficult for me? Could this just be carried over from the fact that I'm a poor turner on flat?

Why is it that I take extra classes during the week entirely ON pointe (even though they are regular ballet first/pointe last 20 minutes for a lower level than mine), then practice by myself 30 minutes after class is over- on things such as one footed releves on pointe in the center, AND I practice 3x times a week to strengthen my feet and ankles with theraband exercises, yet there are girls that just take class only 3x a week with a little bit of pointe and have never done theraband exercises and they EASILY did one-footed releves on pointe in the center today and I struggled?

I've been doing everything I can think of to get better on turns, and at pointe work in general for the last 3 years, yet I'm constantly behind. I can't even blame it on age because there are adults on this board who have stated that turns are actually EASY for them on pointe.

What's the problem with me? :blushing:

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It sounds to me like you simply do not have your body weight in forward gear. You are probably stepping on pointe on the right foot with your leg leading instead of your body, therefore you cannot get your weight into the left leg and get around, so gravity pulls you down. Piqué soutenu turns are about as easy as it gets in consecutive turns, but you still have to know how to move on a piqué. You cannot lead with the leg and expect to get there. It takes the push from the plié as well as getting the body up and over the legs. The higher you are away from the floor the more forward over the feet you need to be. So, on pointe one must always be "over" the legs. Don't let them get out in front of you beyond that moment of dégagé before the piqué. :blushing:


You also mention that you tend to look down, which would mean not spotting. Focus and spot are essential to get where you are going. You are in control of that. It is something you simply focus on doing. Maintain your head up and focus your eyes on where you are going. That, of course, has to be practiced, like anything else, but it is really an easy fix, since it is a matter of concentration and determination.


My students are always practicing pirouettes. Great. But, I never see any of them practicing the things they get corrected on constantly, like the spot, the position of the leg and foot, or the port de bras. They just want to DO pirouettes. Fine. My answer to that is go join the circus! :wink: If you want to do pirouettes in ballet, you have to own the ingredients that cause a pirouette to happen, and there are a lot of them. They don't just happen, they have to be practiced. Endlessly. But first they must be taught and understood, starting with the alignment of the bones and the placement of the weight, what motivates the turn, the technique of the relevé or the piqué action, the spot, etc., etc., etc. It's a complicated pie with lots of ingredients, and if you leave any of them out, it will not be a good pie! :o

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Thank you for your reply Ms. Leigh. I indeed do have trouble getting my weight OVER my legs and feet, even in flat shoes. I think this may even be exacerbated by the fact that I'm fairly tall (5'5'' or 5'6'') and if I'm NOT over my legs, oh boy the centrifical (sp?) force really pulls me back.

Okay, so in addition to more push of the other leg, how else can I get my weight to be more forward? Should I use more force to propel my upper body over my leg? Should I take a smaller step on the initial brush out degage?

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Move from the torso, not by leading with the legs. At the moment you step on pointe the torso should already be ahead of the legs. But learning to keep your weight forward starts at the barre, and must be done with everything, not just pointe work or pirouettes.

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And although I have no documentation to support this idea, I have a hunch that just as many fouettés are practiced in class because of their use especially in the "Black Swan" pas de deux, these piqués soutenous are practiced as they are the "applause machine" step for Nikiya in the coda of the Shades scene in La Bayadère. We learned them, but I seem to see them far more often these days than I used to.

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  • 2 weeks later...

That's funny. I'm not particularly good at fouette turns and absolutely DREAD them in class. I occasionally practice them, but don't really stress about it.


I figure that I'll probably never actually be asked to perform them on stage:)


Lame ducks turns and soutenus on the other hand....yep. Gotta practice those a lot. I've had to do tons of them on stage.

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This actually sounds like the same problem i'm working desperately to correct right now in my classes. like you said, weight not being forward enough will for sure hold you back from turning, but it has to start with things as basic as how you stand...yes stand on flat. it is a matter of your shoulders being directly over your shoulders, the easiest way to do this is to stand sideways and start in parallel by keeping the weight absolutely off of your heels, this automatically brings you forward, and then when you go into a turned out first, you still have to think of the forward in your torso - like you're able to look over the front of your tutu. it takes awhile (i'm still struggling with it away from the barre, and on pointe) but its something that you have to think about on flat, just standing first. the other image that my teacher gave me was the your stomach muscles must be engaged going up and inside your ribs - sounds gross, but like a thread is going through your stomach and then up inside your chest and out through you heart pulling you forward. she says that you should dance giving your heart to the audience...or the mirror as the case may be...ha! it's so comforting though to see other with this issue! at my studio most of the girls started there or were trained by the teachers at other studios so they get this stuff...i started late and with poor training and no one ever told me that my weight was far back before - i just compesated with other poor things. oy vey. just know though that it can be fixed!

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Thanks all for support. Funny, I've taken a look at other subjects I've posted on Ballet Alert and it always seems like I'm complaining! I apologize guys, I really don't mean to whine and sound crabby it's just that when I don't "get" something I become obsessed with it. In grade school and in college, academic things (especially writing) always was a breeze to me. Physical things have never come easy to me (except for running long distant track in grade school). It took me forever to learn to swim, but I finally did it by practicing everyday on my own. Now ballet seems to be the "it" thing for me. I always tell people that I "love" ballet and need it everyday, but now I'm wondering is my love for it an obsession, because I want to excel in ALL aspects of ballet: I'm good at barre, sometimes good in center, not so good at pointe... so I'm constantly obsessing over getting better at pointe... could be a good thing or a bad thing.

Anyway. I've been trying to apply what Ms. Leigh talked about. Today (in the lower level I take with pointe shoes from beginning to end) I was VERY light on the barre and spent alot of time with my hand completely off of it. Glancing from the side into the mirror I could see my alignment/timing was a bit off, but I truly got the feeling of "dancing." I tried to keep my weight forward and imagined doing every barre exercise as if it were a performance in the center with no barre at all. Honestly, once we did get in the center I felt stronger, more secure. Once class was over I stayed my usual extra 30 minute to work on turns and such and I feel a little better with the soutenu turns en pointe. I'm even starting to feel a little better with en dedan turns en pointe from a lunge (I just have to keep reminding myself to keep my eyes up). :thumbsup:

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Yesterday, we started practicing soutenue turns on pointe in RAD Adv1. I think they are fun - to the right at least :-)

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