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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Too Much Force


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Well I recently started to take force from my front arm by opening it during pirouettes but it just made everything worse.


Apart from my confusing turning skills, I just take too much force for a one single pirouette, that it feels like if I keep my body technically perfect, I could turn 3 or 4 times. But instead, I start to think like "ok there was something definitely wrong, either my legs or my back or my arms, I don't know; but surely, my teacher wouldn't appreciate it even if I keep turning and turn 4 times to break a record" and I try to stop in the middle (between first and second turn) and I get thrown away by my own force. I just want to do one, perfect pirouette like a normal person without too much force or something else and finish the turn in the perfect position :shrug:


How can I control this force? What must I think or do, any tips?

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Yes, just don't take any force. One pirouette is not much more than a relevé around the corner! You need very, very little force to turn one time. :shrug: You do, however, need to get up high on your supporting leg and be well centered.

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Skyish, I have a similar problem because turning makes me nervous and so I always try too hard. This almost always ends up meaning I use too much force. Recently, in one of my classes, we were doing pirouettes across the room to fairly slow music and my teacher kept on telling me to slow down. I'm not sure why, but thinking about slowing down really helped, maybe because I stopped trying as hard. I've tried to remind myself to slow down in some of my other classes when I get to uptight about pirouettes and it does seem to help. Even just trying a really slow pirouette in between exercises reminds me that I really don't need very much force. Maybe you could try that? It might be one of those things that only works for me, but I thought I would share.

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Just a life observation...


The harder you try to fix your pirouettes, the worse they become. Harder being the key word. Tension creeps in and mucks with everything. :angry:


Ms. Leigh posted awhile back regarding the breathing pattern involved with pirouettes and it has helped my students quite a bit. I tried to find the thread to no avail. But in a nutshell, you breathe in on the preparation and out during the turn. This helps disburse that nasty tension.

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Thanks for advices; and ToThePointe, you are absolutely right.


I'm asking questions, and trying to improve and doing my best...but actually I'm pretty much hopeless about my pirouettes. Because when I calm down, and turn with less effort and less anxiety, less force; I feel that I can do it, but my teacher never compliments or never says "you did it right" (to me):angry: So I guess I just don't know how a perfect pirouette must feel, and I think I will never achieve it :P And especially this thought of mine makes me try harder and harder and which also makes everything worse just like you said...


And the worst thing is, I once managed to do a pirouette "on pointe" but I realized that I put my working foot in the front at the end (which is wrong during a 4th position pirouette)(it is because I keep my center of gravity too forward I guess?) and while trying to change it, I fell a few times very badly and now I don't have the courage to try it again... I know that I must "perfect" my demi-pointe pirouette before the pointe work but stil... :o


Nevertheless, I feel more comfortable when my arms are in the 3rd position, it makes me pull up more I guess but I just don't know how to raise my arms properly during the turn? :shrug: Is it like 1)opening the front arm 2)getting both arms to the first position 3) raising to 3rd position (if so, when must this raising action occur? in the second quarter?) or 1)opening the arm 2) raising both arms to the 3rd ? :shrug:

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And the worst thing is, I once managed to do a pirouette "on pointe" but I realized that I put my working foot in the front at the end (which is wrong during a 4th position pirouette)


Actually the foot does go in the front for pirouettes unless otherwise choreographed.


As far as the arms (I assume by third you are speaking of the Russian system), there are few ways of getting them there. You have given two of the ways. One is to close the side arm to first position (don't open the front arm) and then raise them to third. Another is to open the front arm to second and then raise them to third.


As far as timing for the first, the arm moves to first as you releve retire, and they proceed up from there. For the second one, the front arm goes to second right before take off.


Just remember... I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.

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Actually the foot does go in the front for pirouettes unless otherwise choreographed.



Just to make sure, are we talking about the retire position or the 4th position we land on "after" the pirouette? Because I was taught to land just as the same as I start turning :angry: Like right foot on the front, retire left foot to passe, land on right foot on the front?


One is to close the side arm to first position (don't open the front arm) and then raise them to third. Another is to open the front arm to second and then raise them to third.


I'm really surprised, because I used to get told off frequently because of this "closing the side arm" and not opening the front arm thing! And it was the most comfortable to turn with 3rd position arms and without opening the front arm for me =( Maybe I was doing the right thing by instinct but anyway, that's not my teacher wants from me...


I wanted to tell you, thank you all for replying my posts because I have an important part in Sleeping Beauty (Carabosse) I don't have a choreography yet, and only a few students can do a pirouette on pointe (guess who =) Aurora, Lilac fairy, Princess Florestine and Finger Fairy of course) and for the rest of the variations, teachers have changed the combinations to make them easier and cut out the pirouette parts if there are any and I don't want them to do the same thing for me; I want to deserve my part, I want it to be challenging and I want to be able to turn on pointe by this April :P

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In en dehors pirouettes, the foot which is in retiré descends the supporting leg to end in back. But you have to be ready to put it anywhere, after you've got the basic pirouette correct. This holds true for the basic academic pirouette from a fourth position start, or even the older second position start.

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But what about en dedans? Because I cannot turn en dehors that successfully yet as I'm a bit lefty when it comes to turns. And I meant that I "was" doing en dedans pirouettes and was putting my working leg on the front while landing; is that correct for a beginning?? And if it is, did I fall down several times for nothing?!

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I'm not understanding the third position arms, in terms of just working on a pirouette. Pirouettes more often use a first positiion (Cecchetti fifth en avant), and the third or fifth en haut position is used choreographically. Are we talking about en dehor pirouettes here? If so, unless you are doing consecutive turns from fifth to fifth, the retiré leg closes to the fifth or fourth in back.


Edit - Ah, okay, skyish. We were posting at the same time! En dedans pirouettes do often use the en haut position of the arms, and, yes, they close front, fifth or fourth.

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Yes, and the "third" here is the Legat/Vaganova third, which is Cecchetti fifth en haut.

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Yes, I'm talking about 5th position of French school when I say 3rd. (at first I was getting confused too, because when I was a child I was doing French ballet, and in this studio when my teacher said 3rd, I used to do "one arm up one arm side" position=) Now I've got used to the Vaganova language=) )


I'm really angry about this subject, I could have got injured while trying to close my leg to back. Now I'm gonna have to start all over again to gain courage and do it on pointe =( Thanks for the tips...


P.S. My pirouette on pointe is back=) It's painfully slow but I'm getting there=)

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When I was coming along, my teacher used to make us do an exercise with pirouette fractions, to help us realize how much force we need (or rather, how much we don't need) to do one pirouette. We would do a standard perparation of tendu side, plie fourth, pirouette. First, we would do two quarter-turns, ending the first one facing the right-hand wall and the second one facing the back wall. Then we would do two half-turns, first one ends facing the front and the second one to the back. Then we would do two three-quarter turns, the first one ending to the right-hand wall again and the second one to the front. Then we would do two whole single pirouettes. Then if she was satisfied with our work, we'd do it again, adding a single turn each time: one-and-a-quarter, one-and-a-half, one-and-three-quarters, double. Working up this way really helps you feel how the turn works and also helps you to work on your control. You want to try to end each turn en releve. It's much easier to feel that after a quarter turn, so once you find it there you can work on it in the subesquent increasing turns.

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