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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Pirouette Frustrations


irishprincess

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I'm not a great "spinner". Although every part of me longs to do sweet fouette turns, I'm still stuck on basic pirouettes.

 

I practice constantly, but I've noticed a trend in myself. I like coup turns. When my foot is coup in front of my standing leg, I do pretty well on turning. (Not sure if that's the official term, but...) Bringing my toe to my knee always manages to knock me over. Now, I realize a real pirouette has to have to the toe to the knee......but can I learn anything from my coup success? Why is the knee throwing off my balance so badly?

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It’s not difficult to get yourself out of alignment when your foot goes to retire. You are probably in pretty good alignment when you are turning in coupe it seems. Anyway, without seeing you turn, it is difficult to say much specific. Ask your teacher about your turns. He or she should be able to help you quite a bit.

 

In my experience learning to do reasonable pirouettes is simply a matter of persistence, patience and practice. They will get better, then worse, and then better again. Though it is difficult, don’t get frustrated either. That just compounds the problem. If it helps, I’ve been in class with one of the most famous ballerinas in the world and watched her fall off double pirouettes from fifth. Yes, she was doing them on pointe, but she did it nonetheless. If the best in the world can have bad pirouette days, certainly we infinitely far worse than best can also.

 

I’d also not dwell too much on the specific pirouettes you are having trouble with. Rather practice all of your turns, two-footed turns, all types of pirouettes, and promenades. I swear there is something of a “rotational world” and making yourself comfortable in that rotational world will improve your ability to rotate.

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I’d also not dwell too much on the specific pirouettes you are having trouble with. Rather practice all of your turns, two-footed turns, all types of pirouettes, and promenades. I swear there is something of a “rotational world” and making yourself comfortable in that rotational world will improve your ability to rotate.

 

I really like that statement, Gary! :)

 

Irishprincess, the position you are talking about is cou de pied devant. Coupé is an action, not a position. (However, I'd say that this term incorrectly used by about 90% of the ballet population. :) )

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Irishprincess, the position you are talking about is cou de pied devant. Coupé is an action, not a position. (However, I'd say that this term incorrectly used by about 90% of the ballet population. :D )

 

Well, at least I'm not alone. :blushing::D

 

Garyecht, that does help a lot. I guess it makes sense. If you can find your balance in a bunch of turns, it'll get easier to simply find it and keep it.

 

I don't have a teacher at the moment, but I will pester my brother to watch me. He's good at this.

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I love to turn. I have had problems with pirouette as well and found that practicing at the barre going from 5th to retire with letting go of the barre immediately has really helped. If you wait till your feel balanced to let go of the barre, it does you no good in turns. I also like to progress to my turns. This exercise is tremendously the reason I am good at pirouettes now! But you must do it religiously...which may be difficult out of class.

 

Do quarter turns with a hold in each new direction. So prep through 4th position, then pirouette one quarter, slide working leg down the standing leg to 5th. Do this 4 times right (to make a full 360 degrees), then left. Then progress to half turns (face back, then front) 2 times right, then left. Then do 1 single full turn right, left, right, left.

 

As you do the exercise concentrate on the end not the turn (which may sound funny, but it works). Make it your goal to end right where you began meaning don't hop, or move off the exact spot you started. It may require to come down into plie before your working leg hits 5th position, but it will work!

 

It's tempting to be dissatisfied with quarter turns and single pirouettes. Resist. Enjoy!

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It's tempting to be dissatisfied with quarter turns and single pirouettes.

 

Okay.....you nailed it on the head with this one. :D I really am quite impatient with my foundling dance skills. Back to the basics on this one.....start over, and I can build back up, right?

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My two cents worth-

 

Going to retire usually leads to losing alignment for me. Specifically, not holding the hips level side to side plus keeping the turnout in the hips. Really concentrating on that gives me consistently better turns - but of course I'm not good enough yet to really concentrate on that more than about 10% of the time! :D

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Not sure if this applies, but does anyone ever find themselves bending "forward" to catch their balance? My teacher used to get on me all the time about this. She said my body -felt- like it should go forward, but should actually go backwards to fix my balance.

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