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Fouette turns


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Last night in class my teacher gave a combination that had a fouette turn in it, and six or seven other things fairly high on my level of difficulty scale. I got through everything but that without incident. That step; not so much.

Being familiar with the step from it's fairly frequent use on TV dance programs and in occasional discussion here, it seemed like I ought to know that step. When I tried to do it, I realized my body had no familiarity with it at all, and I can't actually recall ever being presented with it as a new step in my earlier years and I have not been asked to do them in class in the last 4 years either. How could I have missed out on such a common step?

I think it could really be something I have seen everywhere but have never done in a combination; never mind 16 of the suckers. I have done preparations for them at the barre.

Now I am going to have to figure out how to do them from what I know of the preparation, and practice at home because they didn't actually happen for me in class and we do not learn steps one at a time like they were new in my classes. I hope my kitchen "pirouette" space is big enough for safe clearance.


I kind of miss being a 10 year old at times like this. If I was 10 I would just copy the move as best I could and not worry about how to make it happen. Maybe that is how I will think about combinations in class on Thursday. Worry about "how to's" and corrections after the big finish.

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I have learned as an adult starter that in some ways, having no memory of a step is a blessing. At least that way you cannot start off thinking you know only to find that you have incorrect movement patterns.


If you've done the prep at the barre, consider yourself lucky- you have already built the technique and gone through it in slow-motion... now you simply have to turn it... right?


I like fouette turns, but hated them (out of fear) at first. make sure you get a nice deep plie, hit your retire and extension a la second positions every time, and carry forward the little things you already know like arms and spotting. Also, smile. For some reason this seems to help a lot of people in my class! Releases a bit of tension surrounding the turn, I think.



Give yourself permission to fail miserably the first few times... every time you fail you will learn something important about what not to do... and eventually you will get it and wonder what the heck was so hard! Do like the 10 year olds do. :sweating:

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make sure you get a nice deep plie, hit your retire and extension a la second positions every time, and carry forward the little things you already know like arms and spotting.
That's really good advice! If you just did the preparation to retiré on demi-pointe (the bit when you turn the fouetté) then you'd get the shape of it.


I can do about 4 reasonable fouettés in succession turning to the right, but to the left, I have to break the step down as Je Danse does above, and then try to feel the whipping sensation to get me round. I can generally do 2 fouetté turns to the left in the time it would take me to do 4 turns to the right. And that's not ideal as really the momentum for the 'whip' of the fouetté seems to need to be done at some speed. At least, I think so -- hopefully, a real expert will be long later to set us right!

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Fouettes are a bit like swimming - you need to get the co-ordination and the rhythm down pat. Once you have that together with the neccessary strength you're home free. To find the strength to go up and down on the supporting leg 16 times in a row you could practise the releves without the fouette turn. I know that one of my students has mastered them when I see her get into the rhythm. Also you have to think up rather than down and that includes the working leg, which ideally should remain at the same height all the time. Spotting is of course vital as it helps you finish each turn facing front, rather than wandering all over the place. The whip of the head is as important if not more so than the whip of the leg.


By the way take heart - apart from some of those wonder babies in the competitions - this is not normally a step for 10 year olds. More for middle teenagers after several years training. However the fact that they can teach younger kids to do it shows that it is more a trick and about having the right action and co-ordination. Good luck! :sweating:

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Funny, I was trying to do fouette turns a few days ago for the first time ever (in a class) also =) Actually my new teacher thought that I was able to do them but no I wasn't, and she suggested that I work on "chain" pirouettes first. Probably they have some other French name in the ballet terminology, but what I meant by the "chain pirouettes" is the non-stop and constant pirouettes from 5th position done at the same point. Imagine the non-traveling version of Kitri's pirouettes.


So yes, till the time I understood what had to be done, it was quite hard but after that, it is quite easy. I think that they are the best preparation exercises for fouettes. I'm able to do 10 for now (to the left), because I'm not good at spotting. I don't see a particular point but the whole mirror with a speed effect on the sides, so it makes me awfully dizzy after the 10th :sweating:

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but what I meant by the "chain pirouettes" is the non-stop and constant pirouettes from 5th position done at the same point.

Do you mean simply a series of en dehors pirouettes from 5th? (Well you can do then en dedans as well, but I find that quite difficult). Such an exercise is sometimes included in the first tendu and glissé exercises in the centre, in the classes I take.


Or châiné turns, which move across the floor in first?


It seems to me your teacher means the former -- and it would give you the same strengthening training in the relevé that Hamorah describes, as well as help develop the sense of 'up' she recommends, and the ability to stay in alignment and spotting, while turning quite quickly!


whew! it's a remarkable thing we do, isn't it?

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Yep, series of en dehors pirouettes from 5th is what I meant. :thumbsup: Actually I cannot even imagine the en dedans version of this... Gotta try... No, I cannot do them as fast as I can do the others. :sweating:

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En dedans turns from 5th are brain teasers. You need to start with your supporting leg in front. Bu if you do the turn en dehors from 5th as part of a tendu exercise, and then reverse the exercise, that's when you end up with an en dedans pirouette from 5th.


At one of my more advanced classes, one teacher generally just sets the tendu + pirouette exercise to the front, we mark it, then he says "Now reverse it!" Testing to see if our brains as well as bodies are in gear! He calls this the 'bread and butter' of ballet. Well, it is if you've been doing it since you're 10 ...

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