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Ballet Talk for Dancers

How to Practice Doubles Without getting Bad Habits


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Dear Teachers, can you help a motivated adult student out?


My goal for 2019 is to be able to do double pirouettes, from fourth position. In class I often stick to the floor and can’t get around, but the biggest problem is losing balance, losing the pose and losing my relelvé.


Since we don’t practice them enough in class and I am stuck making the same mistakes, I decided to practice at home. So far this year, I have been working on single leg relevés, balances in retiré, preparations with balance and quarter, half and single pirouettes.


Now for my questions: How to practice without reinforcing or acquiring bad habits?


Is it better to ‘hop’ trying to keep the pose and relevé? (the goal being to finish up on retiré).

Or should I avoid hopping (this then leads to my falling off relevé/moving the working leg out of retiré in order not to fall down).


I have heard/read both from teachers and experts. Some say never to hop, as it becomes a bad habit. Others say never allow yourself to fall out of turns/lose the pose, as this can become a habit, too.


Is there maybe another way to practice altogether?


I hope my descriptions of the problem and questions are clear. If not, I would be happy to explain.

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Tari, your descriptions are very good. You are practicing most of the right things, but there are a few more important elements we can address.

Once you have a solid, centered relevé and a solid single pirouette, perhaps the missing elements are the use of the head and back muscles. Understanding the motivating movements are important. The rotation of a turn is created by the upper torso, not the arms. If you start with the back muscles, the arms will come. Try standing still, arms in second, and turn around the corner (walking). If you are turning en dehor to the right the left arm should come around to meet the right arm without any force from the arm.  Just the use of the left side of the back muscles moving to the right should bring the left arm to meet the right one. Then try a quarter or half turn, initiating the movement from the back muscles. 

Then there is the head element to add. You want to see where you are going in order to know where to finish. Usually spotting is taught by "leaving the head and then turning it quickly". Try not leaving it. Just turn it as you begin the turn. I have had much better results using this method for pirouettes. 

As for the hopping, I don't like that.  It is a lack of confidence in being at the top of your relevé, liking it up there, and continuing to lift up throughout the turn, especially at the end, in order to finish under control.    

Let me know how these things work for you. :)

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Hi Tari, your description sounds exactly like where I'm at.  I've been working on doubles and feel reasonably close some of the time but haven't quite managed it (I can do 1.5 turns most of the time).  Like you, I get stuck and end up hopping.  Sometimes I even feel totally on my leg and hold the position but I just stop turning.  Most of the time, my balance isn't quite there yet.

I'll try Victoria's suggestions and see if they help.

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Thank you so much, Ms. Leigh! I will try all your suggestions and let you know how they help.

Meanwhile, I am sure that if other teachers can also contribute to this thread, it can only be beneficial for us turn-challenged adults.

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