Pirouettes are one of the fundamental skills in dancing but also one of the trickiest to master. Dancers can often make the mistake on focusing on the rotations rather than on the correct technique – if you nail your technique and form, there’s no stopping you! Read on to learn about some tips that can transform your single turns into flawless, continuous pirouettes…
Your core (or your centre) is so important in ensuring your pirouettes will be executed correctly. Not only that, when your core is turned on, it can improve most aspects of your dancing – win, win!
To make sure my core is engaged, I like to start my pirouette prep with some ab exercises. Put on your favourite song and sit up, crunch, plank for the whole thing. This will allow you to feel when your core is turned on and ensure that your abs maintain the correct alignment when you are turning.
Assume the position
The correct position that is!
- You must hold a steady rise on the ball of your supporting foot (the foot left on the ground), if your ankle wobbles the rest of your body will follow suit
- Your knee of the supporting leg must be straight
- Your leg that locks into retiré (in parallel – we’re talking jazz turns here) should sit high enough that you could balance a pizza box on your leg with your toes tucked into your supporting leg (obviously pointed!)
- When turning, your arms should be in a high first position, hands in line with the centre of your chest and imagine you are squeezing a beach ball. This should turn your arm and back muscles on and help maintain this position while you rotate
Think of this position as building blocks, if you don’t stack the blocks correctly everything will wobble and the building will inevitably fall.
Now that you have the correct position, it’s important to practice your balancing. If you can’t maintain the position while being stationary there’s no way you can keep it when you begin to turn.
Now for the not so secret, secret to pirouettes – SPOTTING!
Spotting is the process of focusing on one spot in your eye line and then proceeding to whip your head around back to that spot while you rotate. Your spotting keeps your turns in time and stops you from getting dizzy.
I like to encourage people to sit on an office chair and practice spotting while the chair spins you around. That way you can get comfortable with the feeling and fine tune the technique before incorporating it into your turns.
Practice makes perfect
We all know the saying – repetition and experience are essential to mastering your pirouettes!