Perfecting Pirouettes: Tips and Exercises for Spinning Success
Pirouettes are an essential part of many dance styles, including ballet, jazz, and contemporary. These turns require balance, control, and precision to execute properly. However, with practice and dedication, anyone can perfect their pirouettes. In this article, we will provide tips, tips and exercises you can do to help you improve your pirouettes and spin your way to success.
- Master the basics
Before attempting any pirouette, it’s crucial to master the basic elements of turning. This includes having a solid understanding of posture, balance, spotting, and foot placement. These elements are the foundation for executing successful turns, and without them, your pirouettes will lack control and precision.
Posture: To execute a pirouette, you must maintain a tall and straight posture. Aiming at keeping your shoulders relaxed and your chest and chin lifted. Engage your core muscles to maintain stability.
Balance: Balance is essential for any turn. The key to balance lies in your strength. Make sure to distribute your weight evenly over your supporting foot. We suggest filming yourself turning to assess if you’re weight is forwards or backwards. You can also start self-correcting by being present when you practice and assessing which direction you fall out of the pirouette.
Spotting: Spotting is a technique used to maintain balance and control during turns. It involves fixing your eyes on a specific spot and then quickly whipping your head around to focus on that spot again as you turn. This technique helps to prevent dizziness and maintain balance. Spotting is an essential part of pirouettes and must be practiced regularly.
Foot placement: Proper foot placement is crucial for executing successful turns. For a pirouette, you will need to start in a plié position with your feet in first or fifth position. Your supporting foot should be turned out, while your working foot should be in passé position (resting just above or below your knee).
- Strengthen your core
Having a strong and stable centre and core is essential for maintaining balance and control during turns. Train Like a Ballerina offers a wide range of core specific training for all levels and ages. Some key core exercises for pirouettes are core roll ups, core activation, planks and Russian twists.
- Improve your turnout
Turnout refers to the external rotation of your legs from your hip sockets. Having good turnout is essential for executing successful turns as it allows you to maintain balance and control. To improve your turnout, try incorporating exercises like clamshells, standing leg lifts, and resistance band exercises into your workout routine.
- Practice your relevés
Relevés are an excellent exercise for improving balance and control during turns. To perform a relevé, stand with your feet in first or fifth position. Slowly rise up onto the balls of your feet while maintaining a tall and straight posture. Hold the relevé for a few seconds before slowly lowering back down to the ground. Repeat this exercise several times to improve your balance and control.
- Use a barre for support
If you’re struggling to maintain balance and control during pirouettes, try using a barre for support. Holding onto a barre can help you to maintain proper posture and balance as you practice your turns. Once you feel more confident, you can gradually start to wean yourself off the barre and work on executing turns without support.
- Start with quarter turns
If you’re new to pirouettes, it’s a good idea to start with quarter turns before progressing to half or full turns. Starting with smaller turns allows you to focus on maintaining proper posture and balance. Once you feel confident with quarter turns, you can gradually start to increase the difficulty by attempting half and full turns.
- Work on your timing
Timing is essential for executing successful turns. Make sure to initiate the turn by pushing off with your supporting leg and lifting your working leg into passé position. As you turn, focus on maintaining a smooth and continuous motion. Your spot should be quick and precise, with your head and your arms must come into place quickly and be held strongly throughout.
In summary, perfecting pirouettes requires a strong foundation in the basics of turning, including posture, balance, spotting, and foot placement. Maintaining a tall and straight posture, distributing weight evenly, spotting a fixed point, and proper foot positioning are crucial elements for successful pirouettes. Strengthening the core through exercises like planks and Russian twists helps maintain balance, while working on turnout enhances control. Relevé’s, performed by rising onto the balls of the feet, aid in improving balance and control. Utilising a barre for support during practice can be beneficial, and gradually transitioning to unsupported turns builds confidence. Starting with quarter turns and progressing to half and full turns allows for gradual skill development. Timing is key, with a smooth and continuous motion emphasised, and the head spotting the desired point. By implementing these tips and exercises, dancers can work towards perfecting their pirouettes and achieving spinning success!
Looking to improve your pirouettes?
Train Like a Ballerina offers goal specific strength and flexibility ballet training for all levels and ages. Try one of our pirouette focused ballet workouts on the TLB app today and start improving your turns instantly.