Tips to Perfecting Pirouettes!
This blog is specific to perfecting a PARALLEL jazz pirouette. Which is different from a classical turned out ballet pirouette. These are great reminders for dancers, but having a teacher watch and give the student feedback is necessary to ensuring proper technique. Here are our most important tips!
A good preparation!
You won't be successful in your turn if you are "unprepared". Take a deep plié with both knees bent in parallel fourth position. The front foot is flat and back heel should be energized and forced forward. The arms are ready and shoulders pressing down. The core should be engaged and there should be good posture without leaning forward. A lazy preparation = a lazy pirouette.
High and strong retire'.
During the pirouette your leg should shoot to a high retire' sharp and quick! Many dancers are too slow getting their foot up to retire. And often the leg is too low! The thigh should be flat like a table so you could place my coffee cup on it! The supporting leg has to be as straight as a pencil! A plate spinner would have a hard time keeping his plate from falling if there was a bend in the stick!
Spotting is key!
Keeping your chin level, spotting is the process of keeping your eye on one spot and flipping your head quickly when turning. Without a quick spot you will get dizzy in multiple turns. You can practice this by slowly spinning in an office chair and flipping your head around.
Energy in opposition:
While the ball of the foot is pushing DOWN against the floor, the retire' 'is pulling UP! While the arms are in a strong first position pushing DOWN, the head is pulling UP toward the ceiling! This constant opposition is what allows you to turn multiples without falling over! Think of this: an inflated basketball spins well. A deflated basketball does not spin well.
The key to pirouettes is strength in our ankles, legs and core!
The ankle supports you as you turn. Your leg muscles push you from the plie to retire' and keep you from falling over. Your core (the abdominal muscles that wrap all the way around your back to your front) keeps you stabilized, and allows you to balance on the ball of your foot as you turn.
So how do you gain strength? Get to class! From plies at ballet barre, to jumps in the center, to doing abdominal exercises - they all add to your strength! Also… PRACTICE! Practice holding your strong pirouette position without turning. You want to be as still as possible, no hopping or wiggling.
Obtaining multiple turns takes time and focus. Be mindful when you are practicing that you are holding a strong position as we have discussed above rather than just trying to spin as fast as you can. A pirouette is balance that rotates. Any balance requires strength and coordination, which takes a lot of effort, focus, and energy. A gymnast would fall off a balance beam if they didn't maintain an energized and strong body. The same goes for a a pirouettes. Remember it is QUALITY over QUANTITY! One beautiful pirouette is better than a messy triple.
Have fun practicing!