Tuesday, November 2, 2010

perfecting pirouettes

pirouette...for me this seemed like the easiest step in the entire world.  some people are jumpers, some love adagio, but me, i love pirouettes.  although turning seems somewhat simple, pirouettes are not just a bunch of spins with velocity behind it, they're actually quite tricky, so heres some tips to help make your pirouette fantastic every time!

1.  proper preparation is key:  make sure your fourth isn't too big or too small, and that your weight is equally distributed between your legs, keeping you well centered.  i know so many girls who think they need to be over their front leg at all times, but i promise you that if you take off from two feet equally, you'll have a much more stable, successful turn.

2.  what goes up, must come down:  one of the mistakes i used to always make was thinking that to pirouette correctly, the focus had to be on the rise.  i would jump onto my foot, completely forgetting the most important part of the turn, the plie.  plie is so essential to getting the force you need to do amazing triple pirouettes (it is possible, i promise), but if you go straight from a rigid fourth to your releve, you're never going to make it.  if i could only give you one tip for pirouettes it would be to deepen your plie right as your about to take off.  not only that, but as you're turning, focus on sending energy down through your leg, as well as up through the top of the head.  focusing on the standing leg once again helps with your stability and strength in the turn, while lengthening through the top of the head helps you concentrate on your posture, keeping everything perfectly balanced throughout the rotations.

3.  abs, abs abs:  for me, every dance move in some way or another originates from the center of the torso.  focusing on contracting your abs, keeping your core strong throughout the motion, is key in a flawless turn.  it also helps you gather up all the energy of the turn quickly and efficiently, creating a compact turning machine!
***when you're practicing passe at the barre, be sure to think about your abs as well.  one of my teachers once told me to try to focus on the opposing rotation of the abs and the passe knee, pushing the knee away from the abs and vice versa.  this has really helped me understand the relationship between my passe and my core to help keep me on balance.

4.  no man left behind:  the moment you come out of your plie preparation, make sure everything assembles in the air simultaneously.  if something like your head or arms are left behind, it will slow your turn down and will keep you from turning at your best.

5.  relax:  keep your head and neck as loose as possible, while still maintaining good ballet posture.  its important that they be able to move and spot freely in the turn.  also, make sure your shoulders are relaxed and tense or raised.  

6.  back to basics:  when all else fails and you just can't seem to get that turn down, slow down and take your pirouette back to basics.  try doing a single turn; make mental notes of what direction you're falling in, what feels weird or weak, see what is right and what is wrong.  remember that proper technique builds strength and that is what is going to give you the type of turns that make everyone envious.  do ankle strengthening exercises, like multiple releves at the barre or ankle rolls.  practice doing single consecutive turns from fifth position; focus on a clean take-off and landing, and take notice of what your core is doing during the turn.

and all in all, remember that quality really does out rank quantity.  i think its important to remember that one perfect turn (with that gorgeous moment of suspense at the end before you come down to a perfect fifth, yeah you know what i'm talking about!) is so much more beautiful that five okay turns with a sloppy ending.  i guarantee you that at an audition, the girl with the perfect double will get picked over the girl with the mediocre quadruple any day!

practice these tips and you'll be a pirouette master in no time!  

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