Dancers often come to me and say "Veronica, I can hold a passé in class for 32 counts but, my pirouettes are terrible! Help!" While you might think that holding passé for a long duration of time may indicate a "good turner," it does not.
Pirouettes are so much more than just holding passé/retiré position. It's a balance between the muscular strength and neuromuscular coordination that produces an effective pirouette.
In simple terms, balance training isn't just holding a one legged position for long durations. This can even be considered muscular endurance training after the passé position is no longer challenging to the dancer. What must be done to improve the dancer's balance is to PROGRESS the balance. Make it harder for that dancer to stay upright. Make their neuromuscular system work harder.
So, if you're new at pirouettes and you need some help breaking the very basics down, I first recommend you go and watch my training video below for some help!
If you're a more advanced dancer looking to progress your balance and seek solutions to your pirouettes keep reading!
Things you might be missing from your pirouette training:
You're not training your dynamic balance enough
Dynamic balance is the ability to balance on surfaces that are not still/static. Our dance floor is non-moving. A foam mat is not. A Bosu ball is not. A dynamic balance disc is not. But, on the flip side, progressing to TOO difficult a surface too quickly will not help a dancer and may result in injury.
This is how I usually do a surface progression with my dancers:
-Static surface (dance floor)
-Dynamic surface 1 (foam mat/yoga mat)
-DS 2 (foam block)
-DS 3 (Bosu/balance disc/balance bubble)
Some of my favorite devices I use for my dancers when we're balance training are listed below!
2. You haven't added additional challenging forces
Other than changing surfaces, some very simple things can be done to make a passé en relevé or flat become more challenging to help you turn better.
Try a few of these quick tips!
Close your eyes and see how long you're able to maintain alignment and balance
Shake your head "yes" and "no" - the faster you shake your head, the harder it is to balance
Move your arms- you can change from first to second position rapidly, first to en haut, or switch arms on high each second you're balancing.
3. You're focusing TOO MUCH on the balance and not on alignment of your body
If you're constantly practicing your balance on repeat but, you have not looked into how your core alignment, upper body alignment, neck alignment, and lower leg alignment...this could be the culprit.
I often encourage dancers to book a private evaluation with me who feel like they are stuck in a rut with turns and do not know what is wrong. If you're interested in getting an evaluation, email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to my waitlist when I return from maternity leave Aug 2023.
4. Sequencing or technique is off with turn
So, you've gone through the entire list and you're doing everything but, have you actually WATCHED your turns? Record yourself turning. Are all components of the turn moving at the appropriate time?
Are your spotting effectively?
Are you getting to passé position in one single count?
Are you winding up your arms or keeping them in your center?
These are all questions that could be contributing to your ballet pirouette errors. Among more!
Closing notes on ballet pirouettes:
Ultimately, the best way to improve ballet pirouettes is by first having someone analyze your technique or watch your recordings. Try to set aside your ego and take notes on yourself from an objective standpoint.
Then, once you have identified your biggest problem areas let's get you started in my step by step turns course on the platform.
This course breaks down ballet pirouettes from the beginning and goes through training for the beginner to advanced dancer.
For 50% off your first month and 1 day free trial, use the code 50FORMONTH and try the monthly unlimited cancel anytime package! Click here to get started today!