15 Ways to Improve Your Pirouette

Photo Credit: Antonio Arcos | Getty Images

Photo Credit: Antonio Arcos | Getty Images

Turns are a must-have in any dancer’s repertoire of skills, and one of the many types of turns you’ll perform is the pirouette.

A pirouette is a complete turn of the body on one foot—either on pointe or demi-pointe—and can be performed en dedans (turning inward toward your supporting leg) or en dehors (turning outward in the direction of the raised leg).

Whether you’re a beginner or an intermediate dancer looking to improve your turns, here are 15 tips that’ll help you master single, double and even triple pirouettes:

  1. Engage your core to help maintain good alignment (ribs, spine, pelvis, hips). Not only does your core strength help improve your technique, but it can keep injuries at bay.
  2. Balance is key! Practice balancing in the position in which you want to turn—whether it’s retiré, à la seconde or en arabesque.
  3. Align your ribs over your pelvis and keep this connection throughout the turn. Not only do the ribs stack over the pelvis, but the ribs should knit together and connect closer to the hips bones (this will help you to not fall backwards.)
  4. Don’t twist the torso while turning.
  5. Launch your turn from a well-placed plié—it is incredibly important in the execution of a pirouette.
  6. Practice to find the right amount of push and use only the necessary amount of force.
  7. Withdraw the foot quickly from the floor as you start the turn and bring the foot to a retiré.
  8. Imagine energy in the supporting leg spiraling downward into the floor, while energy from the torso spirals up through the ceiling.
  9. Visualize your knee drawing a circle around you as you turn.
  10. Envision yourself hugging a large beach ball while you turn—this will help activate your back and arm muscles.
  11. Work on your spotting technique—relaxing the head and neck, focusing the eyes and whipping the head with precision.
  12. Breathe, relax and float around in your turn.
  13. Remember that a pirouette is not a spin, but a controlled up and down movement that happens to rotate.
  14. Just before the finish, lift up, activating the core muscles just a little bit more for a graceful landing.
  15. Practice, practice, practice! Repetition and experience are essential to mastering turns.