In many dance styles, pirouettes are considered one of the main ways to gauge a dancer’s talent. You can be great at leaps or have good musicality, but if you can only complete a double pirouette, or a sloppy triple, your dance will be viewed as mediocre, at best. Clean pirouettes are essential to doing well in auditions, whether you are trying out for dance team or trying to land a job. With practice, anybody can improve their turns, so here are a few ideas to get you started.
Work on your Core
The number one way a dancer can improve their turns ten-fold is by developing strong core stability. There is a reason that the dancers who can do six pirouettes also have six pack abs. Developing a strong center does not mean doing a ton of crunches though. Instead, consider investing in a Pilates class or at least a Pilates DVD. There, you can learn exercises and stretches that will engage your entire core, not just the surface muscles used in crunches. There are also many yoga exercises that can help you build a strong core. These include the plank, wheelbarrow and cobra.
If your studio or school offers ballet technique, don’t blow it off! Barre exercises can help not only turns, but also build flexibility and strength that are necessary for many dance steps. Often, ballet teachers will end a barre exercise with a balance in passé or another position. Use this as an opportunity to work on improving placement-it’s amazing how holding your head or arms incorrectly can throw off your balance in a passé! If you can hold a balance without wobbling, you will be much more likely to hold that position while turning.
He difference between spinning and turning is having a strong spot. Most dancers know that they need to spot, or will end up getting dizzy and falling. But many fail to develop a strong enough spot which leads to either falling out of turns or hopping, both of which look bad. To spot, you simply must focus on an object directly in front of you, and whip your head so that your focus remains on that object as much as possible. It is important to keep your focus on the chosen object until the last possible millisecond. Spotting too soon leads to a weak spot, and sloppy turns.
A lot of dancers have sufficient core strength and understand how to spot, but they screw up their turns before they’ve even begun-how? They are not prepping correctly for the turn. Make sure to plie before turning, with most of your weight on the leg that you will be turning on. If you are going to have a turned out passé, then make sure to turn out your prep all the way. And don’t hold your prep too long! You should snap into your turns. Taking forever to hit your releve and passé will make it harder to balance.
Come to Class! Practice Makes Perfect.
The main thing you can to improve your turns is to attend technique classes. A lot of younger dancers at studios blow these off, and as a result, their technique suffers. This is also a huge problem for dancers who switch from studio to high school or college dance teams-many of these teams don’t spend sufficient time improving technique. Consider spending one or two days each week at a local dance studio-many will let you take technique classes, even if you aren’t currently on one of the competition lines. In technique classes, you’ll have the chance to practice many turns, including pirouettes, without the added pressure and distraction of correctly executing choreography. Also, the teacher will have suggestions to help you work on your turns. If you can afford it, I would even suggest investing in privates-this ne on onetime is very valuable, and you can ask your private teacher to give you suggestions to improve your pirouettes. It can also be helpful to practice turns on your own, in an empty studio, gym, or even your bedroom. My dance studio was located in a strip mall, and many of the dancers would go out in the hallway to practice (which on occasion annoyed mall customers). Make sure to practice on both your right and left side-there are so many dancers who can hip out five turns on their right side and barely make a double on the left. Don’t be one of them.