Dance Teacher Tips

3 Tips for Mastering the Perfect Pirouette

Photo by Bridget Lujan, courtesy of Juneau Dance Theatre
  • Start with a good preparation. Plié in fourth, keeping the hips square and the back knee straight. Arms are in fourth. Texas Ballet Theater School associate director Kathryn Warakomsky encourages students to keep their heels down and use the whole foot on the floor, rather than rolling forward on the arches or letting the front foot slide into the turn first: "You want to go down into the floor and push from the back foot to go up."

  • Don't forget about your arms. "Even though you don't use your arms to turn, they have to be quite strong, not too high and in front of the body," says Steps on Broadway teacher Nancy Bielski. To help dancers feel their arms in a pirouette, Laura Alonso of Centro Pro Danza in Cuba suggests holding a full water bottle in the following (or second) hand and switching it to the other hand mid-turn.
  • Spot! Spotting keeps a dancer from becoming dizzy during pirouettes, and it also gives turns a certain aesthetic sharpness. Dancers use spotting as a way to balance themselves and keep track of where the body is in space. Jorge Esquivel, former principal dancer with the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, tells dancers to choose a focal point that keeps the eyes high, so that the neck is lengthened and straight.
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