In our May issue, we asked teachers for their advice on mastering the pirouette, in Balanchine, Royal Academy of Dance and Cuban styles. Here, they discuss when it's best to introduce pirouettes.
“It’s important to start teaching pirouettes early,” says Gloria Govrin, artistic director of Eastern Connecticut Ballet, “when students don’t think that much and scare themselves.”
- Laura Alonso, grand maître of Ballet Pro Danza in Cuba, has very young students roll on the floor, like barrels, to get the feeling for turns.
- At Texas Ballet Theater, students ages 6 to 7 start with paddle turns or hop around in sixth position with hands on hips. “We want them to have fun with turns,” says Fort Worth School principal Kathryn Warakomsky.
- “I start them with quarter and half turns in sur le coup de pied, so the foot doesn’t sickle and the knee leads around,” says Govrin. Facing the barre, students tendu to fourth position, pirouette and catch the barre. —Julie Diana
Photo by Bridget Lujan, courtesy of Juneau Dance Theatre