Introduction: How to Perfect a Pirouette Turn

One of the basic technical elements of the dancer world is a pirouette turn. (For those who may not be familiar with technical terms – you know that thing when a dancer goes around and around in a circle with only one foot on the ground? Yea that!)

Step 1: First Things First

There are a few items that you will need in order to complete this task successfully. 
  • Proper footwear
    • Jazz shoes or Jazz sneakers (pictured below - best fit for beginner dancers)
    • Footies
    • Barefoot (*Over time this will cause the formation of GROSS calluses*)
  • Proper clothing
    • Form fitting clothing works best (Why do you think ballerinas wear leotards?)
    • Avoid baggy clothing (May become distracting during the begging stages)
*Please note that the type of footwear will work best on a hardwood floor.*

Step 2: Location, Location, Location!

Though a pirouette can be conducted on almost any surface, the best place to practice is a hardwood floor or smooth surface. 

Before you attempt to perform the task, make sure you are in an area that is free of objects and people that you could potentially run into. You wouldn't want to accidentally ram into a table *OUCH* or kick Mr. Milo! 

Step 3: Places Everyone. Places!

…Or in our case – placement! The placement of your head, shoulders, and arms, mid section, legs, feet and even toes are all-important in assisting you while completing the pirouette. Each body part plays a part! 

As you prepare yourself to start, you make sure of the following:
  • Your head is steady and you are focusing on an immovable object.
  • Your legs are shoulder-width apart, with both feet parallel to one another. 
  • Your shoulders should be back.
  • Your back is straight. 
  • Your arms should be gently by your sides with your fingertip aimed at the ground.  
Once you are properly in this position, you are read to go!

Step 4: Prepping for the Turn

*Note: Numbers 1-3 listed below are all done in at the same time. 
  1. Keeping your head steady and your right foot where it is, step your left leg in front of you transitioning into a halfway lunge (or a plié).
  2. As you step down with your left into the lunge your right heel should raise slightly.
    • Your left leg is your supporting leg during the turn; it will never leave the ground. 
  3. Meanwhile, your arms should be making a left 90-degree angle.
    • Your right arm to extend straight out in front of you and your left arm will extend up and out to your left stopping at shoulder level. 
    • This motion should be sharp; your arms should be completely straight out though your fingertips and firm.

Step 5: The Turn

This is where you are going to turn! 
  1. The plié or lunge that you have made with your feet and legs will act as a base to “push off.”
    • Push off of your right foot and straight up with your left leg and foot. 
    • As you push off, your right foot will come into a passé (your right foot will come in line with your left knee). 
    • Meanwhile, your left foot pushes into relevé (raising your foot onto its sole) which extends your left leg straight up. 
  2. At the same time, you should move both of your arms so they are curved in front of your body.
    • Your palms should be facing inward towards your chest and your hands should meet at the middle of your body, lining up slightly below shoulder level in line with the top of your ribcage.
  3. As you bring your arms together you should be rotating to the right. 
  4. Your eyes should be focused on a spot on the wall that is found at eye level. 
  5. As your body turns around 360 degrees you want to whip your head around to look back at that spot, which is a technical, called spotting.

Step 6: Ta-Da!

Doing a single pirouette?  
Rotate one time around and jump out of the turn landing in the same position in which you started.
  • Legs shoulder width apart.
  • Arms by your side.
  • Head up with a smile on your face.
Doing a double or triple pirouette?
Continue spotting which each rotation and land in the same position in which you started.
  • Legs shoulder width apart.
  • Arms by your side.
  • Head up with a smile on your face.
Want to see what the final product should look like? View the video seen below!