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Enhance Movement
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Perfecting Your Pirouettes

Isabella McGuire Mayes • 17 Apr 2024

Perfecting Your Pirouettes

Let’s ditch the “effortless spin” myth. You are an experienced enough dancer to know pirouettes demand strength, precision, and focus! Even with honed technique, those multiple rotations can be elusive. Forget quick fixes. It’s about refining alignment, maximising spotting, and building power for those explosive entries. Ready to take your pirouettes to the next level? Here are some tips from Isabella McGuire Mayes, founder of Ballet With Isabella, where we do one on one classes, workshops and more. You can also join our online class focussed on pirouettes for intermediate dancers!

Building the Foundation: Strength and Alignment

A strong core and impeccable turnout are the pillars of a pirouette. Regularly incorporate core exercises like planks, bridges, and side planks into your routine. For turnout, focus on exercises that open your hips while strengthening the external rotators. Think pliés in dégagé with a relevé, and turnout drills at the barre.

Alignment is key. Imagine a strong line running from your crown through your spine and down your supporting leg. Maintain a lifted chest and a neutral head position throughout the turn.

Spotting: Your Secret Weapon

Spotting is an essential technique that helps you maintain balance and control during pirouettes. Pick a fixed point on the wall, quickly turn your head to find it mid-turn, and then whip it back to face forward as you complete the rotation. Practice spotting drills separately to refine the speed and precision of your head movements.

Taking Flight: Exercises for Powerful Pirouettes

1. Développé à la seconde: This exercise strengthens your supporting leg and improves your sense of balance. Stand at the barre in a parallel position. Slowly extend one leg to the side à la seconde, keeping your hips square and your core engaged. Hold for a beat, then return to parallel. Repeat on both sides.

2. Relevés: Rise onto the balls of your feet in retiré front and retiré back. Focus on pressing through the balls of your feet and maintaining a strong demi-plié in your supporting leg. Aim for slow, controlled relevés to build strength and stability.

3. Port de bras: Practice port de bras exercises while focusing on spotting. This helps you coordinate your upper body with the turn and maintain a strong core connection.

Mastering the Art with Isabella McGuire

Ready to take your pirouettes to the next level? Train with renowned ballerina Isabella McGuire Mayes, who honed her craft at the prestigious Vaganova Ballet Academy.

Isabella’s Ballet with Isabella (BWI) offers an intermediate Vaganova class specifically designed to elevate your pirouette technique. You’ll work on balance exercises specifically tailored to turns, progressing to the awe-inspiring fouetté.

Insider Tips from Isabella

  • Don’t rush. Focus on clean technique and slow, controlled turns before attempting faster rotations.
  • Engage your core. A strong core provides stability and power for initiating and maintaining the turn.
  • Practice both sides. Don’t neglect your weaker side. Consistent practice will help even out your pirouettes.
  • Visualise success. Picture yourself executing a perfect pirouette. Visualisation can enhance your proprioception and improve your performance.

With dedication, the right exercises, and the guidance of an experienced teacher like Isabella McGuire, you can transform your pirouettes to breathtaking artistry. We do offer a free trial – and don’t forget to take advantage of the special offer of 15% off your first corps or soloist monthly membership at BWI when you sign up for our mailing list!

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