header

header

Mar 21, 2011

The Secret to Turning





As you watch the Black Swan Coda and the regal Prince Siegfried enters the stage to begin his sequence of turns you realize that in a matter of seconds the Black Swan will come to perform the legendary sequence of thirty-two fouettes. Butterflies flutter in your own stomach at the thought and you can hardly fathom how the ballerina about to perform the amazing feat must feel. You lean forward in your seat as the audience applauds Prince Siegfried and the Black Swan takes the stage, opening her sequence with a double pirouette and whipping out triples in between every few rotations.


How does she do it, you wonder? Well the secret is ultimately in a science as old as time, physics. 


In order to make a top spin continuously, its proportions must be constructed just so, so its features are capable of maintaining balance and momentum. The situation is no different with a pirouette. In order to maintain your balance your standing side must be perfectly aligned or, like an unbalanced top, you'll fall right over.

What I mean by keeping your "standing side aligned" is that your shoulder, ribs and hip must all come into the proper alignment to maintain a stable position. Here are a few examples of some successful turners:


Although the identity of this phenomenal turner is unknown , this woman is the star in the YouTube video with over two-million views called Super Pirouette. Please watch it below, this is one of the most amazing turning sequences I've ever seen:


In the picture above you can see the vertical and horizontal lines that I have drawn over her body. It illustrates how her shoulders are perfectly even with each other and her hip, ribs and shoulder have all come into alignment. Although very few of us can turn just like her, it's important to know where that "sweet spot" is. The photo of her above would be her "sweet spot" aka: the position where your body is well aligned and you can feel yourself in balance.

 For anyone out there that follows Anaheim Ballet's YouTube channel then you'll probably recognize this girl: Aria Alekzander. She makes performing an octuple pirouette seem as easy as breathing.


Aria has also found her sweet spot and took advantage of it. Her body is perfectly perpendicular while turning and although you can see her slightly falling of her leg in the video, she knows how to pick herself back up in order to get back to her sweet spot. In this video you'll see the same example:
So the secret is all about finding your sweet spot and it's the same situation with men as well. Stand at the barre and go into passe. Shift yourself around until you find that one spot where everything just seems to lock into place. Memorize that position and practice springing up into passe and quickly returning to that specific spot. Now the hard part is getting into that spot every time you turn.

Aside from finding that sweet spot, fouettes also require something else in order to improve them... Practice. Fouettes are one of the most difficult movements in ballet. You've just got to work at them again and again, receiving corrections from a teacher and memorizing the feeling of that sweet spot until you find yourself spinning just like a top. Everyone has a different body so there isn't one universal position that every ballerina strives to find. The sweet spot that balances out all of a person's features will be slightly different. Even if you're standing at the kitchen counter, talking to your parents as they make dinner, go into passe and find that sweet spot, then hold it for as long as you can. Ballet is all about muscle memory so find that sweet spot and don't let it go!
Thanks for reading!

Post your thoughts and questions in a comment below!

Ballerinablogger~

8 comments:

  1. This was a great read and actually really helpful...I'm off to try and find my sweet spot now. Thanks :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you! Great help for all dance students.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks so much for this post! It was really helpful!

    ReplyDelete
  4. O MY GOSH!!!!! This is sooooo amazing! this blog is the first place I have ever read heard this tip and IT IS THE ONLY TIP THAT HAS EVER HELPED MY TURNS!! I love the videos... you can just tell how much thought went into this! Thank you soo much! You are improving my dancing through every post!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wow, that's amazing feedback! So glad that I could help, Julie! Thank you so much for enjoying my posts and using some of my advice. :) It means a lot!

    Ballerinablogger~

    ReplyDelete
  6. The ballerina in the Super Pirouette video is Sofiane Sylve. She freelances as a guest artist with major ballet companies all around the world.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you! I'm DEFINITELY not a natural turner, and turning en pointe is especially difficult for me. I can do a slow, controlled, and nicely placed triple pirouette on flat, but consecutive pirouettes from 5th and double pirouettes are all notoriously difficult for me once I put my pointe shoes on. I think this may have a chance at solving my problem!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello, Ella! I'm so glad you found this helpful. Thank you so much for reading and commenting and please let me know how it goes! :)

      Delete