Pirouettes En Dedans

Hi everyone!  Today’s post is about improving your en dedans pirouettes, which, in my opinion, is one of the most hated steps in ballet.  I’ve also included a video for you – which you’re lucky to get during tech week….so, here we go:

Watch the video:

The basics

En dedans pirouettes are different from en dehors because they turn towards the supporting leg.  For this reason, some people call them “inside pirouettes,” meaning they turn inside, which is the literal meaning of “en dedans.”

This aspect of the step makes it very difficult to maintain the turnout in both legs, but especially your supporting leg.  It also makes it difficult to get an adequate amount of force for the turn, so lots of people end up compensating, which creates incorrect problems and throws you off your balance.  So, there’s lots of things to think about with these turns.

En dedans pirouettes can be completed in attitude derrière and devant, arabesque, and alisicon.  But, for the sake of the simplicity and length of the blog post and video, we’ll just be talking about the turn in retiré.


The muscles

I talked about this briefly during my pirouettes blog post, but here are some special muscles you’re going to want to focus on during pirouettes en dedans:

On a deeper level

A lot of people get corrections with pirouettes en dedans that stay on surface level.  These corrections are helpful, but they need to be enhanced with imagery or anatomical references.  Below, under each correction that is surface-level, is a further explanation.

Maintain your turnout.

Let’s talk about the supporting leg first.  Because you’re moving towards it, you need to use your adductors, or inner thighs, to complete the movement.  These will help you maintian that turnout better because of the direction of movement.

Anatomical references don’t work as well in the working leg, so I prefer to use imagery.  If you think of your working side waist leading you around and your working knee staying back, the opposition will create turnout.  I talk about this more in depth in my video, so you should check that out it you want to see it explained better.

Don’t step out of it or come down early.

There are two factors that could be major contributors to this problem:

  • A faulty preparation
  • A downward spiral

Let’s go in chronological order.

In your preparation, you need to be forward and over the ball of your supporting foot, with a deep plié.  This helps you not have as far to go to get on your leg for the turn.  This transfer of weight can throw you off your balance even more.  A simple test is to, in your preparation, briefly lift your back leg off the floor to test your balance.

Next, in your pirouette, you need to think of spiraling upwards.  In en dehors pirouettes, I prefer to stay relaxed and feel grounded, but with en dedans, an upward spiral is necessary to get the most out of the force that you have.

Don’t tilt to the side.

Tilting can make or break your turns – and this is why teachers tell you this correction so much.  The factor that will contribute to your tilting is a lifting of the working hip.  This comes from an unnecessary engagement of your working hip flexor and quad.  If you use your hamstring rather than these muscles to lift your working femur, this tilting can be prevented.

My imagery for this concept is to think of pressing down the working hip and lifting up the working knee.  The unassociated area of the femur in this image helps you feel grounded.

A turning checklist

Finally, let’s go through each step of the en dedans pirouette and make sure it’s being completed correctly…

  • Preparation
    • Over the ball of your supporting leg?
    • Can you lift the back leg off the floor?
    • Deep plié?
  • Transition
    • Lifting through the hamstring, not the quads and hip flexors?
    • Not tilting?
    • Doing it quickly?
  • Turn
    • Are you spotting?
    • Are you leading with the working inner thigh?
    • Leading with the working side and leaving that knee behind?
    • Spiraling upwards?
  • Finish
    • Did you finish up, not down?
    • Did you lift your passé higher at the end?

Thanks for reading, and I hope this helped you get better with your en dedans turns.

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