Turning Q & A…Problems Solved!

I have been getting loads of extremely specific requests regarding pirouette and turning technique – so I thought I would do a short-answer blog post and check them all off in one sha-bang!

Note: If you don’t have your turning request/question answered here, know that it is too long for a short answer, and it will get its own individual blog post soon. 🙂

So, without further ado, my turning and pirouette Q & A.


Q: How do I maintain my turnout during pirouettes?

A: It’s all about what you are leading with.  For en dehors pirouettes, think of leading with the back of your working knee.  From there, it’s about which muscles you use to lead with. So, in en dehors, the back of the leg is moving first.  Therefore, you will use muscles in the back of the body…your quadratus femoris.

With this explanation, it’s very possible that you are using the wrong muscle to hold your turnout during pirouettes.  Think of relaxing your working inner thigh and tightening the muscles right under your butt.  Hope this helps! 🙂

Q: I have a problem where I stick my butt out during pirouettes.  I have fine placement during everything else, it’s just when I get to turning.

A: This is a very advanced question, but I’m happy to answer.  Chances are that you are a natural turner – you could spin all day, but the real “turning” concept (like doing just a single rather than a double) gives you trouble.  This is a problem that should be given immediate attention because that skill is very important for when you’re in a corps de ballet.

So, it is easier for you to turn with your butt out.  You are then counterbalancing with your chest by bringing that forward.  So, if you can get your butt underneath you by using your quadratus femoris and transversus abdominis (under the butt and abs), you fall forwards because you aren’t moving your chest.

To fix this problem, you have to move both your chest and your hips, not just your hips. Weird, right?  Your butt problem is really a chest problem.  It could originate from either location.  Some images to help with this:

  • There is a metal rod going right through the top of your head and grinding down into the floor.
  • Somebody is pulling a string up on top of your head and it is pulling everything in one line and you are very long.
  • Fill the negative space above your head.

Try out all of these images, and find which one works best for you.  Hope this helps. 🙂

Q: It feels very unnatural when I spot, and my teachers tell me that I’m not spotting, but I’m trying really hard.  Tips?

I’m guessing you are the opposite of the quesiton above.  You are an unnatural turner. (Welcome to the club.)   Because spotting isn’t so easy for you, you are “muscling it” and forcing yourself to do it.

All of this engaging of your neck muscles is not allowing your head to actually move and spot, so it looks like you aren’t, even if you’re trying.

The key to this is to relax your neck muscles and face muscles when you’re turning.  It is the same thing if you have a habit of tilting your head when you’re spotting – you just need to relax it.

Now I recall that just “relaxing” is virtually impossible on command, especially when you’re turning.  So, here are a few images to help.

  • Your neck muscles are dripping down like liquid (gross…I know…but it works).
  • Your neck tension is spiraling down into your abs, turnout muscles, and lower back.
  • There is a steel, hard rod in the middle of your body, and the rest of your body is just resting around it as the rod spins.

Sorry for the kind of short blog post, I promise Monday’s will be longer.  See you later 🙂

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