5 Tips for Improving Your Pirouettes


“When you think of quitting, remember why you started!” – John Di Lemme

Pirouettes are one of the most common movements in ballet.

A pirouette is basically a turn around an axis that you make with your body. In order for your turns to continue, you must keep your body aligned. If you watch a professional ballet dancer closely, you will notice their perfect alignment and positioning in their pirouette combinations. While they make it look effortless, movements in ballet take time and practice to master.

Alberta Ballet School has put together a list of 5 tips to help improve your pirouettes. Be sure to focus on one tip at a time and gradually build as you have mastered each.

    1. Use Your Body, Not Just Your Arms
      It is a common mistake among ballet dancers to use their arms for momentum when doing a pirouette, rather than using their bodies. Try to think of your whole body making the pirouette movement. Focus on the strength of your standing leg and making sure that your retiré leg is in a proper, high position. If you are wondering what you should do with your arms, just keep them relaxed and ready to move into whichever position instructed with ease.
    2. Check the Alignment of your Neck and Chin
      Sometimes a dancer will find that their neck and chin stick out when doing a pirouette. While you may be doing this unintentionally, it is important to make sure that your neck is in a straight line with your spine. With your neck and chin properly aligned, your spotting will be quick and smooth so you can improve your pirouettes.
    3. Strengthen Your Ankles and Legs
      When doing a combination of pirouettes, dancers relieve numerous times which can tire the muscles easily. There are many exercises that you can do to strengthen your ankles and calves like simple flex and point movements with a thera band. To strengthen your leg, try some exercises at the barre that allow you to really extend your standing leg, getting to your highest demi-pointe.
    4. The One Count Rule
      One of the best tips for improving your pirouettes is to get into your retiré position quickly! No matter what position the pirouette is instructed to be in, you should always try to get to it in one count. The sooner you can move into the correct position, the lesser the chance of you being thrown off balance or alignment.
    5. Take A Rest Day
      Make sure you are listening to your body and try not to get caught up in the number of pirouettes you are able to do. If you are having trouble keeping your alignment, or keep falling out after a few turns, this might be a sign to take a break. Take time to reflect on what you could be doing incorrectly (maybe plan to try out one of our tips above) and you will come back better than ever!

Looking for dance academies in Edmonton or dance classes in Calgary? Reach out to Alberta Ballet School at any time for more information on how we can help you along with your ballet or dancing journey!