The five common mistakes of pirouette en dehor…

Pirouettes are fun and also a reward for all the hard work you are already putting in at the barre.  Students always want to do many turns yet forget about the basic skills that have to be mastered first.  You can’t write before you learn the alphabet and you can’t do a pirouette before you excel in having a proper alignment in your positions, your plie, your balance in passe, perfect releve (locked knees and strong, non wobbly ankles), and of course straight hips throughout.  The following are the the most common mistakes of pirouette en dehor:

First, your preparation position is key as many students don’t have a correct 4th position.  The correct 4th position is when you have the toe of the working leg exactly behind the heal of your front leg.  The body weight must be mostly over the front leg (supporting leg).  Lastly, students usually have their shoulders and hips not alined, not squared so the body looks twisted.  Keep this in mind – always align shoulders with hips.

The second mistake is not “enough” plie on the front leg – we do need to bend two legs right before the pirouette, but remember that the weight of the body should be mostly on the front leg.  Due to the lack of elasticity in the achilles tendon and strength in lats (major back muscles that go along the spine) many students sometimes try lowering themselves to the ground by any means, such as sticking their hip out or bending their back or sticking the butt out, but what plie really means is bending the knee towards your big toe as much as you can.

Thirdly (and perhaps most importantly) is when students start to do a pirouette, they just sort of doing a releve, but forget about turning (more on this important topic in following newsletters).  You have to do releve AND a turn in one go, because there is no time for separately going up and then turning.  So when you start turning think of turning your hips and butt, of course with a perfectly aligned torso, having your stomach and back mussels really tight, like one square unit.

Fourth, is the knee of the standing leg is usually not straight enough while you turn.  It has to be locked – no matter how double jointed you are – because when you are going to do it on pointe you will fall every time if your knee is not completely locked.

Fifth is the passé.  Some students lift it too high and it causes the hips to be uneven, which is not good at all.  In the beginning, make sure that your hips are straight by lowering your passé to mid calf and putting it slightly more towards the front of your leg (it will look like  a number four).  Do that for a while and in the meantime practice the exercises I will give you to strengthen the muscles for your passé in upcoming newsletters .  After doing those exercises you should be able to lift your passé higher without twisting and lifting your hip.  In my next newsletter I will share those exercises with you guys.

Now, let’s quickly sum this all up

  1. Perfect  4th position
  2. Good plie before pirouette
  3. Releve and turn simultaneously
  4. Locked supporting knee
  5. Straighten your hips

Remember…  repetition is the mother of skill.  So practice, practice practice!  Better yet, and as promised, I’ll give you my personal consultations so throw up a video on youtube and share a link with me and I will give personal feedback.

Live with passion!

~Anastasia

P.S. One of my teachers – Willy Burmann – said that a pirouette is first and foremost: Balance – so practice balancing in your passe. Master this first and then your pirouette will come!

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