As dancers we’ve heard over and over that there are jumpers and turners…and every one of us knows which one we are. But what if I told you I could teach you how to do a pirouette better than you’re doing them now–no matter which category you fall into?
If you’re needing the absolute basics of pirouettes, check out this article on Masterclass for a proper “how-to” breakdown. But remember, learning how to do a pirouette is one thing. Learning how to do a pirouette perfectly every time is another.
In order to have a successful pirouette, you need a stable base for your preparation, a stable core, and a controlled landing. Lucky for you, Dancers Who Lift is here with seven exercises for pirouettes that will leave people asking,
“Where’d you learn how to do a pirouette like THAT!”
So whether you’re learning how to do a pirouette for the first time, or fine-tuning your pirouette technique, let’s dive in.
Let’s start by stabilizing the core.
The Hollow Hold:
This exercise engages your deep abdominals and stabilizes your spine. Start by laying on your back with your knees bent. Next brace your abdominals by ensuring your entire spine is maintaining contact with the floor by firmly exhaling out into the front, back, and both sides of your body. Take a few breaths here to make sure you can maintain that abdominal engagement. Next, without letting go of your core, lift your knees so your shins are parallel to the floor. Slowly extend your legs out to the hollow hold position while reaching your arms behind you (biceps parallel to your ears!) Inhale and exhale here for 5-10 breaths. To rest, bend your knees and hug them into your chest. Shoot legs and arms back out to repeat for three sets.
Hollow Hold with Knee Flexion:
Once you have the swing of the hollow hold, add knee flexion to build stability in the obliques! This will especially help you if you tend to lift your hip in your passé. To do this variation, loop a resistance band around your feet before getting into the hollow hold position. While maintaining your hollow hold, slowly and with control bend one of your knees until it hits ninety degrees. Then push out without letting go of your core. Repeat for 8-10 reps for three sets. Repeat on the other side.
Check out this video for form specifications!
Looking for more core stability exercises? Give this three-minute read a glance.
Kneeling Pallof Press:
This stability routine can be done with a band or a cable machine! First, set up your band (or cable) so that it is even with the base of your armpit when kneeling. Next, set yourself up so you are kneeling with your knees side by side. Lengthen your spine, brace your core and engage your glutes. Holding the band, extend your arms straight forward, then slowly pull the cable back toward your belly button. Make sure as you press that the band maintains tension throughout the entire exercise. As your repeat this for 8-10 reps, resist and tipping, leaning or sinking into one side or the other. Repeat for three sets.
Tired of falling out of your turns due to lagging arms? Stay down in that kneeling setup for this next one! Holding the band, extend your arms in front of your belly button. Now, ensuring that your hips and obliques remain stable, twist your obliques. Repeat this for 8-10 reps, three sets. TIP: Make sure you keep your lats engaged so your shoulders don’t creep up!
Every dance teacher out there has said “Your pirouette starts with your prep!” Nobody likes wobbly pirouette preps so how do we get perfectly stable pirouette preparations? Reverse Lunges. Begin with your feet hip-width apart, then step back into a deep parallel lunge. Brace your core and elongate your spine as you lunge. The most important cue to remember here is that your feet should be on train tracks NOT a tightrope. This will keep your hips square and give you a perfectly stable base to push up from. Repeat this on each side for three sets of 8-12 reps.
Reverse Lunge with Drive to Passé
Once your reverse lunges are free from wobbles try adding on a passé drive as you return to standing. So, step back into your lunge. Then, as you come to standing, drive through your front foot and bring your back foot up to passé; hold for one count. Repeat this for 8-12 reps, three sets.
Unsure about the form? Give this short video a watch!
Single Leg Multi-Planar Reach
If there is one exercise I could do daily to keep my supporting leg stable it would be this. These airplane taps will not only help stabilize your supporting leg in your turns, but they will improve your stability in tilts, developés, and battements too. To set up this exercise, place yoga blocks (or a stack of books) in front of you and on either side of you. Then stand with your hands on your hips and bring one of your feet to parallel coupé. Next, hinge from your hips as you extend your coupé foot backward into a “T” shape and tap the block in front of you. Try to keep those hips square and spine stable! Return to the starting position. Then, repeat for the blocks on either side of you. This is one rep! Repeat this for a total of 5-8 reps, three sets, then switch sides. Click here if you’d like a visual reference.
So, which one of these exercises are you trying first? I challenge you to pick two of them and add them into your training this week. And if they make a difference, let us know! It’s amazing how much strength training can affect our pirouette technique. If you want to learn more about exactly how strength training can transform your dancing, check out this blog, Should Dancers Lift Weights. I think you’ll be amazed at what you find.
Still looking for more exercises to perfect your pirouettes? Try our Free 5-Day Turn Course! It’s sure to whip your turns into shape!
Can’t get enough? Here are a few links you might find helpful!