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RETURN TO BLOG Posted 30 September 2020

How To Master Pirouettes En Dehor

By Claudia Dean

Dancers, how incredible is the sensation of being so perfectly ‘on balance,’ that you feel like you could pirouette forever? The secret to achieving this feeling and mastering your pirouettes is by having a strong preparation that you can rely on. Having the correct preparation will set you up to be ‘on balance’ so you can start turning your ‘lucky’ multiple pirouettes into something that you consistently master every time!

All dancers at any stage of their dance journey can improve their pirouettes. Being one of the most technical steps in ballet, preparation, strength, coordination and rhythm are the key factors that set you up for successful turns. As long as you are in control of how many turns you are taking off for, your preparation position is correct, your lat muscles, core muscles and deep rotators are engaged- you will nail multiple pirouettes, whether you’re in an exam, competition, or a general class!

We’re going to apply the ‘1,2,3,4,5 En Dehors Rule’ Key Exercise so that you can learn how to correctly prepare your feet, which muscles to engage as you releve and how to hold your body to gain force to master a pirouette. Every count in this Key Exercise will set you up for consistent turns. Dancers, let’s learn this Key Exercise together:

1).  First of all, let’s make sure we are placed in an optimal position to prepare for our pirouettes: 

  • Ensure that your preparation in fourth is crossed. Place your fourth so your feet are 1.5x your foot length apart from each other.

  • Ensure your pelvis is neutral and evenly placed between your feet. Try doing a little bounce test to check your placement.

  • Imagine creating a rectangle with your torso, stacking your shoulders evenly over your hip bones. This will help you remain square during your pirouette.


2). Now let’s push off from our maximum demi plie, maintaining our perfect placement.

  • Deepen your demi-plié, thinking of elongating the back of your calf.

  • Keep your heels connected to the ground in order to maintain your balance, and make sure your weight is in between both feet.


3). We’ve set up the lower half of our body, so let’s take a closer look at how we can use our torso and arms to assist in our turns:

  • Ensure your first position is placed in line with your chest bone, keeping your elbows lifted.

  • You want to collect your side arm into first position as quickly as possible, resisting the movement of the arm that is already in first position.

  • Think of pushing your elbow in when you carry your arm into first.

  • Let’s add in the legs: lower into your maximum plié and spring straight into your retiré position. Shift all your weight onto your supporting leg to achieve an impeccable balance!

  • The trickiest bit is coordinating all movements to happen at the same time: If you alter any part of your body while you’re turning, another area will have to compensate, throwing you off. It takes some practice to create a clean position as you relevé, so don’t be afraid of attempting your pirouettes many times, to find the position that will help you turn. 


4). Once all body parts work together, you’ll master the upright, straight and aero-dynamic position that works best for your individual body. Rolling down on your supporting leg will set you up for a clean finish.


5). Finally, the most important part of your turn: End your turn with purpose, to present a pirouette that is clean and precise.


Finding the perfect position for your pirouette takes some trial and error. You may find it helpful to film yourself turning, in order to see what moments need improvement and what sections you’ve already mastered, so you can work towards presenting the best version of your en dehors pirouettes!

So all sections of your body can work together in synergy to help you strive towards stellar pirouettes, give these key exercises a try before you head into your pirouette practice:

  • “POWER RING PRESSES” will help you improve your lat muscle strength. A strong and supported back will assist your weight placement and balance!

  • Slipping your front heel in the preparation of the pirouette is a habit that creeps in on many dancers. “FRONT HEEL STRENGTHENER”  will teach you how to keep your heel glued to the ground, helping you control the effect it has on your balance.

  • A turned-out and lifted retiré gives every pirouette a refined aesthetic. “TURNOUT ISOLATION WITH POWERBAND” will assist you in leading your pirouette with your working leg.

  • “PREPARATION STRENGTH” is a great key exercise to strengthen the lower half of your leg, so you can push off the ground with maximum power!

Every phenomenal pirouette begins in a clean preparation. Once you have mastered the position that is optimal for your body and proportions, the sky will be the limit to how many pirouettes you can aim for! 

This week we are holding a pirouette challenge, so it’s time to show me your pirouette progress. I want to encourage you to film your practice every day, so you can look back on how far you have come & we can all celebrate our pirouette progress together.

Consistency is always key!