Turning is a central component of varying styles of dance. As an instructor, it is important to talk students through the details of a turn, thoroughly explaining the preparation, placement, alignment, and execution. Students must understand the purposing and reasoning behind all of the elements and understand the ways different parts of the body work together to achieve a successful turn sequence.
I have noticed that it is exceptionally important to differentiate the proper placement for various turns, especially in discussing turns executed in parallel position versus turns executed in a turned out position. This applies to the actual turn as well as the turn preparation. Parallel turns should be prepped and executed in parallel position. Turned out turns should be prepped and executed in a turned out position.
Other important elements to discuss re: turning include:
- Arm Placement & Strength
- Principles of Spotting
- Leg Placement
- Using the Plie to Prep the Turn
- Control & Balance
- Strength in Releve
I am always interested in tips that I can share with my students to help them with their turning. The following are great resources to share in the classroom:
The Finis Jhung Ballet Technique Facebook Page offers many wonderful tips and quips for successful turn execution (as well as other great information). Here are a few of my favorites:
- “Pirouette en dehors: NEVER move your supporting shoulder towards your head. ALWAYS turn your head away from your supporting shoulder.” – The Finis Jhung Ballet Technique Facebook Page
- “NEVER pull up or lift yourself up from the plié. ALWAYS push down to come up—as you do with your arms in a push-up on the floor.”- The Finish Jhung Ballet Technique Facebook Page
Turning is an art, and I love it when the skill clicks with my dancers. Of course, proper turning is complimented with training in ballet technique, jazz technique, and flexibility/strength/conditioning training. And, if a student cannot yet successfully execute a particular turn or turn series, he/she should not perform it on stage or in competition. As instructors, it is our responsibility to enlighten students and make sure they are successfully progressing at an appropriate pace in the their training (e.g. a clean single pirouette must happen before a student can skillfully execute a triple pirouette). Students should be polished, confident, and fluid in their turn series. On that note, turn away! 🙂