By Mignon Furman
In traveling to many cities on my audition tour, I have become more aware than ever of many young dancers’ inability to turn well. Look for more tips on improving this aspect of technique next month.
The first thing dancers must understand is that to turn, one must be able to balance. Therefore at the end of barre exercises, teachers should introduce the concept of balance through the understanding of weight placement. Have the children practice rising onto demi-pointe with all toes evenly placed on the floor, hips over fully stretched knees, shoulders over hips, and the weight forward over the balls of the feet.
Practicing the use of the head and eyes in spotting is important. Have students shuffle around quickly, keeping the feet together with legs parallel, or skip around. Introducing turning steps at a fairly young age helps students grasp the feeling of turning. Changement, soubresaut, and échappé are a few steps that can be turned; young children can accomplish quarter- and half-turns.