By David Arce
A common mistake with inside pirouettes is turning in the passé leg during the turn. To correct this, have your students start in a straight-leg lunge preparation. Tell them to think, as they move into the pirouette, that the heel of the working foot connects to the knee of the supporting leg immediately from the lunge. Keeping this concept in mind will help them to achieve a turned-out passé, and also to find their balance right away over the standing leg. Remind students that they shouldn’t be thinking of doing anything with the working knee except keeping it open, both during preparation and in the turn.
The straight leg in the lunge preparation for an inside pirouette harnesses a great deal of the energy and force needed to get a dancer on balance and turning. Yet students often rely too heavily on their upper bodies during the preparation, swinging their arms to acquire momentum.
Remind students that what starts the turn is a strong point of the toes as the back foot peels off the floor. Have students practice this at the barre, and watch to make sure that the act of pointing the working foot is what initiates the weight shift forward into passé relevé. Once they are doing this sequence correctly, practice in the center, first just with preparations into passé relevé, then with pirouettes.
David Arce is artistic director of Juline Regional Youth Ballet and a teacher at Juline School of Dance in Modesto, California. He trained at Ballet Yuma and San Francisco Ballet School and danced 12 seasons with SF Ballet.