How to Improve Your Turns

Us dancers have a few elements we struggle with in general. Obviously, everybody is different, but it is safe to say that turns are somewhat of a common evil, especially when first starting out.

There are numerous types of turns, some of them typically used in certain form of dance, others more universal. I will not go through every single turn there is, first because this post would be 125 pages long and second because I don’t know all the turns that exist. What you can find here are some tips I find work well no matter what type of turn and dance discipline you are practicing. Give it a go and hopefully it will make turns just that little bit easier:

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  1. Starting position

Make sure your starting position is as clean and neat as possible. Foot positions, knee extension and hip/shoulder orientation is extremely important when starting a turn. For example, if it is a pirouette turn you are attempting, make sure both feet are turned out properly, shoulders and hips square to each other and arms kept in front of you.

  1. During a turn

Whatever the turn, engaging your transverse abdominis and psoas iliacus will help stabilise your core, giving you better balance and consistency. The feeling that helps me is keeping my chest high and standing foot pushing into the floor; that gives me the best outcome as I feel more stable.

Throughout the turn, keep spotting! For those who don’t know what spotting is, it is keeping your eyes focused on a fixed point before the turn and finding the same spot every time your body is orientated towards the same direction. This prevents travelling turns from going off the desired trajectory and makes stationary turns more secure. A tip for beginners! It helps with dizziness when approaching turns for the first time 😉

Arm positions are numerous and optional but do make sure you know exactly where your arms are supposed to be…whether it is choreographer’s or your personal choice, a clear understanding of arm positions is what helps greatly with keeping turns smooth.

  1. Finishing the turn

End position is almost more important than the starting one. Auditioning for a company or attending a competition? This is what judges will be looking at. No matter what happens during a turn, your ability to land in a desired position and save a turn even if everything has gone bananas during the execution is what counts during a performance. Again, there are hundreds of ways to conclude a turn, but again make sure you are perfectly aware of where all of your body parts should be.

Here are some my turns at 3.27 – 3.34

General tips

  1. Do not worry so much about the number of turns you are able to execute; doing a double pirouette perfectly is more appreciated than doing three turns and landing in an uncoordinated heap. Take it one step at a time, master a lower number of turns and then move to the next stage.
  2. Turns are easier for some people…that’s just the way it is. At the beginning. But the more you try, the better you get and even though it sometimes seems like you are making no progress at all, don’t give up. I know those moments of frustration very well, but they will pass and you will be able to land that Fouette! I promise 🙂

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Fouette turn