November 18, 2010

Space(y) Pirouettes

I have had this dream repeatedly where I keep turning, endlessly and effortlessly, counting 4, then 8, then 16, then..., well then I usually wake up, somewhat disappointed might I add, because reality never lets me defy the laws of physics and ballet. The thing is, I´m pretty much useless at spotting my turns. And spotting, it seems, is the key in succeeding at triple or quadruple or even - yikes - quintuple pirouettes! Case in point, just check out the amazing dancers from Pacific Northwest Ballet taking company class and turning their butts off:

Strangely, I have somehow managed to pirouette for the past 15 years without focusing on any spot. And the truth is, you can do it without - it just doesn´t look neat, and forget about turning multiple spins! This sad fact was finally pointed out to me by my Favorite Ballet Teacher, and only because of her persistence I am slowly learning to snap my head around twice - spot ahead! Nowadays, on a good day, I manage maybe four out of 10 double turns neatly.. but finding my spot three times: impossible! Although the Triple Pirouettes do happen once in a while, that third revolution always seem accidental. Maybe it´s because I never really decide beforehand to turn thrice, and just go into the turn hoping for the best..

Now, I have worked a lot on my pirouettes. I try to learn from all the different corrections our teachers have given to us in class. I´ve read almost every 101/article/blog/thread there is on on improving your turns. Most have been helpful. I know that there have been many glitches in need of repair, and I´ve gotten a lot better. I have learned that beside spotting your turns, a strong core, deep pliĆ© and perfect timing of all elements are what make a great pirouette.

By the way, if you want to do the same, that is look for advice on the internet, this guide by Nichelle of Dance Advantage is one of the best: .

Still, something weird happens when I try to snap my head around more than twice. Suddenly my spot is all over the place. Last night, my substitute ballet teacher kindly told me in my native Finnish that "sun katse on avaruudessa", which roughly translated means that "I´m off and headed into space". Yeah, space.. and spotting.. my final frontier. It was funny, really, because aside from being a total ballet dork, I´m also a bit of scifi-nerd. For me, the best drama truly happens in space. But spacey pirouettes? Not so much.

So, I gotta figure out how to re-write my pirouette base-code. Remove that fail-safe in my brain which prevents my head from staring just straight ahead into space. Put theory into practice. Fail 19 times and succeed the twentieth (the definition of perseverance according to Julie Andrews). Turning multiple pirouettes (as in 4 or even 5) is a sweet dream indeed, right along there with flying spaceships. But unlike dreaming of traveling through Stargates, non-spacey-pirouettes could actually still become reality! And guys, when that happens and I nail my first clean quadruple, the tab´s on me!

Disclaimer: open tab only for first person to witness actual act of turning quadruple, and only applicable at my local pub. In this galaxy.


  1. Thanks, once again, for the mention! It's most appreciated :)

  2. You´re most welcome! I´ve recommended DA to all my dancer friends. Remember your "I Can´t" - post? Totally recognized myself there! Anyway, it helped me put things back into perspective, and understand that "each failure brings you one step closer to success." Really, a lifesaver! :)

    Thanks again!
    - Johanna

  3. Love this! My studio is exclusively for adults and it's lovely to find something that speaks to their unique situation. Thank you.


To That Special Ballet Teacher

To that special ballet teacher, who not only teaches you about technique, but helps build your confidence, nurtures your inner artist, ...