How can I Improve my Pirouettes?

Hey Lisa,

I started ballet when I was 4 years old. I'm now 17.  I still can't do a double pirouette and I feel really lousy about it. I'm also in the Elementary grade. 

Many girls, who are younger than me, are in Advanced classes or a higher grade than I am. Why is it so? I've also tried my best during ballet, but I don't seem to be the BEST of them all, like doing a pirouette, lifting my leg as high during developpé e.t.c. How can I improve my pirouettes and adage?

God Bless You!


Deb (Singapore)

Hi Deb,

Thank you so much for your letter and I understand that this is a very frustrating position to be in. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, things just do not seem to change and this can become extremely frustrating.

However, do not despair. Often performing a fantastic pirouette is actually not a lot to do with the legs but is actually more to do with your core stability.

If you are not very strong through your center you will not have a strong base to work from when dancing and you find some steps that others find easy, much harder.

When working on doing a double pirouette, instead of trying to do the turn faster or use more force, the best thing is to actually drop back a little. Try preparing as per usual and relevé to the pirouette position (retire) WITHOUT TURNING so that you are still facing the front. Hold this position for the length of time it would take you to do a double pirouette and then land carefully and correctly.

After repeating this several times, focusing on staying strong in your centre, you will notice which way you tend to lose your balance and can correct it as necessary. If you cannot balance in a retire there is no way that you will be able to hold a good strong position while you turn.


Another point to note when performing pirouettes with the leg in a retire position is to make sure that the lifted leg is well turned out with the foot nicely against the supporting leg. Often people tend to forget that working with correct placement actually makes your dancing so much easier! Learning to control the working leg correctly will help you pirouette tremendously!

To really focus on activating your deep abdominals try to get the feeling that you are trying not to go to the bathroom, and at the same time hollow out the lowest part of your tummy (between your hip bones) without tucking your tail under. If you can hold this in gently during class, and during your normal day, your core stability will improve enormously!

This is a little hard to teach in text, but I am sure you will get the idea!

Make sure you keep your questions coming in, as while I may not get back to you straight away, I do read them, and will answer as many as I can in these emails!!

Take care, talk soon!


Core Resources

If you are looking to delve deeper into this topic, check out the following programs:

  • A New Approach to Core Stability: This program approaches Core Stability training in a completely new way. Using a simple visual chart comprising of 5 different positions (Lying, Side Lying, 4 Point, Sitting and Standing) and 5 different grades, you can work your way through the entire program at your own pace, layering levels of stability to achieve ultimate dynamic control of the spine and pelvis.
  • Level One Dance Teacher and Therapist Training: This unique course covers a multitude of assessment and treatment techniques to individualise a dancer's training. With special focuses on Postural Control, Core Stability, Flexibility, Basic Classical Technique, The Dancers Hip, Allegro, Spinal Mobility and Arabesques, it is suitable for anyone working closely with dancers.