6 Exercises for Consistent Pirouettes
Pirouettes are something that can be “hit or miss,” right? At least, that’s what our teachers have always told us and we chalk it up to be a “good” or “bad” turning day.
Is there such thing as a good turning day or a bad turning day? Or does it have more to do with your external environment and body conditioning?
While I can’t control your external environment such as flooring, space, shoes, etc. I CAN help you with strength & conditioning exercises for more consistent turns. In fact, it’s one of my favorite things to help dancers with. So… let’s get into it!
1. Anti-Rotation Press
Take a long resistance band and tie it to a sturdy pole. Stand adjacent to the band and hold the ends. Press out and in with the band while you resist movement in the torso. Training the abdominals is crucial to better pirouettes, but most of us do crunches instead of actual core stability work. Think about it, if you’re doing crunches and strengthening core flexion… when are you doing core flexion in a pirouette? The answer should be never! So train like it. We want to resist any twisting that may happen in the core and this is a good exercise to train that aspect of functional core training. Perform 10-12 reps on each side.
2. Standing Side Leg Lifts
A strong standing leg is what we’re often told to have in our pirouettes, but how do we make it stronger? Most dancers just tighten all their leg muscles more than usual, but what if you could improve that efficiency? Take a small loop band and place it around the thighs (just above your knees.) Standing on one leg as you open and close the other leg to the side. This exercise is primarily for the glutes and hip abductors of the working leg while providing a stability and balance challenge on the standing leg. Perform 10-12 reps on each side.
3. Band Pull Aparts
The upper back plays an important role in your posture and pirouette alignment. Take a long resistance band and hold it horizontally with both hands. Pull the band apart and squeeze the shoulder blades together then slowly return back to the starting position. This exercise teaches the body control of the arms and upper back while emphasizing the rhomboids and trapezius muscles. Perform 10-12 reps.
4. Side Plank Hold
Another core anti-rotation and anti-lateral flexion exercise. In a side plank, you can either choose to go on your elbow or your hand. You can also stack the feet or place them one foot in front of the other. Whatever set up you choose, just be sure to resist any movement in the torso and avoid dropping the hip down toward the floor or opening the hip up toward the ceiling. Anti-lateral flexion means we are resisting any movement of the torso that happens side to side (think like a standing side bend movement). So when you’re in your pirouette position, you can avoid leaning to the right or left with your torso. Hold 20-30 seconds each side.
5. Single Leg Glute Bridge
Just like the hip abductors, the glutes play a vital role in supporting your standing leg AND your core. Strong glutes are beneficial for a variety of other dance skills and everyday life, but for your pirouettes specifically, this will help you get over your standing leg when you push into passé. Lay on your back with both legs bent and feet placed on the ground. Lift one leg up to a tabletop position. Press the hips up toward the ceiling without letting the hips twist or arching the back. Slowly lower back down toward the floor. Perform 10-12 reps on each side.
6. Single Arm Row
This exercise is targeting your LATS! Your latissimus dorsi muscles help you stabilize the shoulders and core. For this exercise, take a long resistance band and wrap it around one foot. Hold the end of the band with the same hand as foot. Start with the arm straight and pull the elbow back as you pull the resistance band, then slowly reach the arm back straight. This exercise can also be done with dumbbells if you are kneeling with one knee on a bench. Place the same hand as knee on the bench so that your torso leans forward. Hold the dumbbell in the opposite hand and pull the elbow back and squeeze the lats. Perform 10-12 reps on each side.
All of these exercises are working various body parts necessary for your consistent pirouettes, but it’s important to note that these are NOT the only exercises or the “best” exercises. That’s totally dependent on your body and your training to figure out which ones are best for YOU!
That being said, these 6 exercises will give you a good start. I’d recommend doing each exercise 1 through 6, rest, then repeat 2-3 sets.
Give it a try and let me know how it goes! You can comment on this post or send me a DM on Instagram.
Lastly, if you’re really wanting to improve your pirouettes this season, I have the perfect plan for you! You can now join my 12-week online training program called, “Give Your Turns A Tune-Up” for only $59 USD per month!
This program gives you 2 workouts per week with minimal equipment. And the workouts are all specific for your turns! It will progress you nicely throughout the 12 weeks and give you some consistency in your cross-training as you practice your turns at the studio or at home.
Click here to learn more and sign up!
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Photo by MART PRODUCTION: https://www.pexels.com/photo/ballerina-turning-while-tiptoeing-8463063/