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Published on Sep 26, 2015
This video presents clips pirouette en dehors en pointe by ABT's Gillian Murphy and The Royal Ballet's Alina Cojocaru
A pirouette is a turn on one leg. The preparation for the turn generally starts from fourth position. The dancer rises onto relevé with the working leg in retiré position (toe touching the knee). In an en dehors pirouette, the dancer turns toward the direction of the working leg. For example, a dancer in fourth position with right leg in back would turn in a clockwise direction.
A pirouette on pointe is more difficult than doing turns in ballet flats (slippers) on relevé. The turning surface on pointe is very small relative to turns on relevé and any any imperfection in the turn or lean in one direction will throw the dancer off. It is not uncommon for men, who wear ballet slippers, to do more than three pirouettes. However, it is a much more difficult task for a woman on pointe to perform three or more pirouettes.
The first two clips are ABT’s Gillian Murphy, one of ballet’s greatest turners. She makes pirouettes look easy, with great form, technique, and control. In an interview on her Gaynor Minden pointe shoes for balletfocus.com, I asked her what advice she could give to young dancers on turning:
“I’m always finding new ways to approach pirouettes. Finding a natural rhythm and spotting coordination are most helpful and is highly unique to the individual dancer. I find that dancers generally get so tense right before they turn that it can throw them off. The entire body needs to be engaged and the legs must be ready to fire quickly. All this comes from dynamic barre work. In addition, there also has to be a balanced sense of freedom in the supported but lush plié and in relaxing the neck enough to spot effectively. Most importantly, I would encourage young dancers to enjoy turning as a part of dancing rather than as a separate and scary “trick.” Turning can be exciting to watch (and I love the feeling of turning!) but in fact, many of my favorite dancers usually do solid and beautiful double turns. It is their artistry and musicality that set them apart as truly exceptional.”