Fouetté Pirouettes

9:00 AM


*this post was originally written for 8Count Audio*


Fouetté: the word inspired fear into the hearts of ballet students everywhere. The uncontrollable nightmare that whirls you off your feet and sends you flying across the room into embarrassment and humiliation.

Okay, maybe you’re not as terrified about fouettés as I was. But honestly, that’s how I used to think of them.

Until I figured them out.

There are a few key secrets to mastering fouettés. I’ve done my 32, and I got up to about 24 en pointe (that was in High School when I was dancing every day) and really, once I figured them out, they were a lot of fun.

The turn. There are two basic ways to actually do your turn. The French method is to plié in your battement front, then relevé in second, passé to turn. I’ve found that this method is good for people who have shorter legs—but if you have long legs, it will whirl you around so fast you’ll probably lose control. My suggestion is to try the Russian method: plié in your battement front, carry to the side while still in plié, and then relevé passé. Some people even skip the battement to the front and just go side/passé/side/passé.

The heel. Don’t slam your heel down when you plié. It makes you completely lose all control over your balance. Instead, imagine you are squishing an orange or a bouncy-ball under your heel every time you plié, and lift up in your spine as you go down.

The energy. Energy is extremely important in fouettés. When you plié and battement (either front or side) visualize shooting beams of energy up out of your head, straight out of your arms, down into the floor from both of your hips, and out of your extended leg. Your sacrum is your center of balance, so imagine a glowing ball of light that creates those beams of energy. This “cross” of power will keep you centered and keep you from falling, losing control, or traveling across the room.

The timing. Don’t try to do fouetté to a 2/4 or a 4/4 beat: do it to a very fast waltz. Count off to three a few times, and use the 1 as your whip, the 2 as your turn, and the 3 as your plié. Once you get the rhythm, fouettés are not the nightmare they used to be!

The spot. Don’t forget your spot. It’s still the most important part of your turn. Without it, you completely lose yourself. Remember those beams of light you’re shooting? Shoot them out of your eyes at your spot as well!

The mind. If all else fails, don’t be intimidated by fouettés. They’re just like any other turn, just a little harder. Don’t think too hard, and let your body do what it knows to do. If you can’t seem to master them, try visualizing yourself doing six or eight—if you fall in your head, you will fall in the studio. Your problem may be in your mind!

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