Here's a pirouette thought as you head into your holiday weekend (starting today! and by the way, I am teaching an Intermediate level ballet class this morning at Le Studio in Pasadena, 10-11:30AM):
MAKE YOURSELF BIGGER
As I often remind people, there are a zillion ways to approach turns and I am never going to tell you my way of turning is better than anyone else's but I will say this...I am fascinated by the mechanics of turns (and pointe work, but that's another subject) so I am always looking for tips and techniques I can pass on to my students because pirouettes can make people so anxious - I know because I am one of them.
So you may have been taught to fold your arms across your chest, a la Balanchine, or to carry them at your waist but no matter how you do it, you want to be as aerodynamic as possible. I suggest you approach this by thinking BIG.
It feels counter-intuitive to be big, especially when you think about ballet dancers as delicate or dainty and when you want to go around many, many times. But watch an ice skater when she turns on her blades: she spins - she wants to spin - so she pulls herself in, arms tucked closely to her body, and she makes herself very small. This is the opposite of a pirouette. A spin is not a turn.
How to be big:
--Keep your arms VERY wide, as wide and as round as you can and try to match your fingertips together at the center of your chest, at breastbone level, not waist.
--Feel your back expand, breathe through your whole ribcage.
--Open your leg in the retire position very flat and wide and press your knee back as far and as flat as it can but do not let it turn in or get tucked close to your standing leg.
--Keep your shoulders down but not rounded; think of them pressing back in opposition to your knees and hips.
--Imagine yourself taking up more space in the room, not less.
This is one of those times I can absolutely promise you that your turns will improve. I promise! Get those arms up and round and think big and open, not tight and closed, and your pirouettes will much cleaner and more controllable.
Happy Fourth and happy dancing~