Wednesday, November 14, 2007

7 Highly Effective Tips for Fouettes To Improve Ballet Technique

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Traveling, in a series of pirouettes,ballet fouettes, or turns a la seconde, is a problem of strength holding the postural plumb line. If the movement is not perfectly vertical, the turns will travel and flounder.


Here are 7 highly effective tips to examine your technique for fouettes and turns a la seconde:

Postural Plumb Line

Standing sideways to a mirror, do a few press ups in first position. Do you have a postural plumb line? If your core muscles, your turnout, your ankles and soles of the foot are steady, also check to see that these movements are done with no strain in the shoulders and neck.

Core Muscles Strength

With fingertips on the barre, do slow motion press ups and down in retire, or a la seconde. If you can do this without strain in the neck and shoulders, great. If there is strain, you need to build up strength in your core muscles, and possibly overall. If a postural deviation from your plumb line shows up here, check for technical accuracy.

Compensations/Counter Compensations

What specific technical accuracy? The basics, always. Is your turnout strong, or have you compensated by shoving your supporting heel forward when you plie, changing your center of balance?

Are you dropping your weight back in the bottom of the demi plie? A shorter demi plie is not a bad thing.

What counts is being in good posture in your demi plie so that you can press with your heel/foot, into the floor, and use gravity to push up, without having to make another compensation to rise into a straight position.

It's a lot more work to keep all these compensations/counter-compensations going.


Spend several weeks if necessary, to address the above issues, until you can do rises and releves with correct posture and placement. Learn some Pilates core work, and stretch and relax all your muscles, before, during and after class.

Spotting/Inclined Head

To check your spotting, walk on the spot, turning as far as you can toward a quarter turn, leaving your head to the front. I don't specifiy exactly how far you should turn, because this depends on the extent your head will turn without inclining.

Memorize this feeling and this head position. This is just to feel the looseness of your neck muscles in leaving your head behind.

Rinse And Repeat

Repeat this exercise in retire or a la seconde. Use a partner, to hold the hand of your supporting side as you turn away from the front. Again, this is to check the neck (and shoulders) relaxation as you releve, and to check your postural plumb line in the position of your turn, and your demi plie. (We haven't dealt with fouette yet).


For fouettes, use a partner in the center, to do your demi plie with the leg extended devant, and then do a slow motion press up with the ronde de jambe and into retire, turning a little.

This is to again check the postural plumb line, correct demi plie, and ease of the neck in leaving the head behind.

This whole process may take place over a whole year. You will be doing your pirouettes, fouettes and turns a la seconde all the time. But as you gain strength, and learn to see and feel those tiny compensations you have been doing, you will build excellent work habits for these spectacular feats.

Ballet is much harder to do incorrectly. If your early training wasn't the best, you can back-peddle like this to improve ballet technique in your advanced levels.

For any overworked muscles use an ice pack at least twice a day. An arnica cream or BioFreeze is wonderful for soft tissue repair. Apply after icing.

So save yourself time and over-exertion. Get The Perfect Pointe Book if you need to re-learn more ballet technique moves.

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