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Pole Basics: Perfecting the Pirouette

Fluidity — It Begins With POLE BASICS!

Being fluid around the pole is a huge concern for many dancers, and with good reason. It’s hard! For lots of us, our happy place is on the pole or on the floor. That in-between land of movement around the pole is not quite as familiar. But mastering a few pole basics can make a HUGE difference in your overall fluidity. Today we’ll talk about the pirouette.

I won’t ask you do to a zillion in one go, like this adorable young lady below (let’s say it together: HOLY MOLY):
gif of dancer doing multiple pirouettes

But if you can do one or two with balance and precision, you’ll be ahead of the flow game. First we’ll talk about pirouettes themselves, and then we’ll talk about how to link them seamlessly to moves and spins.

Anatomy of a Pirouette

A solid pirouette begins with lessening friction. Flat-footed pirouettes = you’ll be making a sad face, whomp whomp. Think about it. If you’re trying to spin around on one foot, doesn’t it make sense that you want minimal contact between the floor and that foot? You need to eliminate drag before your pirouettes can be easy and floaty. So get onto the balls of your feet before you do a single turn.

Then, as you make your turn, it’s crucial to keep your body stacked over the balls of your feet. Note that a well-executed pirouette requires a significant amount of core engagement to maintain that stacked position. Lose engagement, and you could find yourself lagging behind your pirouette … or leading it. Either of these will take you off balance and make it more difficult to finish your pirouette in a controlled fashion. If you frequently find yourself careening out of control right at the end of a pirouette, or feeling like you’re going to “fall” out of your pirouette, this is probably the reason!

Think about boxers — if you hear a commentator remark that a fighter is “back on the heels” it means he or she has lost balance. When you’re on the balls of your feet, you can move easily in any direction to regain your balance. If you’re on your heels, you’re flat-footed. And we all know that flat-footed ain’t good.

Pirouette All The Things

One of the reasons pirouettes are so valuable is that they make gorgeous transitional moves. You can link them together and do several at a time, use them to seamlessly step into a spin, or incorporate them as part of all sorts of twirly moves! I freakin’ love pirouettes, and my instagram channels tell the tale. When I pirouette and twirl and move around the pole continually, it kind of builds fluidity in to whatever I’m doing. And that’s because I have done so many that I can do them without thinking.

One of the great things about pirouettes is that you can work on them any old time. During freestyles, when you're taking a mid-session break from serious body weight tricks, on rest days .....

And you can work on them as a complete pole newbie because they don't require upper body strength and they are great for helping core conditioning and balance! Trust me when I tell you that the earlier you start doing pirouettes and LOTS OF THEM, the sooner you will feel more fluid in your dance.

Some of my favorite ways to play with pirouettes are to vary the leg position on the leading leg, from stag leg to extended to a stiletto floor scrape (AKA an ice skater scrape). YUMMY. I also like to take a pirouette straight into a spin -- you can take some pirouettes straight into inside leg hook spins (e.g. a front hook spin) without ever touching down. Or, I can touch down with the inside leg and use that as my step foot to head straight into any spin that uses an outside swing leg for momentum.

You NEED pirouettes in your pole life! Get out there and twirl!

UPArtists

UPArtists

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