Do a Pirouette

Male dancer performing pirouette in front of class

Mike Harrington/Getty Images

The pirouette, a spin around on one leg, is one of the most difficult of all dance steps. To do a pirouette, you must make a complete turn around yourself, while balancing on one leg. A pirouette may be performed en dehors (turning away from the supporting leg) or en dedans (turning toward the supporting leg). Pirouettes usually begin in fourth, fifth or second position. This is a pirouette from fourth position.

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Starting Position

Starting position
Starting position.

Treva Bedinghaus

  • Stand in fourth position.
  • Both legs should be straight.
  • If your right foot is in front, make sure your left arm is facing the front and vice versa.
  • Fix your eyes on a spot at eye level.
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Bend Both Legs

Bend your knees
Bend your knees.

Treva Bedinghaus

Bend both legs into a deep plié.

  • Concentrate on sinking both heels into the floor, so that you can push off into your pirouette.
  • Keep your eyes fixated as you prepare to start the turn.
  • Concentrate on holding your body in a tight position.
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Spring Up and Turn

Spring up and turn
Spring up and turn.

Treva Bedinghaus

Spring up into retiré position as you begin your turn.

  • Relevé to demi-pointe, or full-pointe if you are wearing pointe shoes, bringing your back foot up to your front leg.
  • Hold your arms in first position.
  • Find your center of balance and hold it tightly.
  • Turn your body and legs together as a unit.
  • Hold your shoulders level.
  • Keep your eyes fixed as long as you can, then whip your head around and focus again.
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Complete the Turn

Complete the turn
Complete the turn.

Treva Bedinghaus

Hold your body straight while you complete the turn.

  • Stay tight by holding in your abs.
  • Hold your foot exactly in place as you turn.
  • Keep both legs turned out throughout the pirouette.
  • As you spot, make sure your head completes the rotation before your body, as this will prevent dizziness and create momentum.
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Finishing Position

Finishing position
Finishing position.

Treva Bedinghaus

The finish of a pirouette is as important as the start. Gracefully finish the pirouette in fourth position.