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Ballet Pirouette

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Pirouette [peer-WET]. Whirl or spin. A complete turn of the body on one foot, on point or demi-pointe. Pirouettes are performed en dedans, turning inward toward the supporting leg, or en dehors, turning outward in the direction of the raised leg. Correct body placement is essential in all kinds of pirouettes. The body must be well centered over the supporting leg with the back held strongly and the hips and shoulders aligned. The force of momentum is furnished by the arms, which remain immobile during the turn. The head is the last to move as the body turns away from the spectator and the first to arrive as the body comes around to the spectator, with the eyes focused at a definite point which must be at eye level. This use of the eyes while turning is called “spotting.” Pirouettes maybe performed in any given position, such as sur le cou-de-pied, en attitude, en arabesque, a la seconde, etc.  Pirouette, grande [grahnd peer-WET]. Large pirouette. This is a series of turns on one foot with the raised leg held in the second position en Fair, in attitude or arabesque, or in a combination of poses. The body turns en dehors and a releve is made on the supporting foot with each turn. The series may also include small hopping turns in which the dancer pivots on the ball of the foot while quickly shifting the heel with tiny, sharp movements. The grande pirouette is concluded with multiple turns sur le cou-de-pied. It is usually performed to 16 or 32 measures of a galop. See Pirouette a la seconde, grande; Pirouette sautillee, grande.  Pirouette, supported [(supported) peer- WET]. This is a pirouette in which the dancer is supported and steadied by her male partner as she turns. There are several kinds of supported pirouettes, such as pirouettes en dehors, fouettes ronds de jambe en tournant (finger turns), pirouettes en dedans taken from a preparation enveloppe, and so on.  Pirouette a la seconde, grande [grahnd peer-WET a lah suh- GAWND]. Large pirouette in the second position. This pirouette is usually performed by male dancers. It is a series of turns on one foot with the free leg raised to the second position en Pair at 90 degrees. Demi-plie in the second position (R arm curved in front of the body, L arm in second); spring onto the L demi-pointe, throwing the R leg to the second position and turning en dehors. At the completion of the first turn, the supporting heel is lowered in demi-plie, then immediately pushes from the floor to demi-pointe, and the turn is repeated. After a series of 8 or 16 turns, grande pirouette is usually concluded with multiple pirouettes sur le cou-de-pied. The force for the first turn is taken by the R arm, which opens to the second position. The arms remain in the second position during the series of turns, then close in the first position for the concluding pirouettes. The head turns and the eyes “spot,” providing additional force for the turns.  Pirouette en arabesque [peer-WET ah na-ra-BESK ]. Pirouette in arabesque. En dedans: Fourth position croise R foot front with the weight on the R leg, which is in demi-plie. The R arm is curved in front of the body and the L arm is held in the second position. Push off with both heels (the L leg remains stretched) and releve on the R foot, turning the body to face the right wall, at which time the first arabesque position is taken. One or two turns are executed, with the R arm providing the force. The eyes follow the R hand. En dehors: Fourth position croise R foot back. The L arm is extended to the second position, R arm curved in front of the body or extended forward. The center of weight is on the L leg with the R leg stretched in back. Push off with both heels (the R leg remains stretched) and releve on the L leg, raising the R leg to the third Russian arabesque, and make a complete turn to the right. The L arm and hand give a push to the right while remaining in the arabesque position. The head remains immobile, with the eyes following the R hand.  Pirouette en attitude [ peer-WET ah na-tee-TEWD ]. Pirouette in attitude. The turn is performed either en dedans or en dehors and the preparation is taken from the fourth position.  En dedans: Fourth position croise R foot front; weight on the R leg, which is in demi-plie; L arm held in the second position, R arm curved in front of the waist. Push off with both heels and releve on the R foot, establishing the pose attitude effacee immediately, then turn one or more turns to the right. The force is taken with the R arm, which is thrust to the side while the L arm swings above the head in the line of vision. The head does not “spot.” En dehors: Fourth position croise R foot back, R arm extended forward (or curved in front of the waist), L arm extended to the side. Demi-plie and push off with both heels into a releve on the L foot, establishing the pose attitude croisee derriere immediately, then turn one or more turns to the right. The head does not “spot.”  Pirouette en dedans [ peer-WET ahn duh-DAHN]. Pirouette, turning inward. The body turns toward the supporting leg; that is, if the turn is made on the right foot, the dancer will turn to the right. SeePirouette sur le cou-de- pied.   Pirouette from a grand plie [peer-WET; grahn plee-AY]. This turn is used in adagio exercises in the classroom. When the extreme point of the plie is reached, the leg upon which the pirouette is to be done should be immediately extended and the desired number of turns executed on the demi- pointe, with the free foot sur le cou-de-pied. The turn is done en dedans or en dehors.   Pirouette renverse [ peer-WET rahn-vehr-SAY ]. Pirouette upset. This pirouette is performed en dedans with the raised leg held in retire devant. Execute one or two pirouettes in this position, then, at the beginning of the last turn, bend the body to the side of the raised leg; at the end of the turn, bend the body forcefully to the side of the supporting leg, while throwing the raised leg in a developpe a la seconde. See Renverse en ecarte.  Pirouette sautillee, grande [grahnd peer-WET soh-tee-YAY ]. Large hopping pirouette. A term of the Russian School. This pirouette is done with the supporting leg in demi-plie while turning en dehors with tiny hops on the whole foot, the heel barely leaving the floor. The working leg is held in the second position en Fair at 90 degrees.  Pirouette sur le cou-de-pied [ peer-WET sewr luh koo-duh-PYAY ]. Pirouette on the ankle. This is a complete turn of the body on point or demi- pointe with the free foot raised sur le cou-de-pied devant or retire devant. The higher position with the foot pointed in front of the knee is usually used by girls, while boys usually keep the foot sur le cou-de-pied. The turn is done either en dedans or en dehors and may be single, double, triple, etc. The preparation for the turn is taken from the fifth, fourth or second position. As a rule, all pirouettes en dedans finish in front of the supporting leg, while all pirouettes en dehors finish behind the supporting leg. En dehors (from the fifth position) : Demi-plie in the fifth position R foot front with the R arm curved in front of the body and the L arm in the second position. Push off with both heels, releve on the L foot with the R foot sur le cou-de-pied devant and make a complete turn to the right. The force for the turn is provided by the L arm, which comes in to meet the R arm in front of the waist. After one or more turns, finish in demi-plie in the fifth position R foot back, opening the arms slightly forward of the second position. The knees are then straightened. En dedans from the fifth position): Demi-plie in the fifth position R foot front with the R arm curved in front of the body and the L arm in the second position. Push off with both heels, releve on the R foot and immediately bring the L foot sur le cou-de-pied devant, making a complete turn to the right. The force is provided by the L arm, which comes in to meet the R arm in front of the waist. After one or more turns, finish in demi-plie in the fifth position L foot front, opening the arms slightly forward of the second position. En dehors from the fourth position) : There are two accepted stances for a pirouette en dehors from the fourth position. In one, both knees are bent in demi-plie with the weight equally distributed on both feet, while in the other the front knee is bent in demi-plie with the back leg stretched, the whole foot on the floor and the center of weight on the front leg. In the Russian School, the preparation with the weight on the forward leg is preferred. Fourth position croise L foot front, R arm curved in front of the body and the L arm in the second position. Demi-plie on both legs, push off with both heels and releve on the L foot, raising the R foot sur le cou-de-pied devant while making a complete turn to the right. The force for the turn is provided by the L arm, which comes in to meet the R arm in front of the waist. After one or more turns, finish in demi-plie in either the fourth or fifth position croise, R foot back. The arms open slightly forward of the second position. If the pirouette is taken from the lunge position with the weight on the forward leg, the R arm is stretched forward and the L arm is held in the second position with both palms down. A quick demi-plie is taken on both feet with the center of weight over the front foot. The force for the turn is provided by the L arm. En dedans from the fourth position): Fourth position croise R foot front with the weight on the R leg and the L leg stretched back with the whole foot on the floor. The R arm is curved in front of the body and the L arm is in the second position. Raise the back leg slightly and carry it to the second position en Fair at 45 degrees and open the R arm to the second position; immediately releve on the R foot, bring the L foot sur le cou-de-pied devant and make a complete turn to the right. The L arm provides the force and both arms meet in front of the waist. Finish in demi-plie in the fifth position croise L foot front. In the Russian School when this turn is done on point, the working foot is brought directly to sur le cou-de-pied devant on the releve. En dehors (from the second position) : This preparation is usually used by male dancers. Demi-plie in the second position with the R arm curved in front of the body and the L arm in the second position; push off with both heels and spring on the L demi-pointe, raising the R foot sur le cou-de-pied devant and making a complete turn to the right. The force for the turn is provided by the L arm, which comes in to meet the right in front of the waist. After one or more turns, finish in demi-plie in the fifth position R foot back. The arms open to slightly forward of the second position. En dedans (from the second position) : This is done in the same manner but the turn is done to the right on the R leg. Finish in demi-plie in the fifth position L foot front.
Jacklyn Dougherty

Pirouette [peer-WET]. Whirl or spin. A complete turn of the body on one foot, on point or demi-pointe. Pirouettes are performed en dedans, turning inward toward the supporting leg, or en dehors, turning outward in the direction of the raised leg. Correct body placement is essential in all kinds of pirouettes. The body must be well centered over the supporting leg with the back held strongly and the hips and shoulders aligned. The force of momentum is furnished by the arms, which remain immobile during the turn. The head is the last to move as the body turns away from the spectator and the first to arrive as the body comes around to the spectator, with the eyes focused at a definite point which must be at eye level. This use of the eyes while turning is called “spotting.” Pirouettes maybe performed in any given position, such as sur le cou-de-pied, en attitude, en arabesque, a la seconde, etc.


Pirouette, grande [grahnd peer-WET]. Large pirouette. This is a series of turns on one foot with the raised leg held in the second position en Fair, in attitude or arabesque, or in a combination of poses. The body turns en dehors and a releve is made on the supporting foot with each turn. The series may also include small hopping turns in which the dancer pivots on the ball of the foot while quickly shifting the heel with tiny, sharp movements. The grande pirouette is concluded with multiple turns sur le cou-de-pied. It is usually performed to 16 or 32 measures of a galop. See Pirouette a la seconde, grande; Pirouette sautillee, grande.


Pirouette, supported [(supported) peer- WET]. This is a pirouette in which the dancer is supported and steadied by her male partner as she turns. There are several kinds of supported pirouettes, such as pirouettes en dehors, fouettes ronds de jambe en tournant (finger turns), pirouettes en dedans taken from a preparation enveloppe, and so on.


Pirouette a la seconde, grande [grahnd peer-WET a lah suh- GAWND]. Large pirouette in the second position. This pirouette is usually performed by male dancers. It is a series of turns on one foot with the free leg raised to the second position en Pair at 90 degrees. Demi-plie in the second position (R arm curved in front of the body, L arm in second); spring onto the L demi-pointe, throwing the R leg to the second position and turning en dehors. At the completion of the first turn, the supporting heel is lowered in demi-plie, then immediately pushes from the floor to demi-pointe, and the turn is repeated. After a series of 8 or 16 turns, grande pirouette is usually concluded with multiple pirouettes sur le cou-de-pied. The force for the first turn is taken by the R arm, which opens to the second position. The arms remain in the second position during the series of turns, then close in the first position for the concluding pirouettes. The head turns and the eyes “spot,” providing additional force for the turns.


Pirouette en arabesque [peer-WET ah na-ra-BESK ]. Pirouette in arabesque.

En dedans: Fourth position croise R foot front with the weight on the R leg, which is in demi-plie. The R arm is curved in front of the body and the L arm is held in the second position. Push off with both heels (the L leg remains stretched) and releve on the R foot, turning the body to face the right wall, at which time the first arabesque position is taken. One or two turns are executed, with the R arm providing the force. The eyes follow the R hand.

En dehors: Fourth position croise R foot back. The L arm is extended to the second position, R arm curved in front of the body or extended forward. The center of weight is on the L leg with the R leg stretched in back. Push off with both heels (the R leg remains stretched) and releve on the L leg, raising the R leg to the third Russian arabesque, and make a complete turn to the right. The L arm and hand give a push to the right while remaining in the arabesque position. The head remains immobile, with the eyes following the R hand.


Pirouette en attitude [ peer-WET ah na-tee-TEWD ]. Pirouette in attitude. The turn is performed either en dedans or en dehors and the preparation is taken from the fourth position.


En dedans: Fourth position croise R foot front; weight on the R leg, which is in demi-plie; L arm held in the second position, R arm curved in front of the waist. Push off with both heels and releve on the R foot, establishing the pose attitude effacee immediately, then turn one or more turns to the right. The force is taken with the R arm, which is thrust to the side while the L arm swings above the head in the line of vision. The head does not “spot.”

En dehors: Fourth position croise R foot back, R arm extended forward (or curved in front of the waist), L arm extended to the side. Demi-plie and push off with both heels into a releve on the L foot, establishing the pose attitude croisee derriere immediately, then turn one or more turns to the right. The head does not “spot.”


Pirouette en dedans [ peer-WET ahn duh-DAHN]. Pirouette, turning inward. The body turns toward the supporting leg; that is, if the turn is made on the right foot, the dancer will turn to the right. SeePirouette sur le cou-de- pied.



Pirouette from a grand plie [peer-WET; grahn plee-AY]. This turn is used in adagio exercises in the classroom. When the extreme point of the plie is reached, the leg upon which the pirouette is to be done should be immediately extended and the desired number of turns executed on the demi- pointe, with the free foot sur le cou-de-pied. The turn is done en dedans or en dehors.



Pirouette renverse [ peer-WET rahn-vehr-SAY ]. Pirouette upset. This pirouette is performed en dedans with the raised leg held in retire devant. Execute one or two pirouettes in this position, then, at the beginning of the last turn, bend the body to the side of the raised leg; at the end of the turn, bend the body forcefully to the side of the supporting leg, while throwing the raised leg in a developpe a la seconde. See Renverse en ecarte.


Pirouette sautillee, grande [grahnd peer-WET soh-tee-YAY ]. Large hopping pirouette. A term of the Russian School. This pirouette is done with the supporting leg in demi-plie while turning en dehors with tiny hops on the whole foot, the heel barely leaving the floor. The working leg is held in the second position en Fair at 90 degrees.


Pirouette sur le cou-de-pied [ peer-WET sewr luh koo-duh-PYAY ]. Pirouette on the ankle. This is a complete turn of the body on point or demi- pointe with the free foot raised sur le cou-de-pied devant or retire devant. The higher position with the foot pointed in front of the knee is usually used by girls, while boys usually keep the foot sur le cou-de-pied. The turn is done either en dedans or en dehors and may be single, double, triple, etc. The preparation for the turn is taken from the fifth, fourth or second position. As a rule, all pirouettes en dedans finish in front of the supporting leg, while all pirouettes en dehors finish behind the supporting leg.

En dehors (from the fifth position) : Demi-plie in the fifth position R foot front with the R arm curved in front of the body and the L arm in the second position. Push off with both heels, releve on the L foot with the R foot sur le cou-de-pied devant and make a complete turn to the right. The force for the turn is provided by the L arm, which comes in to meet the R arm in front of the waist. After one or more turns, finish in demi-plie in the fifth position R foot back, opening the arms slightly forward of the second position. The knees are then straightened.

En dedans from the fifth position): Demi-plie in the fifth position R foot front with the R arm curved in front of the body and the L arm in the second position. Push off with both heels, releve on the R foot and immediately bring the L foot sur le cou-de-pied devant, making a complete turn to the right. The force is provided by the L arm, which comes in to meet the R arm in front of the waist. After one or more turns, finish in demi-plie in the fifth position L foot front, opening the arms slightly forward of the second position.

En dehors from the fourth position) : There are two accepted stances for a pirouette en dehors from the fourth position. In one, both knees are bent in demi-plie with the weight equally distributed on both feet, while in the other the front knee is bent in demi-plie with the back leg stretched, the whole foot on the floor and the center of weight on the front leg. In the Russian School, the preparation with the weight on the forward leg is preferred. Fourth position croise L foot front, R arm curved in front of the body and the L arm in the second position. Demi-plie on both legs, push off with both heels and releve on the L foot, raising the R foot sur le cou-de-pied devant while making a complete turn to the right. The force for the turn is provided by the L arm, which comes in to meet the R arm in front of the waist. After one or more turns, finish in demi-plie in either the fourth or fifth position croise, R foot back. The arms open slightly forward of the second position. If the pirouette is taken from the lunge position with the weight on the forward leg, the R arm is stretched forward and the L arm is held in the second position with both palms down. A quick demi-plie is taken on both feet with the center of weight over the front foot. The force for the turn is provided by the L arm.

En dedans from the fourth position): Fourth position croise R foot front with the weight on the R leg and the L leg stretched back with the whole foot on the floor. The R arm is curved in front of the body and the L arm is in the second position. Raise the back leg slightly and carry it to the second position en Fair at 45 degrees and open the R arm to the second position; immediately releve on the R foot, bring the L foot sur le cou-de-pied devant and make a complete turn to the right. The L arm provides the force and both arms meet in front of the waist. Finish in demi-plie in the fifth position croise L foot front. In the Russian School when this turn is done on point, the working foot is brought directly to sur le cou-de-pied devant on the releve.

En dehors (from the second position) : This preparation is usually used by male dancers. Demi-plie in the second position with the R arm curved in front of the body and the L arm in the second position; push off with both heels and spring on the L demi-pointe, raising the R foot sur le cou-de-pied devant and making a complete turn to the right. The force for the turn is provided by the L arm, which comes in to meet the right in front of the waist. After one or more turns, finish in demi-plie in the fifth position R foot back. The arms open to slightly forward of the second position.

En dedans (from the second position) : This is done in the same manner but the turn is done to the right on the R leg. Finish in demi-plie in the fifth position L foot front.


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