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 fourthfifth or second position. This is a pirouette from fourth position.

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Starting Position

Starting position. Photo © 2008 Treva Bedinghaus, licensed to, Inc.
  • 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. Photo © 2008 Treva Bedinghaus, licensed to, Inc.

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. Photo © 2008 Treva Bedinghaus, licensed to, Inc.

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. Photo © 2008 Treva Bedinghaus, licensed to, Inc.

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. Photo © 2008 Treva Bedinghaus, licensed to, Inc.

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