6 Tips for Improving Your Double Pirouette from Fifth

June 29, 2017

Updated on 1/26/2022

Few turns make dancers more tempted to cheat than pirouettes from fifth, especially doubles. Former New York City Ballet principal Jenifer Ringer, who is now on faculty at the Dance Conservatory of Charleston,  gives her tips for nailing them every time.

1. Have faith in your fifth:
It’s hard to trust that your fifth position will give you enough force to turn. As a result, Jenifer Ringer sees dancers “lean forward, stick their bottoms out or move their front legs so they’re not really turning from fifth.” Try practicing a clean single pirouette without cheating. “It takes figuring out,” she acknowledges, but you’ll add rotations “without losing the integrity of your technique.”

Kyle Froman, Courtesy Dance Teacher.

Tip: “Press into the floor when you prepare,” Ringer recommends, but keep it moving. “The plié should build strength and momentum going into the relevé.”

2. Keep your limbs close:
“Don’t let that working-side arm swing out behind you,” says Ringer. “It goes front and away, then immediately comes back into [first] position.” Similarly, “the working toe goes towards the supporting toe, then right up under your nose as you start to revolve.”

3. Spot with rhythm:
Use timing to develop consistency. “Find something to say to yourself every time, like, ‘one-two-lift-land,’ or ‘spot-spot-lift-land.’ ”

4. Use your complete core:
Ringer observes that students often tense up their backs without feeling “laced-up” in the front. “Feel both your stomach and your back, so there’s a strong framework from your shoulder blades into your arms.”

5. Pull up to come down:
Lift the working knee a little bit, keeping the toes attached to the standing leg, at the end of the last rotation. “Keep your back and chest up so that you can end cleanly,” she says, “and maintain the lift in your hips as you plié.”

Tip: After a successful double turn, put thought into it. What made it work?

6. “Don’t let the ending be an ending.”
The end of the pirouette, Ringer points out, is the preparation for whatever movement is next, even if that’s “hitting a beautiful position and then curtsying and running offstage.”