Every movement you make should be powered by the action of your feet (or foot). In terms of preparing for the pirouette en dehors from the fourth position, keep the following in mind:
- Your supporting foot grips the floor in order to bring the body and legs into place for the preparatory pose and the plié.
- Your supporting foot grips the floor in opposition to the upward stretch of your head. This engages and connects all of the muscles in your supporting leg from the toes to the hip. How can you expect to line up your leg bones properly unless you engage the muscles that move them?
- Your supporting foot grips the floor in order to bring all of the weight of your body into it.
- Your supporting foot grips the floor and determines the placement of your back foot.
- Your supporting foot pushes down on the floor so that you relevé and turn on a straight leg.
- When your back toe leaves the floor that is when you turn your head and spot.
Excerpted from my book The Finis Jhung Ballet Technique: A Guide for Teachers & Students
The biggest challenge a dancer faces each day is being able to repeat the correct preparation—for a balance, turn, or jump—over and over, day after day—with a sense of newness and discovery. It’s always the same, but you have changed.
You’re always stretched up and standing tall in Number 1, but when you plié-relevé there is a distinct difference in how you move and look according to the way you do it. Here’s how to get the feeling of making your plié relevé correctly. Stand in front of a wall, arms-length away, place both hands on the wall, and lean in so both elbows are bent. Slowly push yourself away from the wall. Your elbows straighten because you push the wall. Continue pushing until your hand leaves the wall and you are pushing the wall with just your fingertips. In the same way, your legs straighten when you relevé because you are pushing down on the floor. Driving down in order to go up—pushing down to relevé—instead of trying to pull yourself up—sends your weight down into the floor and gives you better balance and fluidity of movement. Try it.