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Jazz - General
Guide to a Perfect Turn! (karma: 21)
By chaine_boimember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 729, member since Wed Mar 30, 2005
On Sun Feb 12, 2006 06:14 AM
Edited by chaine_boi (127047) on 2006-02-12 06:16:58
Edited by chaine_boi (127047) on 2006-02-12 06:30:36
Edited by chaine_boi (127047) on 2006-02-12 06:37:24
Edited by chaine_boi (127047) on 2006-02-12 06:39:26
Made sticky by Theresa (28613) on 2006-02-14 22:26:57
Edited by pharmadancer (87219) on 2006-04-19 04:48:38 member request - fixed spelling of "soutenu"

Well I saw the leap guide and not to be outdone I decided to put turns in here. Hope you like the guide:

chaine_boi's Guide to a Perfect Turn

1)Spotting. Without it you will end up not knowing where you are. You will get dizzy. You will fall on your butt. How to spot? Spotting is a whipping movement of the head while turning. It is when you keep your vision focused on one thing and keep looking at it. As you turn, you whip your head around as fast as possible to keep looking at that object. You will never get fouette turns or a triple pirouette if you don't know how to spot! A good spotting exercise is looking at yourself in the mirror and turning very slowly. When you can't turn your neck anymore to see yourself, whip it around so you can see yourself again.

2)Strong core stability. This is mostly your abs. I find that people with stronger abs can do better turns that those without. If you don't have strong abs, a good excercise is to lie on your back, lift both legs straight up to the ceiling (pointe feet), lift your shoulders up like you are doing a sit-up, point your arms to the front and pulse them up and down. Do 8 slow pulses (it helps to have a beat), then do 16 fast pulses. Repeat this and you should feel a burn in your abs. When you turn, it helps to contract your abs, squeeze your po-po (bum-bum), and have very stable arms. Your turn will suck if you are weak, and without stability, you will fall before you can get a double. Strong core stability equals better balance. And maintain a good posture!

3)Plie when you prep. You will find it hard to get into a good pirouette without that plie. Your chaines will be extra hard if you don't utilize your plie (if it's in the choreography). Your pencil turns will flop. You need your turns to come from the ground. Put your weight on the leg that you are going to be turning on. Also, if you are doing a stamp-turn, that is your prep for a turning-jump, so you will plie on that.

4)Get into your turn, quickly now! Don't take forever to get from your prep into your turn. Releve means "quickly rise". Snap into your turns. Also, remember when your releve into a pirouette, to slide your foot under you like have an inch or so. It really helps with your balance. A good exercise for this is to stand at the barre. Both legs in jazz first, plie. Then releve quickly in first posistion. Plie, then releve on your right leg, retire on your left. Plie, releve both legs in first again. Plie, releve on left leg, retire on your right. Also, in the center, you can do this exercise, but with a single pirouette with each releve/retire.

5)Stretch your knees and feet when you turn. Now, this doesn't apply to fouette's and a la seconde turns where you need to plie as you turn. However, when your knees are supposed to be stretched, stretch them like crazy. Drill a hole in the ground with your stretched feet and knees. When your foot is in retire, point it. Chaines look like crap with un-stretched legs. Stretched legs also help with your balance.

*Also remember to practice turns on both sides! Don't be a weak one sided dancer. You aren't good at fouette turns until you can do them on both legs. If one side sucks, then you can't say you can do fouette turns.

Jazz Turns
Chaine (sheh-nay) - This is a turn where you take two steps on demi-point with both legs together to get a full rotation. Your first step should step out, and your second step should step in front so your body turns around with it. Usually beginners will end in a jazz rock. Remember to keep the legs and feet tight together.

Stamp-turn - There are two variations I know of this. One is where you stamp onto one leg (plie) and the other foot is behind you (stretched) about 3 inches of the ground. Then you step into releve on classical fifth (feet tight together). The other is when you stamp out and the other foot comes to coupe, then the other foot stamps in front so you do a turn. I use the second one more.

Pirouette (peer-ooh-et) - Start in fourth position, front foot on the ground, back foot on demi-pointe, both legs plie. Arms are in third, and the arm facing front should be the opposite of the foot that's in front (so right arm to left foot, vice-versa). This all happens at the same time: releve on your left foot, right leg comes to retire, arms come to jack-knife or shortened first. Now try the other side. If you are just learning pirouettes, it's best to not turn yet, but get used to balancing. And when you do start with single turns, don't use your arms to get around. The motion of your arms coming into shortened first should be enough if you have a good strong pirouette postion. And stay tight together so you don't throw off your momentum. The stronger your abs, the more turns you can do. It's really mostly your abs, I have found. You can start these from second, fourth, third or fifth if you want. Whatever the choreography calls for. Remember to turn in the direction of the arm that is stretch out front. So if you are on your right foot, you turn counter-clockwise, and left is clockwise. You can do them the other way but those are harder and used less often in choreography.

Pencil Turn or Soutenu (soo-ten-ooh): This is like a pirouette. You can start from fourth. Right foot plie, left foot demi-point. Arms in third again. Now, this time, here is what happens. Right foot releve, left foot stretches and steps slightly behind, arms come to bras bas (or whatever you want), and as you turn, your legs come together. Your left foot should be half and inch off the ground, so your weight should be on your right, though both feet are on demi-pointe. Also, you can do "classical" soutenus: start with a prep from second rather than fourth. When you turn, the working leg points and stays in second at a 45 degree angle. Both legs are stretched, arms usually in shortened first.

Pique or Pose (poe-zay)- Start with the left foot in plie, and the right foot in front, pointed with just the pinky toe touching the ground. Arms in third (right arm forward). Ronde de jambe the right foot along the ground to second, keeping the right leg very straight. Then step to demi-point on the right foot as your left foot comes to a turned-out retire (passe), with the toes touching behind the knee. Spot to the side. When you come down, you step with your left and ronde de jambe the right foot at the exact same time so you can keep doing these over and over again to the beat. Never ever ever bend the supporting leg. Don't forget to do these to the other side. Arms are in shortened first, and this is an inside turn (clockwise on the right, counter-clockwise on the left). Try doing a pose then when you come around extend your retire into an arabesque and lean forward.

Pose in Attitude - Simple do a pose turn, but with the working leg coming to attitude to the back (derriere). The arms come to jazz fourth, classical fourth, or classical fourth attitude.

Fouette Turn - These are tricky and take lots of work to get. You start in classical fourth (turned out). Left foot is behind, and should be on the ground. Right foot is front, and on demi-point. Do a pirouette in a slight plie (with a turned out retire), then as you face the front, your retire extends to the front and sweeps to the side (that is the fouette) as your supporting legs stretches up. You use this momentum and pirouette again (with a slight plie). Really ask your teacher about these, and it helps to practice the fouette motion at the barre before trying these. Remember that when your working legs fouettes to second (at 90 degrees), both legs should be stretched. Your legs should be turned out at all times. Your arms should be in shortened first. It helps to extend your right arm slightly to the side as your right foot fouettes, but never let your arm lead. Strong core-stability really helps here. You can do these many times in a row. It also helps to start these with a pique, then step, pirouette, foette, pirouette, fouette...

A La Seconde Turn - Like a fouette, but your working leg doesn't return to retire. It stays in second, and you use the motion from your supporting leg to keep you going around. Also, as you face the front, your arms come to second, then shortened first as you turn again.

Jumping Chaine or Saut De Basque - Step to the side like in a chaine, but your left foot comes to retire. Arms should be in second. Bring your right leg to retire (both legs in retire) and now your arms are in shortened first, and as you come around, your left leg steps down. Land in a jazz rock, or inverted chasse out of it. Do whatever you want. Also, you can do a lasoo with the arms. As you turn, your arms stay in second, your left arm swings up and over the head (through classical fourth) and back to second as you land. Remember that it's the right arm that lasoos when you arm doing this turn to your left.

Axel - You prep with a stamp turn (the second one) to the right. As your step with your left leg, your right leg fouettes to second and then both legs tuck under you as you turn. Your right arm should whip out with your right leg and come over your head as both legs tuck. Bring back down the left leg, arms back in shortend first, and land the right leg out in a jazz rock position. Also, if you want a challenge, try doing an axel straight into a pirouette (so your foot doesn't leave retire.

Illusion - I think the reason these are called illusions is because they look so hard, yet are pretty easy in fact. You need your side splits for this one. To prepare before doing this turn, practice your needle stand against a wall, getting into your split as much as possible. A needle is where your torso drops and one leg lifts behind you so you create a straight line with the torso and that leg. After practicing some needles with a wall, do needle kicks (without the wall). Once you are warm, take 2 walks, right left. On the third step, right, you bring the left leg up behind you, and drop the torso so your head is by your knee, and come into your needle pose, arms in ballet 5th, turning outside (counter-clockwise if on the right leg). Spot to the front or side. As you come around, drop your left leg and lift your torso. As you land, step with your left leg. So when going across the floor, it's (on beat) walk walk illusion walk... and so forth.

Double Attitude Turn - Stamp turn to the right, then leap out of it, with your right leg in attitude devant, left leg in attitude derriere. Then chaine out of it, or you can land in a drop.

Baryshnikov - Really a leap, but I will put it here anyways. Stamp turn to the right, then jete straight out of it, with the back leg either straight or in attitude. Either chaine out of it, or do a crumple drop into a demi-fan roll. Arms come to ballet fourth with the right arm extended, or high V.

**Remember to practice your turns on each side. If you have a bad side, don't just ignore it. Actually work on that side until it is as good as your good side. And dance isn't all about how many turns you can do. It's about the quality of your performance and how appropriate your choreography is for a song, how it matches the style, and how you yourself interpret the choreography and make it look spectacular and easy.

I decided to write this guide for anyone who is having some trouble with turns. If this helps anyone, then I am satisfied. Feedback or extra comments are also appreciated.

91 Replies to Guide to a Perfect Turn!

re: Guide to a Perfect Turn! (karma: 1)
By Cuddlepoo Comments: 70, member since Fri Dec 16, 2005
On Sun Feb 12, 2006 12:55 PM
I am having trouble with turns! Thanks for the post I've printed it out. Does anyone know of a site with some good video clips of turns?
re: Guide to a Perfect Turn!
By chaine_boimember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 729, member since Wed Mar 30, 2005
On Mon Feb 13, 2006 12:05 AM
www.halloffamedance.com has good clips of dance solos, which include many turns. www.showstopperonline.com has some good clips of dances as well. I wouldn't know of any site that has clips of just turns.
re: Guide to a Perfect Turn!
By candianteachermember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 638, member since Mon Oct 17, 2005
On Tue Feb 14, 2006 03:31 PM
This should be made a sticky. Nicely explained.
Good explanation
By natdancer1 Comments: 49, member since Sun Feb 05, 2006
On Tue Feb 14, 2006 04:45 PM
That was really helpful, in dance class, we always tell each other that we are supposed to do when we are turning, instead what not to do, because we'll start thinking of what not to do and we'll end up doing it. It really works, if you think about what we are supposed to do.
re: Guide to a Perfect Turn!
By chaine_boimember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 729, member since Wed Mar 30, 2005
On Tue Feb 14, 2006 11:39 PM
Cool. It's a sticky :). Just a note on the first stamp turn: when you stamp, the other leg is behind you in arabesque, 3 inches off the ground, and when you step to fifth, you turn at the same time. Hence the name "stamp-turn".

And for anyone who doesn't know, to get to shortened first: take your arms to jazz first closed (hands on hips, fingers together). Then bring the hands straight out about five inches forward. The hands are about 1 inch apart, and the palms should be angled towards your neck/face area. Also, you can take your hands up to parallel your chest area (palms angled facing your chest).
re: Guide to a Perfect Turn!
By VIMOTPP Comments: 21, member since Sun Jan 29, 2006
On Wed Feb 15, 2006 02:17 AM
That was awesome! Thanks for putting that up!
re: Guide to a Perfect Turn!
By jazzy_lady Comments: 70, member since Fri Feb 17, 2006
On Fri Feb 17, 2006 05:57 PM
Edited by jazzy_lady (151778) on 2006-02-17 17:58:50 Had to fix my smiley.
Oh, wow! Thank you so much. I think I might just try those turn excercises at the barre. Hold on...*runs to barre, plie releve...* No, serioulsy. I have a triple on one side, and a sometimes wobbly double on the other side. Thanks so much. My dance teacher is always saying "A Dancer is no one sided." And believe me, she firmly believes in that. Your guide was really helpful. Thanks again. ;)
re: Guide to a Perfect Turn!
By chaine_boimember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 729, member since Wed Mar 30, 2005
On Fri Feb 17, 2006 10:54 PM
No problem. I forgot to add another thing. If anyone is finding fouette turns hard, you probably might want to practice the legs at the bar (without the turn). Then you can do them in the center without turning. When you are comfortable with the fouette motion, then you can try with the turn. Remember to keep your legs turned out in a fouette turn and a la seconde turn.
re: Guide to a Perfect Turn!
By BalletSlippers29member has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 244, member since Sun Jan 15, 2006
On Sat Feb 18, 2006 05:19 PM
Thank You So Much! Turns are my weakness...going to go practice.
re: Guide to a Perfect Turn!
By TheStunningOne Comments: 53, member since Sat Feb 11, 2006
On Sun Feb 19, 2006 10:38 AM
thanks for the tips because I do need them!
re: Guide to a Perfect Turn!
By i_LuV_2_dAnCe67member has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 60, member since Thu Jul 21, 2005
On Mon Feb 20, 2006 12:11 AM
Thanks heaps, I really do need help with turns, you helped me alot

*Jessica*
re: Guide to a Perfect Turn!
By LiViNg_It_Up_09 Comments: 7, member since Sun Jan 08, 2006
On Tue Feb 21, 2006 08:06 PM
you are my hero! thanks so much because ive been having trouble with my double attitude turns for the LONGEST time. the tips will probably get me going in no time. thanks a bunch!
re: Guide to a Perfect Turn!
By bubbles23 Comments: 815, member since Sun Jul 17, 2005
On Thu Feb 23, 2006 03:47 PM
thanks so much! im not great at turns and this will help!
re: Guide to a Perfect Turn!
By DanceDenDancer Comments: 28, member since Tue Feb 28, 2006
On Tue Feb 28, 2006 05:10 PM
OMG!!! Thank you so much I'll take your advice with the abs!! Can you explain what a stamp turn is please?
re: Guide to a Perfect Turn!
By chaine_boimember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 729, member since Wed Mar 30, 2005
On Tue Feb 28, 2006 05:18 PM
Edited by chaine_boi (127047) on 2006-02-28 17:20:28
I just learned another stamp turn.

Spot to the side:

Step with your right leg into classical second demi-plie, your body faces the front. Then step with your left leg so you are in a chaine. Try a fan kick or tilt kick out of it (standing on your left leg). And practice them to both sides.

Edit: to the above poster. There are three variations of a stamp turn. Two are listed in the sticky, and one is described right above me.
re: Guide to a Perfect Turn!
By Pink9D12 Comments: 35, member since Tue Feb 28, 2006
On Tue Mar 07, 2006 09:42 PM
Removed by Theresa (28613) on 2006-03-09 21:45:41 netspeak
thanx, that will really come in handy!!! :]
re: Guide to a Perfect Turn!
By CHRISSY4 Comments: 20, member since Wed Mar 08, 2006
On Wed Mar 08, 2006 01:51 PM
thanks it was helpful
re: Guide to a Perfect Turn!
By dancetosurvivemember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 466, member since Sat Mar 11, 2006
On Sat Mar 11, 2006 09:36 PM
helpful;!! 2 thumbs up!
re: Guide to a Perfect Turn!
By xXxstumblexXx Comments: 15, member since Sun Jan 08, 2006
On Mon Mar 13, 2006 07:53 PM
hey thanx for that i had a heap of trouble under standing what u were saying but when i got up and tried it i figerd out what u ment thanx anyway!
singing
By amber15172003 Comments: 20, member since Mon Mar 13, 2006
On Mon Apr 17, 2006 01:16 PM
i need help on my turns can someone please help me. please email me some tips at amber15172003@yahoo.com or just post it here or post it on myspace. my screen name is amberfromtexas.
love,amber thanx
re: Guide to a Perfect Turn!
By loey Comments: 27, member since Tue Apr 18, 2006
On Tue Apr 18, 2006 07:13 PM
thank you!
re: Guide to a Perfect Turn!
By MissAshleymember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 8231, member since Sun Sep 18, 2005
On Wed Apr 19, 2006 11:23 AM
Great job! i really need help on making my jazz turns more sharp or quick. These may help .... ♥
re: Guide to a Perfect Turn!
By Sparkle_Dancermember has saluted, click to view salute photos Comments: 1585, member since Thu Apr 28, 2005
On Fri Apr 21, 2006 02:01 PM
thanks!
re: Guide to a Perfect Turn!
By StarstruckDncr Comments: 200, member since Wed Mar 01, 2006
On Wed Apr 26, 2006 06:04 PM
Wow, Karma for you. This helped me alot. I need to tone up my stomach!
~Chelsea~
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