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ABT Principal Herman Cornejo on Mastering Double Tour en l'Air

Herman Cornejo in "La Bayadere." Photo by Gene Schiavone, Courtesy American Ballet Theatre.

A double tour, says American Ballet Theatre principal Herman Cornejo, "is the step that defines a male dancer." Here, he shares his thoughts on mastering this necessary trick.

Don't anticipate: "The takeoff is hard," Herman Cornejo acknowledges. "You want to take all your force around, and that twists your back to the side and your fifth out of place." Instead, the impulse for the rotations comes from the bottom of the plié. "Be calm to start. Prepare to a relevé, plié, and the moment the heels touch down, then you take the force."

Use your glutes: A common error Cornejo sees is "sticking your butt out and your chest forward in plié so that you're not on top of your hips. You'll never make it to the other side!" Your glutes, he adds, are "so powerful that when you engage them, it really makes a difference."


Cornejo in a double tour en l'air. Photo Courtesy Cornejo.


Be square in the air: "Take your back around with both sides even, on the same vertical axis." It helps to feel your arms pressing towards you in first position. And, Cornejo specifies, "be careful they don't go over your shoulders. It's lower."

Do it every day: "Double tour is a step you should do like tendus—always." If the teacher doesn't give tours in class, stay and work on your own. "I practice with a triple, to then do a perfect double onstage."

Don't expect perfection: "It never goes as planned," Cornejo points out, "so you can't be stiff. You always need a little room to
adjust."

Bonus Tips:

  • Practice your takeoff and landing plié with your back against a wall. "That's the position you need: a straight line from your heel to your shoulders, and your back flat. Plié from your hips, just open."
  • Instead of jumping and then turning, cross your back foot front right from the beginning," says Cornejo. This creates the first rotation from takeoff, on the way up. "Then the second turn will be on the peak of the jump. It's more exciting."
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