I have strong pirouettes on pointe, but as soon as I try fouettés, I’m a mess. I can’t seem to do more than a few without falling out of my turns. What can I do to get my fouettés under control? —Tess
In doing fouettés, the pirouette is only part of the equation. If any of the other components—the repeated relevés, the leg’s whipping action, the upper body coordination—are off, you’ll have trouble no matter how well you turn. The key is to identify where the problem is, and sometimes that means going back to basics.
If leg strength is your issue, you’ll need to gradually build stamina. At my school, we first practiced 32 pirouettes en dehors from fifth. Once we had those under control, we advanced to consecutive pirouettes on one leg, leaving the foot in retiré instead of coming down to fifth in between. Not only does this help strengthen your standing leg, but it also forces you to use your plié and your core. Once you can execute these comfortably, it’s easier to move on to fouettés.
Your problem may also be stemming from your hips. It’s crucial that they remain level as you rond de jambe the working leg. If you hike the hip or lift the leg from the thigh, you’ll throw off your alignment and start struggling. Practice the rond de jambe to relevé retiré without the turn, keeping the hips square and the leg slightly below 90 degrees. Feel how the turnout—and the fouetté’s force—comes from underneath the leg. Once you feel stable, add the turns, remembering to plié fully in between. Keep the arms under control, pressing the shoulders down and closing to first as the leg comes into passé.