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Misty Copeland photographed by Jayme Thornton.

Nobody has a "perfect" performance every time they go onstage—not even the dancers at American Ballet Theatre. Despite knowing this, we tend to beat ourselves up enough over the tiniest of slip ups without having someone else pointing out our errors, too.

But imagine if your mistake was posted on YouTube for the whole world to see. That's exactly what happened to ABT principal Misty Copeland when a less-than-flattering clip of her performing the infamous fouetté turns in Swan Lake was shared on YouTube. Rather than report the video as offensive and pretend it never happened (like we would have done), Copeland wrote a compelling response on Instagram, linking to the video herself.


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A beautiful pirouette is one of ballet's most elusive elements. Sometimes you float through multiple rotations and sometimes you can hardly balance on one leg. Here are some of our best tips for nailing your turns, every time.

  1. Go back to basics. Make sure you've mastered the fundamentals of correct alignment before you go for multiple rotations.
  2. Know that there's more than one right way to do it. Struggling to adjust to Balanchine-style pirouettes? Focus on shifting the majority of your weight forward over your front foot and extend your arms to find a long position.
  3. Use positive thinking. Getting over the fear of turning and making yourself stay up on pointe to finish your pirouette is paramount to success.
  4. Up the ante. Do you fall apart during fouettés? Focus on your coordination and build stamina in your standing leg.
  5. Get scientific. Understanding the physics of how pirouettes work can help you conceptualize ways to adjust your technique. This TEDx talk breaks down the physics of a fouetté into easily understandable terms:

Happy turning!

For more news on all things ballet, don’t miss a single issue.

 

Fouettés are mysterious. When they're on, they create a practically transcendental relationship between gravity and alignment, making everything feel effortless. But when they're off, they're way off. It can feel like you don't know how to stand up, let alone turn.

There are a million different aspects of your technique to keep in mind, and even more ways to visualize a successful fouetté sequence. But when was the last time you considered the science behind the step?

This TEDx talk gets into the nitty-gritty of force, momentum and torque, explaining how your plié, legs and arms work together to sustain the turn. Sure, the narrator gives a cringe-worthy pronunciation of fouetté, but the clear explanation of angular momentum might be just what you need to pull in for that triple.

Check it out below!

 

For more news on all things ballet, don’t miss a single issue.

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