Beloved pop-star and dancer extraordinaire Britney Spears recently posted a video on Instagram doing fouetté turns. Although she definitely earns an A+ for effort, there’s room for improvement. And no hard feelings, Brit, even the most advanced dancers struggle with nailing these complicated turns.
“Fouetté turns are considered to many the hardest step in the ballet vocabulary,” says Lisa Rumbauskas, an ABT-certified teacher at West End Academy of Dance. “However, with proper alignment and the help of physics, they can be much easier to achieve than they appear,” she adds.
Here, Rumbaukas breaks down the positions necessary to whip off these tricky turns.
Always start teaching fouetté turns at the barre. Have students hold the barre with one hand and prepare by taking plié in 5th position.
From there, retiré in relevé with the arm in fifth en avant.
Plié extending the leg devant while keeping the arm in fifth en avant.
Relevé while simultaneously doing rond de jambe to bring the leg à la seconde (carrying the arm à la seconde at the same time).
Finally, relevé and beat the foot back front (in passé position) while bringing the arm back to fifth en avant.
Begin by repeating these steps without turning. Once the students have the correct alignment and action, they can add the rotation.
Tips to stress are the importance of the arm and leg coordination, proper pelvic placement (turned out leg in à la seconde without lifting the hip), keeping the knee side as you beat the foot back-front, and spotting the head.
Once students are ready, you can move to the center. Without the guidance of the barre, remind them to be consistent with where they plié devant and the action of their second arm coming in to center.
Voilà! Fouetté turns!
And if you missed Britney’s enthusiastic attempt, see below, as well as the advice from other dance teachers.