Pirouette Fundamentals

West Coast Swing Online Spins & Turns

Pirouettes are spins that occur entirely on one leg. In WCS, the famous pot-stir spin is a pirouette in which the turn is started by the follower and then powered by the leader. Both leaders and followers use pirouettes for stationary turns, such as spinning during an anchor. This drill is intended to focus on the mechanics of pirouettes by beginning with quarter turns. Your goal is to execute a clean, controlled turn. Most beginners try to spin too much, too fast. By focusing on a small rotation, you will develop the technique needed to stabilize a faster turn or a turn with greater rotation.

The Drill: Start with your feet in open third position and your arms in open position, matching the angle of your feet. Tighten your core and lift your chest so that you have a solid, upright posture. As you transfer your weight to the three-toe base of your forward foot, rotate your core slightly in the opposite direction in order to prep your spin.

To begin the spin, do three things simultaneously. First, collect your free foot underneath the supporting leg, either in closed third or with the free foot touching the ankle of the supporting leg. Second, unwind from your core. Third, bring your arms into closed position by bringing the back arm to the front arm.

You should be able to easily execute a quarter turn—in fact, most people will struggle with having too much power. Your goal is to run out of juice so that your body naturally stops after a quarter rotation. Remain balanced on the three-toe base of your supporting leg in order to ensure that you aren’t falling out of the turn.

Be sure to practice turning both ways! After you can control a quarter turn, you can extend the drill to doing half turns, three quarter turns, etc.

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