Foolproof Pirouette Tricks from a Turning Goddess

Carly Blaney (via Blaney's Instagram)

It's no secret that "So You Think You Can Dance" alum Carly Blaney—who's now Sidekick program director for 24 Seven Dance Convention, and who recently performed at the Grammys—can turn for days. We needed to know just how she does it. So we caught up with the pirouette princess to find out her tricks for becoming #turngoals. Give them a try!


Wes Klain Photography (courtesy Blaney)

The Tricks

1. When you prepare for a turn, move your right arm (or left arm if you're doing a left pirouette) into second position like you're wiping off a dinner table, and plié deeper. As you use resistance to swipe your arm across the invisible table, your lats are forced to engage, adding stability and strength to the core of your body.

2. As you turn, pull your left arm (or right arm) in with intention. Quickly pulling this second arm in adds the proper amount of momentum without forcing your turn into a whirlwind that will pull you off balance.

3. Squeeze your belly button into your spine like you have to go to the bathroom (or you're wearing mom jeans). That will pull your tailbone down, making your body more compact—and the more compact you make yourself, the more turns you'll be able to do.

4. Focus on pulling up rather than making a circle. As you lift toward the sky while simultaneously pushing your standing leg into the ground, you'll find a balancing sweet spot to keep you turning.

5. Use your spot effectively. Spotting is the final piece of the puzzle—it allows all of these other tricks to work. If your spot is inconsistent, too slow, or too quick, it'll be difficult to save your turns. Make sure your eyes don't wander away from your chosen focal point.

Carly Blaney performing at the 2017 Grammys (via Blaney's Instagram)

The Work

Tricks aside, Blaney says it's important to remember that turning is a skill you develop over time. "Turns take work and practice," she says. "Don't try to go for eight your first time. Start with perfecting a single, and then move from there."

Her Favorite Turning Passage

Two à la seconde turns into a bunch of pirouettes that slowly pull down into skater turns with a hold at the end. (Check out this clip from one of her "SYTYCD" solos to see exactly what she's talking about.)

Her Proudest Turning Moment

"When I tried out for Arizona State's dance team, I auditioned on a very slippery gym floor," Blaney says. "At one point, they had us go across the floor and improv. I decided to do a turn, and I honestly think it was the most turns I've ever done because it was just that slippery. I remember being like, 'Oh my gosh! I actually did pretty well there!' It was the best."

Via Blaney's Instagram

Dancer to Dancer
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)

Congratulations to Dance Spirit's 2019 Cover Model Search finalists: Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland! One of them will win a spot on Dance Spirit's Fall 2019 cover. Learn more about the dancers on their profile pages, and then vote for your favorite below. You can vote once a day now through July 15.

We also want you to get social! We'll be factoring social media likes and shares into our final tallies. Be sure to show your favorite finalist some love on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, sharing their profile pages and using the hashtag #DanceSpiritCMS.

Cover Model Search
Photo by Erin Baiano

Imagine attending American Ballet Theatre's prestigious NYC summer intensive, training among classical ballet legends. Imagine taking the stage at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals, competing against some of the country's best contemporary dancers. Now, imagine doing both—at the same time.

Welcome to Madison Brown's world. This summer, she's in her third year as a National Training Scholar with ABT, while also competing for NYCDA's Teen Outstanding Dancer title. (She's already won Outstanding Dancer in the Mini and Junior categories.) The logistics are complicated—ABT's five-week intensive overlaps with the weeklong NYCDA Nationals, which translates to a lot of cabs back and forth across Manhattan—but Maddie is committed to making the most of each opportunity. "I love contemporary and ballet equally," she says. "While I'm able to do both, I want to do as much as I can."

Maddie has an expressive face, endless extensions, and a quiet command of the stage. She dances with remarkable maturity—a trait noted by none other than Jennifer Lopez, one of the judges on NBC's "World of Dance," on which Maddie competed in Season 2. Although Maddie didn't take home the show's top prize, she was proud to be the youngest remaining soloist when she was eliminated, and saw the whole experience as an opportunity to grow. After all, she's just getting started. Oh, that's right—did we mention Maddie's only 14?

Keep Reading Show less
Cover Story
Corbin Bleu in rehearsal for "Kiss Me, Kate" (Jenny Anderson, courtesy Roundabout Theatre Company)

If you're a hardcore Broadway baby, today is the worst Sunday of the year. Why, you ask? The Tony Awards were last Sunday, so basically there's nothing to look forward to in life anymore—no James Corden being James Corden, no teary acceptance speeches from newly minted stars, no thrilling excerpts from the hottest new shows. Oh yeah, and there are 50 more Sundays to go before our humdrum lives are once again blessed with the next annual iteration of Broadway's biggest night.

Keep Reading Show less
Musical Theater

Video

mailbox

Get Dance Spirit in your inbox

Giveaways