Carly Blaney (via Blaney's Instagram)

Foolproof Pirouette Tricks from a Turning Goddess

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

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A Letter from the Editor in Chief

Hi, dance friends. It is a strange time to be a person in the world, and an especially strange time to be a dancer. As the dance community faces the coronavirus crisis, a lot of you are coping with closed studios, canceled performances and competitions, and a general sense of anxiety about how your world will look going forward.

Yes, dancers are super resilient, and there's been a lot of inspiring community-building happening. #LivingRoomDances and Instagram dance parties and virtual ballet classes with the pros are wonderful. Dance can, and should, be a bright spot in the darkness. But that weird, empty feeling you have? It might be grief. The loss of the certainty of daily class, the loss of the promise of that big end-of-year performance—that's real. The dance studio has always been a safe place; it's especially hard not to have that outlet now, when you need it most.

We're here for you. We—and our friends at Dance Magazine, Pointe, Dance Teacher, The Dance Edit, and Dance Business Weekly—are doing our best to document the hurdles facing the dance industry, and to advocate for dancers in need. We're developing more online content that will help you maintain and improve your technique while you're at home, and process the mental and emotional fallout of all this upheaval. (You can keep up with the latest stories here.) And we're still making our print magazine. We have issues planned and shot, full of great dance stories and beautiful photos. We're not going anywhere.

We want to hear from you. Talk to us. Or dance to us. Or both. We won't stop moving, and you shouldn't, either.

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