Dancer to Dancer

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

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