In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured!
I can't turn, and it's TERRIBLE. I've tried all the usual tricks—holding my core, making sure my spotting is strong, etc.—but nothing's helped. At this point, I feel like I have a mental block that's keeping me from "getting" pirouettes. How can I find my inner turner?
I am so sorry you're struggling with your turns! But you're not alone. The first thing to remember is that turning is 90 percent mental. Once you can get over that hurdle, your turns will improve. Start with some positive thinking. The worst that can happen is that you just don't get around. It's OK! You'll get there. So, start by saying "I only have to go up, turn twice and come down." I had a teacher at School of American Ballet who used to say "Don't panic. Just plié." And he was right! The other thing that can help is counting backwards. If you're doing a double, say in your head "two, one, down" as you turn. This tells your brain that you're going to do two instead of that you'll maybe do two. Also be sure to actually finish. I think people anticipate the landing so much that they end up doing only one and a half turns. Let yourself finish the turn, and then come down. Just keep practicing!
(From left) Darriel Johnakin, Diego Pasillas, and Emma Sutherland (all photos by Erin Baiano)
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.
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Isabella Boylston in "The Bright Stream" (Rosalie O'Connor, courtesy American Ballet Theatre)
Beloved by ballet fans for her lucid technique and onstage effervescence, by her Instagram followers for the deftly curated photos and videos she shares of her glamorous life, and by fangirl Jennifer Garner for all of the above, American Ballet Theatre principal Isabella Boylston is one of the rare ballet stars who's achieved mainstream fame. A native of Sun Valley, ID, Boylston trained at the Academy of Colorado Ballet and the Harid Conservatory before joining the ABT Studio Company in 2005. She entered the main company as an apprentice in 2006, and attained principal status in 2014. In addition to her successes with ABT, where she dances nearly every major ballerina role, Boylston has served as artistic director of the annual Ballet Sun Valley Festival, which brings high-level performances and classes to her hometown. And speaking of famous Jennifers: Boylston recently appeared as Jennifer Lawrence's dance double in the film Red Sparrow. Catch her onstage with ABT as Manon, Odette/Odile, and Princess Aurora during the company's Metropolitan Opera House season this summer in NYC. —Margaret Fuhrer