Photo by Erin Baiano

4 Strengthening Exercises for Flawless Pirouettes

If there's one thing every dancer is always working on, it's her pirouette. It's no secret that this skill takes years of honing and practice. But in addition to solid technique, perfect pirouettes require a lot of strength. We turned to Roman Zhurbin, soloist with American Ballet Theatre and owner of Roman Empire Fitness, for a breakdown of the best ways to strengthen the muscles used in a pirouette.


All photography by Erin Baiano. Hair and makeup by Angela Huff for Mark Edward Inc. Modeled by Ava Desiderio.

TheraBand Relevés

Roman's Note: "This exercise strengthens your calves, which are crucial in keeping you up on relevé during a pirouette."

1. Begin standing parallel to the barre, holding it with your right hand. Slightly bend your right knee and keep your left leg straight but not hyperextended, with your left foot planted firmly on the ground and your hips level. Ask a friend or teacher to kneel in front of you and wrap your TheraBand around your left leg, so it hits just above the back of your knee. Have them pull it tightly towards them.

TheraBand Anti-Rotation Press

Roman's Note: "This exercise helps strengthen your lats, which keep you stabilized as you're turning."

1. Tie your TheraBand to the barre, or have a friend or teacher hold it. Hold the two loose ends of the TheraBand and lowly take a few steps to the side, so that tension builds in the band until it's entirely straight. Place your feet a little more than shoulder-width apart.

Single-Leg Bridges

Roman's Note: "This exercise helps strengthen your hamstrings and glutes. If you release your glutes when you're turning, you'll fall out of your pirouettes."

1. Begin on your back with your legs hip-width apart, your knees bent, and your feet planted firmly on the ground. Keep your arms by your sides, with your palms facing down.

Exercise-Ball Transfer

Roman's Note: "This exercise is a killer abdominal workout. A strong core keeps you aligned and stable during a pirouette."

1. Begin on your back with your knees bent and your feet planted firmly on the ground. Place an exercise ball between your lower legs, gripping it with your ankles. Extend your arms straight up to the ceiling.



A version of this story appeared in the Summer 2019 issue of Dance Spirit with the title "Pirouette Perfectors."

Latest Posts


Getty Images

How Gorgeous Is Our New Site?

Hey. Hi there. Hello. We notice you, noticing us.

What's that you say? We seem more…glamorous than usual?

Why yes, thank you! We DID have a glow-up.

Welcome to the new dancespirit.com. Our redesigned site is full of all the same great Dance Spirit content you love—but now it's delivered in an even more beautiful, reader-friendly package.

Take a look around. Stay a while. We're excited for you to get to know the new-and-improved us a little better.

A young Juliet Doherty performing as Clara in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular (Gene Schiavone, courtesy Doherty)

"My First Job": Six Dance Icons on the Gigs that Helped Them Break into the Industry

Nowadays, you know them today for their flawless work and enviable resumés. But today's industry heavy-hitters were once newbies hoping for their big breaks. A few of our idols took a trip down memory lane to look back on their first gigs—and how they changed everything.

Keep Reading

There’s Still No Oscar for Best Choreography, So We’re Giving Out Our Own Award—with the Help of Your Votes

2019's movies featured some truly fantastic dancing, thanks to the hard work of many talented choreographers. But you won't see any of those brilliant artists recognized at the Academy Awards. And we're (still) not OK with that.

So we're taking matters into our own jazz hands.

On February 7—just before the Oscars ceremony—we'll present a Dance Spirit award for the best movie choreography of 2019. With your help, we've narrowed the field to seven choreographers, artists whose moves electrified some of the most critically-acclaimed films of the year.

Check out our nominations for best choreography below, and vote for the choreographer you think deserves the honor. (You can vote once a day through February 6.) Haven't seen some of the nominated movies? Click here for a look at each one's choreography.

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search