The Fear of Falling

iStock_000003640152XSmall“How do I get over the fear of falling when I do a pirouette on pointe?” one of my students asked recently.

I rode horses a lot as a kid.  And, since I loved to ride bareback, I fell often.  The ground is a long way down from the back of a horse.  Once you get used to falling off a horse, falling out of a lift with a partner or falling out of a pirouette is not so frightening.

But it is in our nature to fear falling.  The prospect of falling causes tension, and tension will REALLY throw off your pirouette.  And then you probably will fall!

Some suggestions:

  1. When you are on pointe, you are taller, farther from the ground.  Get used to that feeling by doing lots of releve’ with a 2-count balance on each one.
  2. When turning on pointe, take your preparation from 5th.  You have less power (but on pointe, you need less), and you will be more centered in your releve’.
  3. Start with a few releve’ passe’ from 5th, then do just a 1/4 turn.  Do that until you are bored with it.
  4. Then graduate to a 1/2 turn and practice until it is boringly easy.  Then to 3/4, and finally to a whole turn.  You can continue on to 1 1/4, 1 1/2, etc.  I learned to do triple pirouettes on pointe by practicing this way.
  5. If you still can’t do a 1/4 turn on pointe, check a few things:  Can you balance for one whole second on pointe in pirouette position?  (you must.)  Are you using too much force to get around?  (don’t!)  Are you holding your arms in a good round first position?  (do.)  Are you “winding up” on your preparation? (don’t.)  Are you lifting your working hip when you pick up your foot? (try using a lower passe’ for a while.)
  6. If you work on all the details and still can’t do a 1/4 turn, have your teacher check your form.  Pirouettes are very delicate.  A stuffy head can throw them off!

Good luck, and Happy Turns to You!