Dear Katie: I Can't Turn!

October 24, 2016

In our “Dear Katie” series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email [email protected] for a chance to be featured!

Dear Katie,

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?


Dear Natalie,

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!