The Types of Pirouettes

By Charong Chow ; Updated September 15, 2017
Ballet dancers go through years of training to become professional dancers.

Ballet is one of the strictest forms of dance with moves developed from hundreds of years of dance history. Ballet was descended from court dancing in Renaissance Italy, according to Northeastern University. One important ballet move is called the pirouette, where the dancer spins around in one complete turn using only one foot. It is a ballet move that utilizes great skill and several types of pirouettes exist.

Sur le Cou-de-pied

Sur le Cou-de-pied means "on the neck of the foot" in French. This pirouette starts with one foot resting between the ankle and base of the calf. That foot is then raised to turn inward toward the supporting leg for the spin. In all pirouettes the body is completely centered over the supporting leg. The back is erect and hips and shoulders are aligned.

Attitude

En attitude is a ballet position derived by Carlo Blasis from a statue of Mercury by Giovanni da Bologna, according to the American Ballet Theatre. One leg is lifted behind the dancer, while the other leg is supporting the body. The lifted leg is bent at a 90 degree angle. One arm is curved above the head, while the other arm is extended to the side. A pirouette from this position would start with the leg lifted behind and then the spin would take place with the lifted leg over the supporting leg.

Arabesque

En arabesque is when the dancer has one leg extended behind with the other leg supporting at a right angle to the floor. The supporting leg can be straight or in a demi-plie, which is when the knee is half bent. The arms are in front and behind the body in right angles to the supporting standing leg. A pirouette from this position would be formed as the extended leg spins with the other leg supporting.

A la seconde

A la seconde is the second position, which is where the feet are one foot apart with the balls of the feet completely turned out. The pirouette a la second is usually danced by male dancers. The dancer spins with the supporting leg in this turned out position and it is a move that uses great strength.

About the Author

Charong Chow has been writing professionally since 1995. Her work has appeared in magazines such as "Zing" and "Ocean Drive." Chow graduated from the University of Miami with a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy. She also received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the California Institute of the Arts.