1). PREPARATION-as far as I'm concerned, if you don't have good preparation, you're dead in the water. I like to have a comfortable 4th position; with either ballet turn-out or a natural turn out for jazz or lyrical. Unlike in a ballet preparation, I DO NOT cross my fourth (meaning my right toes DO NOT line up with my left heel). I like to have a box, or square preparation that feels comfortable and stable. Usually the right balle of my foot lines up with the left instep (creating a wide 3rd position almost). Weight should be evenly distributed between BOTH feet-this is a contested issue. Some people will have you cheat your weight slightly forward to the front foot to eliminate full weight transfer into the pirouette-which I understand......but to me it's kinda cheating. Plus I think dancers appreciate feeling stable prior to turning and sitting in the middle of both feet accomplishes this. I prepare my arms in ballet 3rd position in opposition. The rounded arms help prepare the dancer to feel the rounded-ness needed in turns. The position of the feet and position of the arms set the dancer up for a successful turn.
2). PLIE-Love me some plie. Seriously. I feel like a good plie will carry a dancer FAR! I love to use plie and think that those with short Achilles or poor plie are cursed-sorry :( I am thankful I do NOT fall into the later group. It's very important for a strong, even plie for a successful pirouette. The plie is your "gas in the tank" so to speak. A weak plie=a weak turn. A plie is potential energy (for you physics peeps). I like a plie that hovers lower than a demi-plie, just slightly. More energy, more turns (not entirely true....but I'll get to that in a sec). Dancers should feel comfortable with the position of the feet, arms and depth of plie. Nothing about this moment should feel awkward, uncomfortable or unstable.
3). THINK UP-when working on stability and multiple turns I NEVER tell my kids to think "around" or think "spinning". By having them work on turns, their brains are already firing signals to their body to turn-albeit subconsciously. DO NOT REINFORCE THE IDEA OF SPINNING! You will end up with dancers on the floor and wobbly pirouettes that resemble tops not dancers :) By telling students to spin, dancers automatically break their body into segments along the horizontal plane, forcing the body to work against itself with different parts turning at different times! Not efficient. "Thinking up" is 2-fold. One, by thinking up, the student automatically works towards putting their weight straight up and down, on top of the supporting leg. Secondly, by thinking up, the dancer is aiming to work in a vertical line from supporting foot/leg to head, matching up shoulders to ribs to hips. This enforces proper alignment on the vertical plane. Proper alignment-"stacking"-improves balance, which allows students to balance longer and therefore accomplish multiple turns!!!!
4). FLOAT-while I admit you need power to turn more than once (remember power comes from the plie not the force of your turn), senior students often have difficulty accomplishing turns because they are working against themselves. I have found that when attempting to complete a difficult turn sequence/multiple pirouettes, students automatically put undo stress and tension in their bodies, making their bodies compact-squishing them like a slinky down to the floor, instead of thinking compact-like tight, turning inside a paper towel roll, which reinforces the 'up' feeling. By pushing the body down to the floor, shoulder up, no neck, tension, no spotting, the students easily fall out of the turn. Enforcing the feeling of "floating around" the pirouette eliminate unnecessary tensions, particularly in the upper torso, shoulders & neck. This allows a proper spot to happen naturally and a feel of ease in the dancer. A successfully completed pirouette should feel 'easy' with relative tension (only in feet and legs with a bit in the arms). Students will look and feel different if you try this 'float' technique....it also wakes a lot of students up to the ease of turning-I've seen SO MANY light bulbs go off teaching this technique.
Those are my 4 main steps. A couple other helpful tips include:
Dancing faces you towards Heaven, whichever direction you turn. ~Terri Guillemets
OK that's enough about turns! Hopefully you and your students will benefit from these tips. Even if you're a "kitchen ballerina", these are pretty straight forward, anatomical and logical concepts. Test them out next time you're whipping up your favourite meal and impress your kids and/or spouse!!!!
Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room. ~Kurt Vonnegut