What Is Pivoting in Dancing?

Pivot turns are elementary dance steps involving turning on one or both feet, providing the anchor for the rotation, called the pivot. These sorts of rotations are utilized in many different dances and are an important basic movement in dance. This movement is so fundamental to dance that nearly all cultures have developed at least one dance that utilizes pivoting in one way or another.

  1. Pivot Turns in General

    • A pivot turn begins with a pivot, the anchoring foot or feet remain on the ground for the duration of the turn. The body turns either clockwise or counterclockwise around the pivot, until the desired movement is complete. In this way, pivoting is a partial or complete rotation of the body around either a single foot, or both feet together.

    Pivoting in Ballet

    • Specific ballet movements involving pivoting include "chainés," "pirouettes" and "fouettés." A chainé is a series of turns on both feet, with the pivot, or anchoring foot, changing from foot to foot rapidly and almost imperceptibly. A pirouette is a full turn in place, on one foot. Experienced ballet dancers can perform multiple pirouettes in continuous revolution. A fouetté is a particularly theatrical form of pirouette, where the raised leg whips out with each turn of the body. According to Andrée Grau, author of "Eyewitness Dance," one ballerina, Pierina Legnani, performed 32 fouettés in her role as Odette in "Swan Lake," setting the record for the most turns in a ballet.

    Pivot Turns in Ballroom Dance

    • A pivot turn in ballroom dance involves both partners turning in such a way that, without holding on to each other for anchoring, they would lose their circular momentum and break the movement. In "Physics and the Art of Dance," Kenneth Laws describes this image as "that of a body being held in a path or pose from which it would like to break away."

    Pivot Turns in Ethnic Dance

    • Pivoting is heavily utilized in a variety of ethnic dances. According to Infobase Publishing's "World of Dance" series of books, pivot turns can be found in Native American dance, African dance, Latin and Caribbean dance, Middle Eastern dance, and a variety of Asian dances. This elementary movement is important to dance all over the world.

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  • "World of Dance: Ballet (Second Edition)"; Robin Rinaldi; 2010
  • "Eyewitness Dance"; Andrée Grau; 2005
  • "Physics and the Art of Dance: Understanding Movement"; Kenneth Laws; 2002
  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

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