A Turnboard is a little square arched device that is used to improve turns. They have a soft pad on top of them for the comfort of the foot. It is specifically designed to help you with spotting, arms placing and balance. It is a good way to lose fear of doing multiple turns and it is also a lot of fun!
Turns are a huge part of dancing. Every day, I open my Instagram I see all these amazing dancers doing amazing turns, changing arms and leg position and it looks so effortless, you may wonder how do even they do this. It’s crazy!
Training your turns can be hard but it all comes down to practice and a set of guidelines that you should follow. A turnboard is a perfect tool to help you with that.
How can the Turnboard help your with your Turns
Everyone that dances wants to have good turns, at first it can be a little scary but once you get then hang of it actually becomes fun. The use of Turnboards is very popular in Jazz, Ballet and Ice Skating but they are also becoming a thing among Hip Hop dancers.
There are many kinds of turns, and the difficulty of them will vary depending on your natural ability and also on the kind of turns. In my case, I find easier to turn when my supporting leg is the left one and it is a lot more difficult when I have to make a turn to the other side!
Despite the challenges that come from turning, there are some variables that are common to all different turns, and you can improve all of them by using a Turnboard
- Spotting: In order to make multiple turns, you need to spot at one point so you don’t get dizzy and lose control over your body. You should practice this to the right and the left side.
- Upper body placement: As you practice your turns you will find that you need to pull up from your center up, while still keeping your shoulders down.
- Arms position: Having your arms in a fixed organic position will help you with your turns. As you practice and feel more comfortable you will find that it is also possible to gradually change the position of your arms while still having control over your turns.
- Changing leg positions: Combining different turns can be difficult but not impossible if you practice. Practicing changing positions on a Turnboard will help you grasp the feeling that you need in order to make it on the stage without any help.
- Turn speed: Some positions will allow you to turn at a higher speed and other won’t. You will notice this effect when going from a “wide” position – attitude – to a “smaller” one like coup de pied. This can be scary at first because you actually start turning faster. Don’t worry, it’s just physics that makes this happen. Practicing with a Turnboard will help you get used to the changes of speed in your turns.
How to use a Turnboard
As you practice more and more you will find the best way for you to use the Turnboard properly. You will find that will small adjustments in your body you will improve fast but it can be scary at the beginning. Don’t worry, it will be less and less scary as you practice and gain more confidence on the Turnboard!
You want to start slow. In the beginning it can feel like ice-skating but don’t be afraid. If you are, maybe you can practice in front of a barre so you can stop turning by gently placing your arms in the barre.
Start by placing your supporting foot on the center of the cushion, make sure that it is not too in the front and not to in the back because that would make you lose stability and fall. Try to keep your balance in your desire positions before turning.
Place your arms and legs in the same position as you would for a normal pirouette. The position can be open like in a Ballet turn, or closed like in a Jazz turn. After that, just make a small movement to the opposite direction of your turn to gain momentum (not too much, unless you are prepared to make several turns!), push the floor and turn!
To keep turning remember to spot and place your upper body and arms properly.
My advice is to start slow, with one or two turns until you gain more confidence with your turns and start doing more and more! Once you start feeling confident, you can also try your turns in relevé!
The Turnboard works best at a wooden floor or any floor that resembles a studio floor. If you have a tile floor – like me- it can make the whole process more slippery and if you have a carpeted floor the Turnboard will get stuck and won’t spin!
If you don’t have this kind of floor, maybe you would want to consider getting a Portable Dance Floor, like the Dot2Dance one. You can take this piece of dance floor everywhere you want and practice your turns in it
My Top Recommendation
My favorite Turnboard is the Ballet is Fun Turnboard. This is a very good product and it is not expensive at all. It comes in many colors and they even have special editions featuring different dancers, like Mackenzie Ziegler and Kendall Vertes.
You can get it at the best price – even cheaper than in their website at Amazon.
Click on the Image to see full price!
The definition of Amazing Turns
If you ask me, Amazing Turns = Autumn Miller.
Look at this video bellow. She starts doing pirouettes in a second position, then goes to a closed passe, a fouette to get back to second position, attitude, second position again and all the way to coup de pied and all of that while changing her arms position and turning 1, 2, 3…8…20? I lost count already!
What happens if you can’t turn like her?
Well, first of all: I can’t. Turning is not a natural thing to me, but I don’t let that keep me from trying my best every day. Turns, like jumps, are very important if you want to dance. Depending on the style you will be required to do different kind of turns so it is definitely something that everyone, including me, should train inside and outside the classroom.
But good news: There is a lot more to dancing than amazing turns.
I don’t think a dance solo should be all about turns, there is a fine line between making turns as a trick and making them to improve your overall performance. Sometimes I see solos that are 40% turns and that is amazing but also very distracting.
I believe that dancing should be about emotion and turning has so much technique involve that I don’t see how including 10 turns in a row can include those emotions. But well… that is just my point of view!
Are Turnboards the Key to Achieving Amazing Turns?
The answer to this is YES. And also no! Basically, a Turnboard will make you turn no matter what while you figure out what to do with the rest of your body in order to make your turns better.
However, you won’t have a Turnboard on stage. Think of them as your supporting wheels. They can and will make your turns amazing if you are consistent with your practice. It is amazing what adding a Turnboard to your practice can do for your technique!
There are many dance teachers that don’t think a Turnboard is the best way to improve your turns. This is because specially in Ballet you need to be at a full relevé position in order to properly do a pirpuette and the Turnboard doesn’t help you with that. That is because the purpose of a Turnboard is to help you with spotting, arms placements and upper body placement and getting the feeling of multiple turns!
The results that I’ve seen since I started using my Turnboard are amazing and it didn’t take that long either. You also start feeling a lot more confident and that shows when you are dancing.
There is nothing worse than seeing the fear in a student’s face when they are about to make a pirouette!
If you are one of those, getting a Turnboard might be a good idea.