What's Actually Happening When You Do Fouettés

January 5, 2017

Engaged core. Turned-out standing leg. Generous plié. Pulled-up spine. Whipping head.

When executing fouettés—or any dance step, really—there are countless things to think about. But have you ever considered the science behind all the technical details we strive to master?

A TED-Ed talk from last year breaking down the physics of fouettés has once again captured the internet’s attention, and if you can get past the cartoon ballerina’s sickled biscuits (sorry, cartoon-erina), it’s pretty fascinating.

Though we can’t guarantee that this video will transform your turns, it’s helpful to break the step down into terms we usually wouldn’t consider. For example, the narrator explains that scientifically, there are two ways a dancer can increase the number of pirouettes between fouettés: by extending the leg sooner, or by bringing the arms in closer. We’ve never thought about it exactly like that, but it seems to check out. Or, he shows how the constant motion of the working leg allows the dancer to pause and face the audience for a brief moment without losing momentum. Our only question: Are fouettés actually the “hardest move in ballet” like the video claims? We think that part’s up for debate. (Gargouillades, anyone?)