Social and Behavioral Sciences


The pirouette requires a rapid full rotation of the body with single-leg support on the toes or ball of the foot and is one of the most common movements in all of dance. One aspect related to a successful pirouette is how the dancer physically prepares for and carries out the turn: is the preparation and turn in the classical ballet form with the gesture leg externally rotated or is the preparation and turn for a jazz pirouette without the hip turnout? Knowledge of the lower extremity kinematics and kinetics, the center of mass (COM), and center of pressure (COP) during the turn can be useful in comparing any differences between the two styles thus allowing dance educators to detect any faults in the movement. The purpose of this study was to compare an experienced dancer’s hip, knee, and ankle kinematics and kinetics as well as the dancer’s COM and COP using two commonly used preparation and turn styles for an en dehors pirouette (classical vs. jazz). An experienced college-aged female dancer with no medical problems or surgical history participated in the study. The participant had 18 years of dance experience in a variety of styles, was a dance minor, and teaches dance classes. Eight motion capture cameras with use of the Vicon Plug-in Gait and Oxford Foot biomechanical models and two floor-embedded force plates were used to collect a static trial followed by a dynamic walking trial and lastly, twelve trials of each style of pirouette. The pirouettes were performed in four sets of three trials each with the best pirouette chosen from each set. Vicon BodyBuilder software was used to analyze motion capture and force plate data. Data from the four best pirouettes were averaged for each condition to provide descriptive statistics (mean±s.d.) for the kinematic, kinetic, COM, and COP data using Vicon Polygon. Microsoft Excel was used to generate angle angle plots and trend lines. Based on the dancer’s chosen pirouettes, there was an observable difference in ankle power generation and absorption for the supporting limb (greater for ballet), greater COM displacement and acceleration in both directions (jazz), and differing acceleration patterns in the X direction. Hip and ankle angle interactions had strong direct linear relationships in the sagittal plane. These results suggest that both the hip and ankle joints may contribute to maintaining the COM during the pirouette and the ankle plantar flexors play an important role in production and control of the turn.