six step prep

Why you Should Ditch the Six Step Prep

by / 2 Comments / 1801 View / December 4, 2014

The beloved six step prep has been around for ages. ages! It has helped many of us improve our pirouettes and we our thankful for that, but there comes a time when you must move on to better things. Here’s why you should ditch the six step prep:


Once dancers have mastered their pirouettes, stop with the six step. They start to get bored with the combination and settle in their turns. Keep it interesting with unique preps and patterns. See ideas below.

Not Ideal for Youngsters

On the other side of boredom comes overwhelming stress. Kids just starting to pirouette get so caught up in the steps that they forget which way they are turning. Since they are going across the floor, you as a teacher can’t really stop a kid and correct them- they will get backed up or slack off. It tends to be a mess.

You Only Have 2 Counts to Turn

Dancers are doing more and more turns these days and two counts just aren’t enough. This is good! But move on from the six step.

Takes up Room

Part of the appeal with six step preps are the stylized jazz walking done beforehand. While we’re all for that, this limits the number of pirouettes the dancers can work on. Unless you’re having your students go across the floor 10+ times, they aren’t getting enough turn time.

Six Step Alternatives:

Okay, so now that you’ve ditched the six step, here are some great alternatives that will hopefully shake things up:

4 Step Turns: Yes, some of these are no brainers. Practicing a four step prep solves a lot of the above problems including the 2 counts, taking up room and confusion for youngsters. Some may argue that it takes the dancing out of turns, which is a valid concern, but hear us out.

Sometimes its beneficial to focus 100 percent on technique. Since they have more counts and floor space, they can make vast improvements in half the time. If your dancers are advanced, have them jazz walk or freestyle during their walks.

Chaînes into Turns: For a real spotting challenge, have the girls chaîne 1-2 times before their prep. Warning: They might get dizzy!

Pirouette Contests: For your young girls just learning to turn hold weekly balancing and turning contests. This keeps everyone focused and trying hard. You can also see quickly if someone turns the wrong way. Once they’ve really gotten their turns, have them sassy walk into their turns.

Advanced Across the Floor Combos: Learning how to connect dance with pirouettes and other tricks is extremely important. Create a few across the floor combinations that incorporate movement, turns and jumps to get dancers moving.

Are you ready to ditch the six step prep yet? Better things are awaiting you!


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2 Comment

  1. I 100% disagree with this article. First off the six step is not solely about the pirouette at the end. The six step is about correct placement, weight change, stay over the balls of the feet, and spotting PRIOR to actually doing a pirouette.
    Second the six step is classic jazz technique that is lacking in jazz classes today. Professional jazz dancers (on Broadway in jazz, not contemporary, companies etc) don’t do a whole lot of leg turns or turns in second, they do classic clean jazz. How are our student supposed to appreciate clean true jazz technique for what it is when we skip giving them the foundation for executing it properly? In ballet class we execute a Demi plié every single class. If these students can do that multiple times per week they can surely continue to execute clean form and technique straightforward without getting “bored”.
    Which leads me to third, the six step can be executed with a huge variety of turns at the end (pirouette, pencil, coupe etc), varying arms, and different counts to challenge and engage your students. You state that you only have two counts at the end however if you change up the counts (for instance 1234&5, now you have 678 at the end rather than 78) and speed of the music you have plenty of time for many turns at the end of the sequence.

    Please, teachers, for the love of true classic jazz dance don’t ditch the six step pirouette! Continue to train clean and proper technique and don’t leave your students with holes in their technique!

    • Hi Katharine,

      Thanks for your insightful comment. You make great points which shouldn’t be ignored. I initially wrote this piece to expand across the floor combinations, not deem one unworthy. In my experience i’ve found that some teachers only work on 6-step preps, which gives no variety to dancers- obviously not good either. I think a balance of traditional 6 step mixed with other more-advanced preps is a perfect compromise.

      Since you’re really passionate about teaching classical jazz technique, would you be interested in writing a post about the importance of it in today’s dance world? Let me know if that sounds fun. If not, keep teaching and rockin- thank you!

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