Turning boards decrease the resistance to spin, allowing ballerinas to focus on arm position, back alignment, centering and spotting. Dancers practice the basics of pirouettes while not on pointe, improving confidence levels.
Members of the Dallas Metropolitan Ballet designed the original turning board because students new to ballet lack the experience to tackle all of the components of successful pirouettes. A turning board removes any balance issues associated with spinning from a raised position. By paring down the process, turning boards focus the student on the basics.
A pirouette is a turn on one leg, started by sinking into a plie and springing up onto pointe or demi-pointe. Spinning begins by bringing the back foot up to the knee of the front leg and moving the body in the direction of the turn. The dancer must learn spotting, or focusing on a single point until no longer possible and then snapping around to regain the target. They must also understand the effect body position micro-adjustments have on balance during spinning.
The turning board effectively teaches spotting and micro-adjustments. However, turning on pointe requires a different center of balance than turning flat-footed. The tool can reinforce bad techniques and improper muscle memory with extended use.
The Spin Spot also introduces students to the pirouette. A disc-shaped platform layered on a turntable device, it allows a ballerina to progress from flat-footed spins to a fully raised position.