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breebop

Please help! I CANT spot!

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breebop

Hey guys. I'm an adult, national title winning dancer and I can't admit this to anyone that I know personally I can't spot my head. Like I can't turn at all. And jokes on me- we have a big turn section coming up. 

I have tried everything. Getting glasses. Etc. Days weeks months YEARS of practice and my head just won't spot! I know all of the techniques. I've danced my whole life. I even do that thing where you put your feet in jazz first, put a red lid on the wall (eye level) and did little shuffles around and whipped my head and continued with my body. Even doing that, i can't spot. I even think I close my eyes sometimes. I'm in tears having a panic attack. Why can't I spot my head!! 

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Redbookish

Welcome to Ballet Talk for Dancers, BreeBop. I've moved your query to the section of the message board for Adult Students technique (How to Do Things is about how to do things on this board).

For me, spotting isn't about my head, it's where I'm looking. A fixed point - where I want to land my pirouette, usually.

And the only way to develop that is slow and steady - take it back to basics, and learn it the way children learn spotting & turning at the age of 8 or 9. Start with your hands on your shoulders  (or hips) and do a quarter turn. Then another, and so on, until you've done 4 to get your all the way around.

Then do it with a half turn. Slowly and with control.

You can start as you say, shuffling around, but I wonder if that sets up the wrong sort of muscle memory? Maybe doing very slow controlled en dehors half-turns from fifth? Do the demi-plié preparation, relèvé up to retire and half a turn, hold the retiré and then bring it back down to a demi-plié. Make sure you fix a point to look each time, and really try to see it. And do it really slowly, so you set up correct muscle memory.

Might be worth a try. Because what ou describe as what you've tried all sounds correct. IT might be just a matter of relaxing and focusing on overall really god control & placement. It sounds as though you're making yourself nervous & set up to fail by the dominant message in your mind telling you "I can't spot."

 

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miraclegiraffe

I know for me I started out being able to spot in my beginner classes and then the teacher got really excited and yelled "way to spot!" and ever since then I hadn't been able to do it. I recently realized that if I lift my head and look "up" I can spot. I'm not actually tilting my head back or really changing where it is, but I feel like I am "lifting" up. It's hard to explain. I had tried the same things you had mentioned to get it back. I've gotten all of my turns back. The key is not getting too excited and anxious about it and remembering to do it. It was more about finding the one thing that calmed me down ahead of time and forced me to focus.

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TYR

Renato Paroni's correction: "Get your shoulder under your chin". This works for me when I remember it.

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Redbookish

And Mr Paroni is a master teacher of pirouette, as we know! For those of you who don't know of him - he was for a long time the main coach for Tamara Rojo - amazing turner, and Artistic Director of the ENB.

 

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breebop

What??? My shoulder?? Which shoulder? What??

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TYR

The one on the outside of the turn.

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Redbookish

It's another way of saying, "Get your shoulders around." That's why I like going back to the basics of turning with hands on shoulders - you have to really work to get your whole torso around.

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anya

Breebop, I wish I had a helpful suggestion, but can only commiserate. I completely lost my ability to spot after my son was born. No matter what I try, I just can't do it. Before then, I'd always done it without thinking - it was the simplest thing in the world - and now I'm useless. As he's in college now, I'm not holding out much hope, although I had a long break from dancing and have only consistently gone back to it in the last five years. Redbookish, your advice is inspiring me. Next week, I'm going to focus on trying every single day.

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TYR

I must confess that about half the time last night I managed to interpret that correction as meaning "look down and into the axis of the turn", which is no help at all and looks horrible.

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Redbookish
19 hours ago, anya said:

Redbookish, your advice is inspiring me. Next week, I'm going to focus on trying every single day.

Thank you, but it's my teachers really - like you, I've had a period where I've lost any ability to do more than one good turn in pirouette exercises. My doubles used to be secure, and they are now scrappy as anything. I had a persistent bout of Achilles tendinitis, which made anything on demi-pointe on the leg affected painful & difficult . That really affected my alignment & strength for turning. 

I'm working on strength a lot now, and trying to keep the tendinitis at bay or bearable. And so I'm having to reconstruct my turning. It's slow work (particularly at my age!)

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anya
2 hours ago, Redbookish said:

I'm working on strength a lot now, and trying to keep the tendinitis at bay or bearable. And so I'm having to reconstruct my turning. It's slow work (particularly at my age!)

I find it so fascinating how, on the one hand, many things in ballet are harder as we get older, but on the other, I enjoy it even more than I did when I was younger, despite the fact that my technique is no longer as good. Less self-imposed pressure, I guess. 

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Redbookish

And you know your body better and there’s a long muscle memory. I’m far better technically now than when my body could do more. I have to have good alignment and so on to avoid injury more. 

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anya

Redbookish, EXACTLY!

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