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Getting the feet mixed up


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I know this sounds odd but my DD (10 years-old) has absolutely NO trouble at all when it comes to knowing her left and right as long as she's NOT dancing. Put her in class, and she has a heck of a time! It's even a little amusing right now, but I'm worried she's going to get very frustrated. One mother suggested looking in the mirror might be what's confusing her, but I'm not convinced that's it.


If she's learning choreography she eventually "learns" which foot and which arm she should be using, but in class her teachers are constantly having to tell her to change feet or arms or to face the other direction. She's very aware of it and tries to catch herself. And sometimes when she is correct, she assumes that she's wrong and automatically changes. I know that every child goes through this to some degree, but mine is definitely having more trouble than most. But it absolutely blows me away that it's ONLY when she's dancing!


How common is this?

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Knock knock


I know of one ex-RoyalBallet dancer - now a teacher - who used to wear one balck shoe and one white shoe in class, so that he could tell left from right. I'd guess it's not that uncommon.


Your daughter probably wouldn't be allowed to do the same in class, but is there something less obtrusive that would be allowed? For example, a piece of coloured cotton round her right wrist?



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This evening after watching DD I suggested she wear a string around her wrist, but she refuses. First of all she has a very hard time admitting that she gets mixed up during class. And, since no jewelry etc. is allowed in class she's worried that everyone will ask her why she's wearing something when the rest of the class isn't allowed. I'm thinking maybe I could paint one of her fingernails?


Liliflower, thank you for the suggestion, but she knows her left from her right. Since she's right handed I often tell her that while she's dancing to think about the fact that she writes with her right hand. Besides, I think it might be a little odd for her to have to draw an L in mid-air all the time!


I just wish I knew why she had trouble while dancing when she doesn't seem to have trouble any other time.


I'm just a little perplexed.

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Some children have trouble processing what they see and then getting their bodies to follow quickly. My DD had the same problem when she was your daughter's age. She is now 14 and able to process much faster. I think ballet has helped her quite a bit in that area (along with the fact of her getting older). There are certain therapies (called brain integration therapies) that help children with processing speed. If you think any of this might apply to your DD, please feel free to PM me, and I can share with you some info that has been helpful to us. :wink:

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Have her stand with her feet together and then lean forward to see which leg she steps out on naturally. If its her left that could be a problem. I'm a strong lefty turn left, tumble left and I'm right handed.


I had the same problem and it just took me a little while longer to sort through the whole left and right thing than other people. It wasn't that I didn't know left from right but that my left leg was dominate and I always wanted to go left first. Most teachers alway do right first. I knew a girl that was a double lefty and she didn't have the same problem except we both marked left first then right in the back.


I may be physiologically way out there but hey it made sense to me when someone explained it to me which made me relax about it and could solve the problem instead of thinking there was something wrong with me.

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cmtaka, there may be some validity in what you said, and I don't know why I didn't think of it before! I'm right handed (and so are all my children) but I am as they put it "left footed" as is my non-DD. I can ONLY do a cartwheel on my left side. This was actually a good thing for me being in the military because you always start marching left foot first, and when changing positions (attention, parade rest etc.) it's the left foot that moves NOT the right! I found out non-DD was left footed when she took gymnastics and couldn't do a cartwheel when she stepped out with her right foot. When asked to start with her left foot she did fine. Unfortunately I don't remember if DD is left footed or right footed, because she can do a cartwheel easily on both sides, although this wasn't always the case.


I think I'm going to pay close attention in class next time to see if the teacher is starting with the right. And I think I'm going to go outside and observe her playing to see if I can pick up on anything.

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Check for eye dominance as well. She may be left eye dominant. Hold your arms straight out in front of you--totally extended. Make a small triangle or circle with both hands and focus on an object in the distance. Slowly bring the small open circle close to your face. Close one eye and then the other and see which one actually is still the one focused on the object. When your daughter is doing is you can have her slowly bring her hands close to her face and see that they are slowly moving to left or right. She be right handed but left eye and or left foot dominant.

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This is becoming a little humorous. DD and I are actually laughing about it. When

I asked her to walk towards me she began with her right foot. But then when I asked her to do a cartwheel she started with her left foot. So, I thought "there goes that theory"! :lol:


When I simply watched her playing etc. she begins to walk with her left foot. When I talked to her about she insisted that she's walking with her right foot, but she's not. I even watched as she climbed the ladder to her bunkbed. It was left foot first! But when she puts on her shoes, it's right foot first! I think I'm more confused than I was before!


I do think however, that this could be the ultimate culprit. I know five minutes of observation can't give me the whole picture, and in fact, she might not be acting naturally because she's aware that I'm watching. I'll have to watch her over the course of the weekend. And I may indeed talk to her teacher about it. DD might be willing to wear a colored string or bracelet around her wrist like Jane D suggested, if she knows that it's because of a dominance problem and not because people think she doesn't know her left from her right!


Amy's mom, is this something that brain integration therapy can be used for, or is it for more serious developmental problems?


DD is already asking questions about what this will mean in the future. I'm not sure where she crosses the line from dedication to obsession. For goodness sake she's 10! I wish I was doing a better job of teaching her to not be so competetive, and to just have fun, but that's a different thread.


She just got her foot jammed in the door, so she's sitting with a bag of frozen strawberries on her foot...(no frozen peas in this house!) That's my cue to get off the computer!



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Left foot or right foot? :lol:


As for foot dominance -- a friend of mine was studying dominance in graduate school. I seem to recall her pointing out that starting to walk on the left foot doesn't necessarily indicate left-footedness, as the standing foot is bearing all the weight and balancing, and is in that sense more active than the one that starts moving. This is all hazy, though.

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More than you'd ever want to know :lol:


A couple of links. The first is Neuroscience for Kids a test to see which sided they are. http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/rightl.html and a small piece of an article...


Title: A question of foot dominance.


Date: 10/1/1996; Publication: The Journal of General Psychology; Author: Hart, Susan



In perhaps the most comprehensive review of this manifestation of motoric dominance, Peters (1988) offered an operational definition that describes footedness as used in several assessment inventories (e.g., Chapman, Chapman, & Allen, 1987; Coren 1993; Reitan & Davidson, 1974). Typically, foot preference for a particular task is characterized by its stabilizing and mobilizing (or manipulating) features. That is, one limb is used to manipulate an object or lead out (e.g., kicking a ball, stepping up on a chair, letter tracing with a foot while standing, picking up a pebble), whereas the other foot has the role of lending postural (stabilizing) support. In such a bilateral context, which provides a relatively clear division of functional limb action, the consensus is that the mobilizing limb is the preferred (dominant) foot, whereas the foot that is used to support the actions of the preferred foot is defined as the nonpreferred limb. In this context, tasks that are more unilateral, such as one-foot balance and hopping on one limb, are questionable, because they do not provide clear bilateral role differentiation.


The notion that kicking a ball is an ideal fit with the operational definition has been noted by Chapman et al. (1987), Peters (1988), and Porac and Coren (1981). Peters stated that "the choice of foot for kicking is as compelling as the choice of hand for writing" (p. 183). Peters also noted that the choice of a foot to pick up a pebble, a task used in three of the inventories reviewed, tends to be congruent with choice of kicking limb. In their efforts to develop a foot-preference inventory, Chapman and colleagues examined 13 foot behaviors as the bases of overall footedness; all but 3 of the tasks fit the bilateral context description. From the 13 tasks, an 11-item inventory was recommended, 9 items of which were bilateral activities. As one would expect, all of the items that were correlated well with the overall footedness index were bilateral tasks - for example, kicking a ball, writing a name in the sand with toes, and smoothing the sand with toes. Also not surprising is that the two lowest correlation values (.48) were those of the two exceptional (unilateral) items: hopping (stability only) and foot tapping while seated (manipulation only).

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My daughter is right handed but prefers left pirouettes and leaps. She always struggled knowing left and right, according to her. ... Was always afraid someone would think she didn't know her left from right. Perhaps she just prefered left... who knows. Anyway, at about 11 1/2 - 12 years old, she realized one day, that not only was it not a problem any more, she didn't even ever think about it.

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I know this sounds odd but my DD (10 years-old) has absolutely NO trouble at all when it comes to knowing her left and right as long as she's NOT dancing.  Put her in class, and she has a heck of a time!

This is not uncommon if the dancer is switching back and forth from 'using the mirror' and standing behind the teacher, or the teacher is in front facing the class and thus 'becomes' the mirror. Unfortunately, these are teaching skills that many otherwise gifted teachers, are lacking.

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*knock knock*


Teacher here. If the trouble is truly centered around her ballet classes, could it possibly be a problem involving the mirror? I know that many students I see can have a tendency to watch other students or even the teacher in the mirror while they are dancing, and while they know the correct exercise and what foot they should be using, seeing a reflection in the mirror can throw them off a little.


It is just a thought. It's seems too basic, but I see it every once in a while from a student.


EDIT: It appears cabriole and I posted at the same time.

Edited by BalletIsLife
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I have this problem all over the place. I don't kow left from right whether I'm walking down the street or in ballet class. I have to pinch one leg before doing a combination across the floor so I can feel it tingle as I go across the floor and know which leg is supposed to do what. What's odd is, the leg that gets pinched changes depending on what the combination is (sort of a "This leg supports the first pique" thing). It has nothing to do with one being my left leg and one being my right leg.


I also have trouble translating patterns as well, which makes learning choreography especially hard for me. When I head back to school I'll talk to some of my Special Education major friends and see if they know anything about how to help me with it.


I tried the falling forward test and the eye dominance test, and I am both right eye and right leg dominant.

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