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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Can poor eyesight affect spotting?


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My old ballet teacher once told me that if you have poor eyesight, spotting is more difficult for you because your eyes have to re-focus every time you turn (or something along those lines...). I can understand how this might happen with glasses/spectacles, because of the discrepancy between the lenses and the area outside of the lenses, but I don't see how this can happen in contact lenses...


Is this true, do you think? Teachers, what has been your experience?

I'm just wondering because the other day someone asked me if I wore contact lenses (I do) because I seemed to be taking a while to re-focus in turns...I'm not sure if that has to do with my poor eyesight though.

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I'd like to know the answer to this as well. I am nearsighted, but not to the point where I absolutely must wear contacts or glasses. However, objects at a distance are not crystal clear. Incidentally I don't have the sharpest spot, and it took me an absolute age to be able to remotely do it, but I think it is more of a coordination thing for me. However, and I feel silly as I even type this out, but I've noticed that sometimes I don't even bother to truly spot. It's more like, I can estimate more or less where I must spot to, but I never truly focus sharply on anything - probably because I can't! :lol: Maybe I should go get some trial contacts and see if that helps, believe it or not I have never tried it. :blink: I am curious as to what others have to say!

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Yes, it can affect you. I've been "spotting blind" since I was in my early teens. I'm legally blind without my glasses and cannot wear contacts. I actually cannot wear glasses to spot but must have at least a blurred image of some sort at least. It's hard on stage where there literally is no place to focus on, but it can be done. I know I've learned to "feel" the place to spot rather than use my eyes to focus. Not sure that makes sense.

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It totally makes sense to me Serendipity, because that's what I do! It's good to know it can be done at more advanced levels (I am sure that unlike me, you can do more than single pirouettes :( ).

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On stage you have the exit signs, stage lights and chandeliers to spot. I find it easier to spot on stage for that reason.


I saw an ABT dancer wearing glasses in dress rehearsal last week, he did double tours and pirouettes.

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Can I be an honorary 'adult student' in that I danced until a few years ago and am planning to return?


I think it may be more than just short/long sightedness that is the issue. It is possible even for people with good sight to have tracking problems (e.g. my son, who had to do special exercises to remedy this). I've not been tested but for instance as a child it would take me far longer than anyone else to copy anything down from the blackboard, as I was constantly having to search for the correct place again. Both as a child, when I had no contacts, and as an adult, when I did, my spotting has been similarly useless!

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Well my guess is that it doesn't have that much to do with it. I mean Alicia Alonso could turn and she was legally (or worse) blind!

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We all learn to adapt - especially if you've had to do it for as long as some of us have (in my case, more than 30 years). You learn to 'sense' space and position, rather than look for it.


I wear trifocals normally, so wearing my glasses to try to turn is asking for trouble! LOL!

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To answer the original question: "Sure, if you let it...." :(

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Thanks for all the responses. So the general consensus is that it's less about eyesight and more about "sensing" space and position, as Serendipity said. That was what I thought, but I thought I'd just check if there was any real validity to this claim. Personally, as a contact lense wearer, I don't think that my poor eyesight could affect spotting, because essentially, I have excellent vision with my contact lenses in! :P I'll try some turns today with my glasses on and see if there is a difference...


I'm just beginning to get the hang of double pirouettes, and my spotting is fine on the first turn, but as my teacher says, I have a "lazy head" sometimes on the second one! :rolleyes: So I seriously doubt it has much to do with my eyesight, especially as I wear contact lenses. I've just found this emoticon, and without the bounce, I suspect this is what my head (and eyes) look like on the second turn: :bouncing::(

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My eyesight is not so good, either. But I am not letting it to be an EXCUSE for poor techniques! My eyes will "adopt" to it -- I am not seeing anything that clearly with or without the turn anyway! I spot by rhythm in multiple turns -- slow in the first round, second-- faster, and third one (I can only make it to 3rd occasionally though) even faster. My teacher used to make us clap our hands to get the spotting rhythm right~ Pretty fun stuff!

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That's the only way I can get my spotting to work, as well. In my mind (or with the music :( ) I say "one two three", three is the landing. And when I do that, it seems I can see better when spotting as well.


When trying to 'just spot' it's like my eyes are not focusing when turning, and when I get to my spot they need to adapt quickly to see clearly..

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My teacher used to make us clap our hands to get the spotting rhythm right~ Pretty fun stuff!


That does sound fun - could you please describe that exercise? : )

I think it could really help me, as I can't visually tell when it's time to wack my head around - so I just end up really desoriented within even one single pirouette! ;-)

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Well, it's simple, when marking the turns, instead of trying to do a turn, we clap our hands loudly, and literally count "one, two, three" with your rhythm -- for example, if you are doing doubles, you clap twice -- the second time faster than the first one; if you are going for a triple, then, the third clap has to be even faster than the second clap.

And when we were actually doing the turns, at first, the teacher counts and clap for us; and then, when we get used to the rhythm, it becomes automatic to engage an "active spot"...

I am thinking them as music notes: Say the first spot is a whole note, the second will be a half note, and the third one is a quarter note, and my head is playing these notes!

Hopefully this is helpful!

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