Forum: Ballet / Ballet - General

Trouble with Spotting
By CaineGreyson
On Fri Sep 14, 2018 08:05 AM

Even when I was dancing every day and practicing my spotting in particular, I struggled with turns. Now that I've taken a two-year break, I'm finding it even more difficult. I just can't seem to get my head around in time, and it's like my eyes don't focus on my spot. What can I do to improve this?

2 Replies to Trouble with Spotting

re: Trouble with Spotting
By maureensiobhan
On Fri Sep 14, 2018 06:57 PM
Remember to keep your neck relaxed to enable you to move the head to spot. Make sure to focus your eyes a little bit above eye level. This will help give you the feeling of lifting and pulling up. Keep your eyes focused on one small object.
re: Trouble with Spotting
By Storm_Trouper
On Sat Sep 15, 2018 03:14 AM
Edited by Storm_Trouper (249942) on 2018-09-15 03:17:13
Edited by Storm_Trouper (249942) on 2018-09-15 03:18:19
Edited by Storm_Trouper (249942) on 2018-09-15 03:30:24
It is not clear to me from what you wrote what all aspects exactly of turning that you are having issues with apart from spotting speed and refocusing. Does your teacher provide you with specific corrections and feedback? Are you referring to chaine turns, pique turns, soutenu or pirouette turns, for example. They all involve spotting. If you could be more specific, then it would help us to help you. If your placement isn’t correct, for example, then even with proper spotting you might still not master the turn.

One general comment: in ballet we generally condition many different muscle-joint groups like hips (turn out and extension), shoulders-elbows, ankles, spine, etc. However, I have never seen a ballet teacher (I have worked with more than 4 dozen) work on neck flexibility and power per se; only head position. In many martial arts and in wrestling, for example, there are specific drills to improve neck flexibility and strength. Both qualities are essential to facilitate good spotting I think it is safe to say. For example, you might be able to turn (twist or rotate on vertical axis) your head better to one side than to the other (we are not always perfectly symmetrical and have strong and weak sidedness sometimes) i.e. look over each shoulder. Just as the feet are ideally 180 degrees turned out, so could the neck be flexible enough for the head to swivel 180 degrees from side to side.

Dancers neck muscles need to develop enough strength and power to be able to perform the head snap swiftly around and in control so that they are able to regain focus on their chosen spot, especially as the speed of their turn rotations increases. So this can take some time and deliberate conditioning to develop probably. Until I started doing 180 degreee head snapping drills my spotting was problematic. I also needed to increase the range of motion of my neck twist arounds. Then I had to get used to not becoming too dizzy which takes a bit of time as well to adapt to (more conditioning).

Timing of the head snap can be challenging to master. If you pronounce /chocolate cake/ as four distinct syllables, cho co-late cake (or bottle of coke) then you would snap your head around only on the fourth cake syllable, and not before, as your body spins around..


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