Spotting in your turns
One Spotting is a technique used to improve spins. What is spotting?
Spotting is a technique used in spins to improve your balance, keep spins in a line, and create a pulse to the spin.
The basic idea is to focus on a single point with your head as your body rotates. When you can no longer focus on that point without contorting your neck, you quickly flip your head around back to that point, while your body catches up with the head.
There are many advantages to spotting.
In addition to keeping the dancer oriented during spins, spotting makes the spin look crisper and can even reduce the feeling of dizziness from spinning.
Learning to spot requires becoming comfortable with having the head and body rotate at different speeds. That’s where this drill comes in.
Basic Spotting Drill
Stand in front of a mirror. Look at yourself in the mirror, and slowly rotate your body while keeping your focus on your mirror image. As you start practicing, shuffle your feet to rotate your body at a slow but consistent rate.
At some point, you won’t be able to keep focusing on your mirror image without tilting your head.
When this happens, turn your head quickly so that you are now looking over your other shoulder to find your mirror reflection.
You may not be able to get your head all the way around to see your reflection yet, and that’s okay. The point is to be looking for your reflection so your gaze can stabilize on that point while your body finishes rotating.
Your body is rotating at a constant, slower speed; your head is stationary for as long as possible and then rotates around much faster than the body until it finds the forward position and then becomes stationary again. Becoming fluent at these two motions together takes time, so keep practicing until they are instinctive.
You can easily get dizzy by practicing a lot of spotting at once, especially if this is a new technique for you. Fortunately, spotting drills work really well when done in small bursts several times a day.
If you do a couple of spots in the bathroom mirror every time you visit the restroom, you can get lots of repetitions without overwhelming yourself.
Advanced spotting drill:
Without a partner, do a series of spins. Pick a point on one of the walls to focus on, and spot that wall as you spin. Pick one spot for each full rotation; even if you are doing pivot turns that only rotate halfway around, you should spot one wall rather than a wall for each half rotation.
A common question is whether you should spot down the line or to your partner when you spin. Either option is acceptable, and you will probably find one option feels more natural to you. It’s never a bad idea to learn to spot both ways, because each method is useful in specific situations.
Here are a few options you have for spotting in spins:
- Spotting your partner makes the dance look more connected.
- Keeping your spot down line makes it easier to stay in the slot as your spins travel.
- Spotting your partner helps complete the spin because the flip of your head helps bring you back to your partner.
- Looking down the line makes the first part of the spin faster because the flip of your head accelerates the first half of the spin.