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EmilyR

Spotting - the nightmare of my life!!! Advice appreciated please

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I feel like I could write a book on the whys and wherefores of spotting from the wonderful tuition and visualisations several very well respected teachers have given me.... but I still can't spot!!!!!! 

 

After much analysis and probably a bit of overthinking it, I feel I have two main shortcomings:

 

1) I actually can't see the spot point very well in the first place and then the whole of my vision becomes rather a blur until after the turn.

2) I REALLY hate the creaky feeling spotting gives me in my ears so I think I hold my head stiff to avoid this.

 

AAAAGGGHHHH!!!!!! :)

 

Any suggestions will be gratefully received

 

 

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Can you possibly explain further the ‘creaky’ feeling in your ears? I’ve never heard anyone describe this before when doing turns,  so am intrigued. For sure, if something like that is bothering you then the tension will set in and freedom of the head/ neck/ area will be constrained. Spotting will be impossible. 

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2 hours ago, valentina said:

Can you possibly explain further the ‘creaky’ feeling in your ears? I’ve never heard anyone describe this before when doing turns,  so am intrigued. For sure, if something like that is bothering you then the tension will set in and freedom of the head/ neck/ area will be constrained. Spotting will be impossible. 

 

I know it sounds really weird! if you turn your head to the side quite quickly do you hear a creaking in your ears? - like you can hear your neck/spine moving? If I tense then wriggle my jaw I can hear the same sound. When I try to whip my head this is what I hear. It may be tension in my neck which causes it.

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Thanks for explaining. Yes, sounds like you’re hearing the tendons in your neck, moving with the motion. Mine do too, whether I’m totally relaxed or not, although I suspect I’m a lot older than you and more creaky! It is a weird noise but I think you need to get used to it by just turning your head your head from side to side (don’t overdo it) If you can get your brain used to the fact it’s normal and ok then some tension may release and your head will then be free.

Do you mind saying how your spotting, or lack of it, is affecting your turns? Is it better in turns en diagonale? Or Pirouettes? Have your teachers told you there is an issue? Do you just need to improve your turns? Or are you falling out of them? Just trying to work out what might help.

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EmilyR - at time of writing, your post has apparently had 247 views .... I'm guessing that means that 247 people have been sitting there turning their head from side to side to see if they can hear a creaking sound!! (Or perhaps I'm the only one 🙄).

 

Sorry - I have nothing helpful to add - the mental image of so many people across the UK turning their heads at the same time was just amusing!

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36 minutes ago, glissade said:

EmilyR - at time of writing, your post has apparently had 247 views .... I'm guessing that means that 247 people have been sitting there turning their head from side to side to see if they can hear a creaking sound!! (Or perhaps I'm the only one 🙄).

 

Sorry - I have nothing helpful to add - the mental image of so many people across the UK turning their heads at the same time was just amusing!

 

:) :) :) I bet loads of people are now saying "yay! I hear it too and it's horrid" 

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17 hours ago, valentina said:

Thanks for explaining. Yes, sounds like you’re hearing the tendons in your neck, moving with the motion. Mine do too, whether I’m totally relaxed or not, although I suspect I’m a lot older than you and more creaky! It is a weird noise but I think you need to get used to it by just turning your head your head from side to side (don’t overdo it) If you can get your brain used to the fact it’s normal and ok then some tension may release and your head will then be free.

Do you mind saying how your spotting, or lack of it, is affecting your turns? Is it better in turns en diagonale? Or Pirouettes? Have your teachers told you there is an issue? Do you just need to improve your turns? Or are you falling out of them? Just trying to work out what might help.

 

Hi Valentina, if I get the set up of the pirouette (or turn) correct, and maintain the position, then I can do a single turn with reasonable form though there is plenty of room for improvement. I  have never tried doing a double turn but I should - if only to see what happens.

I have two main teachers - one says I very rarely spot with my head and wants me to whip it round in what feels like a very fast and uncomfortable turn.She wants me to feel like I'm hitting my face with my ponytail. My other teacher says when I try to do this it's far too fast for the speed of the turn required - and when I slow it down it does feel more achievable.  On no occasion do I get dizzy with a single turn, multiple chaines make me a bit at sea but I think this is not uncommon (especially for older adults like me).

At a recent workshop the teacher talked about spotting with your knee and nose. I can't recall the full instruction but the concept of spotting with my nose rather than my eyes seems easier to understand and it gets over the issue of waiting for my eyes to refocus. If I understood her correctly, I should look to keep my nose in the line of the spot and then turn my head to take my nose back to the start position. Does this make any sense? x 

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1 hour ago, EmilyR said:

 

:) :) :) I bet loads of people are now saying "yay! I hear it too and it's horrid" 

It *is* horrid, now I've noticed it! However, could it just be fluid in the ears that's cracking/popping ...? Perhaps if it's something less sinister than bones grinding, you might not mind it so much ...?

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Yes. You’ve described your problem really well, thks. You probably need to go back to basics though and do a really simple exercise ( which I will attempt to describe) just perfecting your head, before you are ready to do pirouette!

Keep your feet in parallel and shuffle ( or releve)a quarter turn to face R side, keeping your nose to the front. Ideally, your head should be completely straight and not tilted ( inclined). Mirror handy!  Stay in parallel keeping your nose to the audience. Now, leaving your head there as long as you can, shuffle the feet round the rest of the turn, bringing your nose round v. quickly to the front - almost quicker and ahead of your shoulders to create that flick. Feet and shoulders  take time to catch up the head. Start v. slow and finish each turn with hips and shoulders and feet front before starting the next turn. Remember to do equal L and right. Or maybe more to left as most people seem to struggle with it. It takes lots of practice. Try to keep your head straight when you leave it behind, and as it flicks round, as tilted heads pull you off balance. You can then add a little low releve for the 3/4 turn staying parallel and not worrying about the legs at all, and finishing front demi plié parallel. You need to imagine your head like the ‘Churchill nodding dog’  completely free from tension but maybe not so much nodding and more whipping!

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Here's a radical idea - don't spot! Ice skaters don't; they turn too fast. I have no idea as to why they don't get dizzy. Maybe they do and just shake it off.

 

I'm the worlds worst spotter. I've tried not spotting and it doesn't help me but spotting doesn't help either.

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11 minutes ago, trog said:

Here's a radical idea - don't spot! Ice skaters don't; they turn too fast. I have no idea as to why they don't get dizzy. Maybe they do and just shake it off.

 

I'm the worlds worst spotter. I've tried not spotting and it doesn't help me but spotting doesn't help either.

 

Yes, that is one option... !

 

i'll persist with trying to learn to spot better, but if all else fails, maybe I'll work on being a successful non-spotter??

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12 hours ago, valentina said:

Yes. You’ve described your problem really well, thks. You probably need to go back to basics though and do a really simple exercise ( which I will attempt to describe) just perfecting your head, before you are ready to do pirouette!

Keep your feet in parallel and shuffle ( or releve)a quarter turn to face R side, keeping your nose to the front. Ideally, your head should be completely straight and not tilted ( inclined). Mirror handy!  Stay in parallel keeping your nose to the audience. Now, leaving your head there as long as you can, shuffle the feet round the rest of the turn, bringing your nose round v. quickly to the front - almost quicker and ahead of your shoulders to create that flick. Feet and shoulders  take time to catch up the head. Start v. slow and finish each turn with hips and shoulders and feet front before starting the next turn. Remember to do equal L and right. Or maybe more to left as most people seem to struggle with it. It takes lots of practice. Try to keep your head straight when you leave it behind, and as it flicks round, as tilted heads pull you off balance. You can then add a little low releve for the 3/4 turn staying parallel and not worrying about the legs at all, and finishing front demi plié parallel. You need to imagine your head like the ‘Churchill nodding dog’  completely free from tension but maybe not so much nodding and more whipping!

 

Thank you for this clear tutorial. I will start practising this today and do it each day for a month and see what happens. I am a great believer in trying things each day for a period of time. I usually find it makes a big difference - even if I don't think it will when i start. I would rather learn to spot properly than just get by with poor or no spotting, as I'm not likely to progress if I can't get the foundations right. 'Project Spotting' starts today and I'll keep you updated. :)

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Yep, slow and methodical is the way to go. 

 

(My spotting problem is that I learned to do it in karate, where you’re moving your head sharply to acquire your next target, so it’s too violent a movement. Inhibiting that on slow movements makes me forget to spot and/or fall over. So I can spot pretty well on enchaînés or fast diagonal turns and fall over on pirouettes. <le sigh>)

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just referring to the comment about skaters not getting dizzy. some CBBC programme recently put ice skaters on a special turning machine to see how long it took for them to feel sick (it was part of a larger scientific research project not just trying to make people feel ill) and they discovered if I remember right that some people just don't get dizzy. Same as some don't get travel sick, it is all linked.  It was very interesting. I think it was part of the Ice Stars programme (think that is its name - follows young ice skaters) and they had been invited to do it. So some people can repeatedly turn without any ill effects whilst others can feel dizzy just turning round slowly. I get dizzy every time I stand up and sometimes just walking around so the chances of me getting far if I tried to do a pirouette are very very small...

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Am I right in thinking the RAD give exam marks for the spotting technique? 

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Yes, unfortunately correct "spotting technique" is expected in ballet exams (not just RAD) especially at vocational level. Re the skaters - I believe that what they do is known (in some circles anyway) as "soft spotting", i.e. they do not use a head action, just focus their eyes on the spot every time they come round to face it,  and let them relax and "blur everything out" for the rest of the time.

 

Personally I find that doing it this way makes me much less dizzy than "ballet spotting" does, so there must be something in it! However for ballet it simply does not "look right", so I guess  you'll just have to persevere if you want to take exams, EmilyR.

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I used to teach spotting as leaving the head behind as long as possible and then whipping it round - then I realised that that actually wasn't how I myself spot!   First of all don't choose a small focus point but rather more of a direction.  For example I might tell my students to focus on the piano or the fire door!   Then don't leave your head behind for more than an 8th of the turn, almost immediately bring it round to the other side - it keeps you straighter on balance. For a double you just have to do the head movement again.  Since I started teaching it this way I find my students have become better turners, so maybe it will help you!

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23 minutes ago, Dance*is*life said:

I used to teach spotting as leaving the head behind as long as possible and then whipping it round - then I realised that that actually wasn't how I myself spot!   First of all don't choose a small focus point but rather more of a direction.  For example I might tell my students to focus on the piano or the fire door!   Then don't leave your head behind for more than an 8th of the turn, almost immediately bring it round to the other side - it keeps you straighter on balance. For a double you just have to do the head movement again.  Since I started teaching it this way I find my students have become better turners, so maybe it will help you!

 

Thanks, this is really helpful and fits with how I'm doing with Valentina's suggestion. I am looking to a point and thinking about my nose pointing to it rather than 'seeing' it, and then as I turn my head I am turning my nose back to the start point. I've even practised it with my eyes closed so I feel the direction of the nose. Your recommendation to turn the head after 8th of the turn seems far more achievable and is probably more like what I do when my turn goes better. If you can elaborate any more about your technique that would be great but how you have described it is very clear. Thank you. 

I'm working towards RAD Intermediate Foundation and it's the turns I need to get sorted - just getting round is not enough, they need to be technically ok. 

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A good way to practise is an exercise that was in the old, old Grade 5. It was to practise pirouettes at the barre from 5th , rather than 4th. Start with one hand on the barre and turn 3/4 en dehors to finish with both hands on the barre with the leg still in pirouette position. The best pirouettes are those where you finish with the leg still under the knee facing front and then lower with control.  It's good to practise finishing "up".  Try it first finishing with both hands on the barre and then with a whole turn finishing with one hand on the barre. Pirouettes from 5th are very good preparation for those from 4th, because you have to push from the floor and use both arms and head more than from 4th.

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