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Spotting


EverHopeful
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Two technical questions here in relation to pirouettes and pose turns:

 

1. At what height do you spot? I’ve always tried to go for high up, near the ceiling of whatever room I’m in. But I’ve recently realised maybe it’s supposed to be closer to the natural eye level?

 

2. In a single en dedans pirouette (as in grade 5 RAD centre practice with 1 and a quarter turn) do you spot to the centre or to the corner you plan to end up facing? This has been taught to me differently by different teachers and I’m unsure of the correct technique for exam purposes. 

 

Any opinions? 

Thank you 😊

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Slightly above eye height is my habit, but I’m really bad at it. Eye height is the ideal, I think, but then you’d end up trying to spot on your own reflection in most studios which works badly.

 

The  notes for that exercise say “head to 1 on count 6”, so I’d read that as them expecting your head to be spotting to 6 (the direction you end in) and needing to be moved. The girl in the video seems to do it the other way (possibly both ways) ending pirouette with head to 1 and turning it to 6! 

 

I rather suspect it doesnt doesn’t matter much.

 

I believe the theory is spot to where you’re going, but it’s the sort of thing you’ll cheat in choreography and teachers will have different opinions on.

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I was always told to spot where you are going, but spotting has always escaped me. It's over-rated anyway - ice skaters don't spot as they turn too fast. I don't know why the don't get dizzy - maybe they do and just cope.

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I've been taught that you shouldn't spot any higher than eye level as it will push your weight back. However the teacher at the RAD summer school advised taking a slightly lower spot and when doing posé  turns (on quite a long diagonal in a big studio) we were told to spot on the pianist's shoes!

 

For en dedans pirouettes my teacher tells us to turn the head to the finishing corner as soon as we take the preparation. "Your head is already there, just move the body under it" and she is very keen on "See the corner!" in all turning movements. However in the summer she did a Balanchine style course and there they spot to the front. I don't know grade 5, but in the RAD Inter en dedans exercise the BMN shows the head quarter turned which would mean facing 1 and in the Grade 6 book it shows head half turned, so facing finishing corner. Ultimately I think it depends on what works for you.

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3 minutes ago, trog said:

 I don't know why the don't get dizzy - maybe they do and just cope.

 

RAD Advanced Foundation pirouette enchaînement ! --Take a steadying breath, try to focus my eyes and into the second side hoping it will counter the effects of the first side. At the finishing position I do my best impression of a driver who is over the limit trying to convince a police officer that they are perfectly sober.

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you know who spots like crazy? flamenco dancers. saw a performance the other day where someone was using the most incredible super-exaggerated spotting action, and it definitely worked for her - her axis in the turns was plumb bob vertical. to the front, for the record.

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12 hours ago, DeveloppeD said:

This has been taught to me differently by different teachers and I’m unsure of the correct technique for exam purposes. 

 

Well, there's often a difference between 'correct technique' and 'correct technique for exam purposes' !

 

As others have said, the 'correct technique' is whatever the teacher sets or the choreography asks for. I was taught to spot to where I want to land, but other teachers & coaches will offer different advice, and if you're doing (say) pique turns en manege, you can't spot where you want to land as you're going in a circle - in that case I'd spot to each corner as I work my way around the circle.

 

But for exams, you may need to check with the syllabus. Doesn't mean that other ways of doing it are not correct, however.

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2 hours ago, The_Red_Shoes said:

However the teacher at the RAD summer school advised taking a slightly lower spot and when doing posé  turns (on quite a long diagonal in a big studio) we were told to spot on the pianist's shoes!

Oh I haven’t heard of spotting low before. I never would have thought to try that. Maybe worth a try. 

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5 minutes ago, DeveloppeD said:

Oh I haven’t heard of spotting low before. I never would have thought to try that. Maybe worth a try. 

 

When doing this I think how far distant your spot is makes a difference. (Here I'm imagining a diagram like in a schol physics text book with a little stick person and a line showing their line of sight). If your low spot was just a metre or two away then your head would be tilted downwards, but in a large space if you spot to a distant floor level point then your head would still be level. I think any tendencies as to which direction you are more prone to mispositioning your weight make a difference too. I tend to get my weight too far back, so consciously work on keeping eyes lower as well as controlling ribs etc.

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I've just checked in the RAD technical handbook The Foundations of Classical Ballet Technique and it says that for pirouettes en dedans the eyes focus on 1 during preparation, remain on 1 at start of turn and refocus on 1 as soon as possible.So it seems that the RAD prefers spotting to the front as a general rule in en dedans pirouettes. However posé turns  spot in direction of travel.

Edited by The_Red_Shoes
Edited for clarity
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1) You should be aiming to spot at eye level or maybe slightly above or below. If you spot too high, you are having to physically tilt your head back on your neck. If you do this your spine cannot be vertical, and your weight will be thrown back behind you. This is a habit of mine that we've worked really hard to break this year! I tend to look at the floor when I'm dancing and then spot the roof on turns...it's not attractive. I find that eyeline is something that is often missing in adult beginner pupils, because so much of it gets taught in the primary levels and by the time you get to higher grades (where most adults start) you're just expected to know where it goes...my teacher says 'just do what feels natural' and tends to forget that it only feels natural to her because she's been doing it since she was 5 years old! 

 

2) My teacher is an RAD examiner and often comes to us with tidbits picked up from various examiners courses, sometimes just from discussion with other examiners and sometimes directly from the current artistic director of the RAD. She says the gospel is that you should spot an en dedans turn 'halfway between 1 and the corner', (1 being en face in the RADs style of counting walls and corners). She says if you spot to 1 and end up facing the corner, you tend to leave your arms and the side of your body behind you which ruins your landing. If you spot to the corner, many students put too much force into it and over rotate. But she also says that where you spot depends on the student and it's all about getting the best turn for you. Different body types, proportions, degree of rotation, shape of the spine...they all need to slightly change the turning position and the mechanics of the turn to suit them. She wants you to turn straight up and straight down with a sharp spotting action and both legs as rotated as you can make them (and she says she can tell from the first plies how much rotation you have and she therefore expects you to use...Maybe not so much in Grade 5 as I think much of the work until then is done in parallel) She makes us switch up where we're spotting every now and then to see what works best and said she would never mark down a student for spotting closer to the front or to the corner. She marks on the spotting action, the whip of the head and the focus of the eyes, not where you're looking at the time. 

 

Hope that helps! As for Advanced Foundation @The_Red_Shoes I have been doing my best to forget the enchainment ever existed... Though we started to get some better results from me when we pretended it was split into 4 different exercises. The pirouettes to the right, the diagonal to the right, the pirouettes to the left and the diagonal to the left. At the end of each 'exercise' I would take a second to pause, take a breath, reset and focus. Nothing that happened in the previous 'exercise' mattered, because we were on to a new one and I had to put my sole focus on that. All of that pausing and breathing and thinking happened in about half a second, but it stopped the frenzied, exhausted push at the end just to finish the damn thing!

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That’s really helpful @Viv thank you very much. I’m (not so) secretly hoping for a distinction in grade 5 as I wasn’t too far away from it in my grade 4. My performance and music marks were higher than my technique marks so I’m trying hard to learn all the little technical details. It must be brilliant to have an actual examiner as a teacher! 

Thanks again. 

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11 hours ago, Viv said:

Hope that helps! As for Advanced Foundation @The_Red_Shoes I have been doing my best to forget the enchainment ever existed... Though we started to get some better results from me when we pretended it was split into 4 different exercises. The pirouettes to the right, the diagonal to the right, the pirouettes to the left and the diagonal to the left. At the end of each 'exercise' I would take a second to pause, take a breath, reset and focus. Nothing that happened in the previous 'exercise' mattered, because we were on to a new one and I had to put my sole focus on that. All of that pausing and breathing and thinking happened in about half a second, but it stopped the frenzied, exhausted push at the end just to finish the damn thing!

That's a good idea, the mental splitting up of the exercise. Actually I have a kind of love-hate relationship with it. When it goes well it's absolutely exhilarating, and I do think it's beneficial for technical development since it throws in absolutely everything required in the turning department at that level.

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