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Right and Left handed dancers


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It does have an influence in dance training just as it does in our daily lives. For the dancer it is important to know this since if given a choice of which way to go the dancer will be able to choose the "best" side. Or in class the dancer will have a clue as to what is happening.


We are not only left/right handed, we are also left/right footed, mouthed, eyed, etc., including which way we prefer to turn.


You can test this out yourself: Make a snarl with your mouth - most people will find this much easier - and automatically do it with one side of the mouth than the other. We chew more on one side. In some people it is even very obvious that they smile more to one side.


Look at people on TV - one eye is usually smaller - most often the left eye. Another test: hold out an arm and make a circle with your thumb and forefinger - now using one eye look at an object through that circle across the room . Which eye did you unthinkingly use?


In dancers we almost always prefer to turn to one side rather than the other. Leftside turners, when they occur, are usually male. I am rare - I am a female left preferred turner - though I am righthanded. If you ask me to walk down a hall and then turnaround and come back - I almost always automatically turn left. However, I found in females there is the additional factor of the hormonal cycle. One week out of the month, I became a strong right hand turner!


Watch a male dancer doing a solo - observe which way he turns both sur la place (like a pirouette) or in the large turning jumps around the stage.


As for footedness - we all unconsciously time our walking so that we step up or down a curb with the preferred foot. We put on trousers using the preferred foot first. A dancer usually prefers to push off for a big jump with a preferred foot - or move to a sequence of dance movement preferring one side more than the other.


Dancers learn technique so that they can move/turn to either side - but they still prefer one side - and that side is usually more successful. In the corps de ballet there is no choice. However, if one is doing a solo - or a choreographer gives the dancer a choice - this is valuable information to know about oneself.


It also helps to know about this left/right information and the hormonal cycle information (which also affects balance and strength) so that when things aren't going quite right, the dancer can understand why and not get depressed. Information is power.


In addition to this, one side is always stronger, more flexible, - works differently than the other.


And now an anecdote about the power of information keeping one from feeling down or at least help in understanding:


When I was in grade school PE we were playing baseball outside in the school yard. By some cosmic fluke, I hit the ball so hard it went over the school fence and out into the city street. A home run! My team was screaming with joy - the PE teacher beaming at me. I ran around the bases and the screams of joy turned to shrieks of horror. As I came into home base the teacher was furious - told me I was a showoff - sent me off the field with a big fat ZERO for the day. I had run around the bases the wrong way - to the left. I had no idea why everyone was upset - I didn't even realize I had gone the wrong way. It wasn't until years later that I put it together with my preference for doing pirouettes to the left, that in my excitement of hitting the ball I turned to my left to run - the way I subconsciously preferred to go.

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It dosent matter which handed you are.Proffesional dancers should be able to dance or turn both sides.In class both sides are equally practiced.Thats not saying dancers dont prefer a certain side or are better at one side.

I am left handed at everything but when i use to dance everything seemed equal to me.

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My DD is right handed but she says she has to really concentrate on left and right and sometimes gets it wrong. She has dyslexia and I think I have read that confusion with L and R can be associated with dyslexia so I think it is one of those things she will just have to work with. Has anyone else heard of this?

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As a ballet class should work both sides equally, it doesn't matter whether a dancer is right or left handed (or footed, or has that dominant eye) they will have half on their good side and half on their bad side.


What I find fascinating is that when you watch male Principal dancers a far higher number than one would expect from the proportions in the general population seem to be left sided and do their turns, manèges etc to the left. It doesn't seem to be the same for female Principals.

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Of course dancers should practice both sides - absolutely - but one will be much more comfortable. Yes, as I mentioned in my first post it is usually the male dancers who - when given a choice - will move/turn to the left. That's what made me so odd!


As for having difficulty with sorting out left from right, I used to tell my students who had this problem, that their heart was on the left. That seemed to help.

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Whilst having a favoured side( my daughter is a left turner), she has to be able to turn both ways and mainly to the right at work. The corps de ballet have to dance together and only as a soloist would she be able to choose direction and then only if the choreographer agreed!


It is interesting that although she writes with her right hand her movement is decidedly left biased. She uses a spoon in her left hand and as a child used her scooter with the left foot.I agree with robin64 that maybe this has a link with dyslexia.It has never been a problem in her dance training however.

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