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Spins and Turns
Exercise 2: Basic Spotting

The action of spotting is not a difficult one to learn, however many novice dancers tend to pass up the opportunity to learn, since the concept can seem intimidating at first. This exercise simplifies the process of learning to spot by focusing in on the spotting action itself, without the added difficulty of trying to produce a specific type of turn.

While executing this exercise, keep in mind that the technique and speed of the turn itself is not important. Just make sure that you are standing over your feet and turning in place. The feet may paddle or shuffle around, or do whatever is necessary to produce the turning action.

Exercise 2A
Turning the Body Underneath the Head

The purpose of the first part of this exercise is to learn how to turn the body underneath the head, while the head remains fixed in space. You will also be testing and stretching the limits of the range of motion of your neck.

First, stand in front of a mirror and focus directly on your eyes. Turn your body 1/4 rotation to the right so that your left side is toward the mirror, and you are looking over your left shoulder at your eyes. Now turn your body the other way, so that your right side is toward the mirror, and you are looking over your right shoulder. Continue to rotate your body back and forth in place, noticing that the body is turning while the head remains fixed in space. Try to turn the body far enough to each side to reach the absolute limit of the range of motion of the neck.

Since the head never turns, we are only working on the "focused" portion of the turn during this part of the exercise.

Note: Using a mirror is preferrable, because you can pay attention to how you look and correct yourself as you go through the exercise. However, if you don't have a mirror, simply pick a spot in front of you which is roughly at your eye level.

Exercise 2B
Re-focusing the spot.

The purpose of this exercise is to learn how to complete a full rotation, while maintaining focus on the spot for the maximum possible amount of time. As a result, you will also be teaching yourself how to refocus the spot very quickly.

Again, stand in front of a mirror and focus on your eyes. This exercise takes place in 3 phases:

(1) Slowly turn your body a 1/4 rotation to the left, while maintaining focus on your eyes. You are now looking over your right shoulder at yourself.

(2) Now quickly turn another 1/2 rotation to the left (same direction), while also turning your head sharply from the right shoulder to the left. This is the portion of the turn where you will have to momentarily lose eye contact with yourself, while your head and body spin around. When this portion of the turn is complete, you will once again be focused on your spot, but this time looking over your left shoulder.

(3) After refocusing your spot, slowly finish the last 1/4 to the left, returning your body to its starting position, while maintaining focus on your spot.

Notice that phase 1 and 3 are to be taken slowly and methodically, while phase 2 is to be taken quickly with a swift, sharp motion. The biggest mistake of most novices is to begin turning the head too soon... be sure that during phase 1, you retain your focus on your spot until the neck has reached its absolute limit of range of motion!

Repeat the exercise, this time turning to the right. The right turn should be the identical reverse of the left turn. Don't forget that all turns should be practiced equally in both directions, so for every time you repeat this exercise with a right turn, you should also repeat it with a left turn! As you get better, you can increase the number of turns you take in a row. For example, try 2 turns in a row to the right, followed by 2 turns in a row to the left. Each week, add an extra turn.

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