6 Tips to Master Turns and Head Spins
Nothing can put you off your performance like feeling nauseous mid-spin.
Since posting my requested video on how not to get dizzy when turning and spinning, I have received many more suggestions on how to improve turns and head spins. In this post, we look at 6 new ways to perfect your turns and spins.
Are turns a traditional part of Middle Eastern dance?
Whilst spins and turns have been popular in Middle Easter dance for centuries, it seems to be becoming more rigourous, more dramatic and even a crucial move for all belly dancers to perfect.
As early as the 12th century, Sufis were using spins to embrace ritual trances. Women of the Gulf states flicked their hair to excite soldiers before going to war – a dance style we now call Khaleegy. Many dancers of the golden age of Egyptian dance studied ballet too, bringing a whole new repertoire of moves. And these days, we see dancers spin and spin and spin and drop in a dramatic ending to their choreographed performances.
So how can you perfect your turns and head spins?
Spotting is a technique coming from ballet where you look at a point directly in front of you and look at that point for as long as possible when you turn. This means your head is the last part of your body to rotate in a turn, and has to move quickly to find that spot again before the next turn commences.
When spotting, make sure you:
Look at a point up high, rather than on the floor, this will help to keep your head up and your posture tall.
Choose a point that is not moving. Looking at something in a mirror will be sure to send you off balance.
Spot in the direction that you are going. For some turns, like chaine’s you will be moving down a room or stage so that spotting at one point in front is not appropriate. In this case, you can look in the direction that you are going. Again, taken from ballet, this technique will help you get to your destination in a straight line. Where the eyes go, your feet will follow. This technique is best used if you have a lot of space for your turns.
2) The Vortex
Sufi dancing, uses spins as a form of trance. Instead of spotting to something in space around you, you can keep your gaze open but fixed on your hand up in front of you. This creates your own sense of space in your own body.
Often dancers use turns at the end of the show, and anyone who has tried this mastery may be able to guess why. For many of us, it is when we stop turning that we feel dizzy. Here are some tips to help you recover after your turns.
Ballerinas will squeeze this glute muscles to help them stop at an exact place after a turn. This will help you to stop in the correct place and also give grace and elegance to your ending.
Sufi dancers end their performances by looking at a spot on the ground until they restabilise. This can help you come back into the space around you and your proprioception.
I often massage my temples to help me refocus. This is not something you would do in a show, but is great if you are practising as it rebalances your body in space.
4) Hair Spins and Flicks
So how about when your head is also moving in a turn? Head spins and hair flicks are a beautiful and popular part of belly dancing, but we cannot spot when doing these moves as our head is constantly moving. In this scenario, the best way to gain your balance and control is, you guessed it, practice.
5) Ear Unlock
Some teachers practise bouncing through turns to readjust your ears mid-turn. The theory behind this is that the fluid in your ear will rebalance, helping you to balance too.
As with perfecting any new technique, it is best practised in a relaxed manner. Start small with one or two turns and gradually build up. Keep breathing and enjoy the process.
Thank you so much to everyone who shared their tips, advice and experience for us all to share and learn from.
How about you, what are your techniques for improving turns and head spins? Do you have any that are not listed here? Please let us know in the comments below.