5, 4, 3, 2, 1. I am a firm believer that turning is a mind game and dancers tend to get frustrated or even scared about turning multiple times. The brain often thinks the more we do, the harder it is. I have found reverse counting has helped dancers to not think about the amount of turns, but focus on elements like spotting, pulling up, straightening the supporting leg, etc.
Next time, try counting backward from 5 and see what happens!
This has to be my favorite! You can either do this with your student or they can find a partner in the class. Partner A will be in front of partner B. Partner A will go on their knees, sitting up, and extend their arm up to sky so their hand is eye level to Partner B’s eyes. Partner B will take a preparation on the count of 7-8 and then a double pirouette on counts 1-2. Partner A will then flash two numbers on the hand that is up in the air on the counts of 1-2. It is Partner B’s job to guess what numbers they saw while spotting. If you want to work on triple pirouette’s then Partner A would flash three numbers and so on. You will see their spot become so clear and crisp because they need laser focus to see those numbers.
This will not help their spot overnight, however, the more you do this exercise, the better. The dancers also think it’s FUN!
Trim the Paper
You will need two neon color, legal size pieces of paper per dancer in the class for this exercise. Have the dancers line up across the room facing the mirror, take one piece of paper and tape it to the mirror right to their eye line. Starting on either side, you will ball change on the counts 7-8, working on doubles first (even for advanced) pirouette on 1-2 spotting the piece of paper on the mirror. You will let them try this three times. Then cut that piece of paper in half. Repeat the process. Again, cut that piece of paper in half and repeat. You will cut until till the piece of paper is the size of a pea.
Explain to the dancers that this is how detailed and focused the spot has to be. Redirect them to a smaller target instead of “this wall” or “that poster”. This exercise is very helpful for the advanced dancers when they start changing spots during turns.
Spotting on Stage
Just a small side note that I find helps dancers: It is the dancers job when to spot during their preparation for the turn. They cannot wait till the actual turn itself, it’s too late. To prep your dancers for this, I would have them face all different parts of the room, not just mirror, when they practice.