Physics and fouettés

I’ve been a Ukrainian dancer for 18 years. To me, one of the most challenging things is turning, especially when in an ensemble where you all have to look identical. Your face has to be the front at the same time as the person beside you. Your foot has to be to the side (and turned out!) at the same time as the person beside you. Your right pinky has to be in the same position as the person beside you.

Not only are you thinking about perfect placement, you’re spinning round and round and round. You’re trying not to fall over. And of course, you’re smiling.

A fouetté, meaning “whipped” in French, is a type of ballet turn. This TED-Ed Original teaches you the physics of fouettés.

In this video, the dancer does a poor job of “spotting” her head. Spotting is an important technique dancers use to turn. It keeps you from getting dizzy and helps your momentum. To spot your head while turning, keep your eyes fixed on one area (or “spot”) as long as possible before whipping your head to find that area again.

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