Does a visual reference help ballet dancers turn more successfully?

Schärli, Andrea; Haber, Catherine; Klostermann, André (2023). Does a visual reference help ballet dancers turn more successfully? Human movement science, 88(103062), p. 103062. Elsevier 10.1016/j.humov.2023.103062

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In dance, performing multiple rotations around the longitudinal axis is a complex task that can only be accomplished proficiently by highly skilled dancers. However, this extraordinary skill has been investigated sparsely. The few studies to date have focused on the biomechanical analysis of ballet rotations. However, none have investigated the influence of visual information on continuous rotations, such as Fouettés or à la Seconde turns. Therefore, the present study aims to examine the role of a visual reference on balance control and the dance-specific head coordination - spotting - during turning performance of highly skilled ballet dancers. To this end, 12 participants performed 12 Fouettés (females) or à la Seconde turns (males) with and without a visual reference. As dependent measures, we analysed balance control (i.e., supporting foot path length), spotting duration, head isolation, and orientation (i.e., deviation of pelvis from the front). A linear mixed model was performed to analyse the influence of the visual conditions overall and over the continued performance of 12 consecutive rotations. The results revealed that overall, path length was significantly smaller in the condition without a visual reference. Spotting duration and head isolation did not differ significantly between conditions. Moreover, dancers oriented themselves better towards the front in the condition with a visual reference. When looking closer into the progression of performance over each consecutive rotation, highly skilled ballet dancers significantly decreased the supporting foot path length, and improved orientation when turning with a visual reference. On the other hand, without a visual reference, the dancers increased the spotting duration over time. Additionally, dancers increased head isolation towards the end of the turns in both conditions. These findings suggest that a visual reference helps ballet dancers sustain performance of consecutive rotations, mainly in optimising balance control and orientation. Thus, the more rotations a ballet dancer must turn, the more relevant a visual reference becomes for sustaining successful performance.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Sport Science (ISPW)
07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Sport Science (ISPW) > Movement and Exercise Science
07 Faculty of Human Sciences > Institute of Sport Science (ISPW) > Sport Pedagogy

UniBE Contributor:

Schärli, Andrea, Haber, Catherine Michelle, Klostermann, André


700 Arts > 790 Sports, games & entertainment








Pubmed Import

Date Deposited:

26 Jan 2023 14:50

Last Modified:

13 Mar 2023 00:14

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PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Balance Ballet Fouetté Orientation Pirouette Rotation Spotting à la Seconde




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