Thursday, 2 December 2010

Getting dizzy, or not

Most of the time, when my partner leads more than a couple of complete turns in the same direction, I get dizzy. I appreciate a turn or two the other way, to counteract the motion in my inner ear. If it happens that we stop just after the turn - as can happen when someone is showing me or practicing something - then I feel the need to unwind myself before the conversation goes on.

I don't know any way of preventing this - I've been advised to open my eyes, but I can't really tell if this helps or not, and whether I have my eyes closed or open usually depends on other things. Once I notice being dizzy it's too late.

But on this occasion, we went round and round and round and round and round and round really fast in a really tight circle, faster than I had any idea I could go, and then it was the end, and I expected to feel dizzy, and I even said something about it as I was expecting it to hit me, but then I noticed that it sort of hadn't. I did feel a tiny bit dizzy, but what I mostly felt was out of breath.

What I want to know is, why?

Does being hot and out of breath overwhelm it?

I also happen to know that this particular person, besides being a very good dancer, specifically cultivates the ability to make women feel like they've hit it out of the park against good bowling. He's extremely stable, well built, physically fit, and has a particularly firm and reliable embrace. But there are other people who dance very well and have good embraces and I still get dizzy. So, is there something the leader can do, about the way he turns, to prevent the woman getting dizzy?

Was it something to do with the sheer speed? I think the centre of the turn must have been between us rather than centred on him, but I don't remember for sure.

Was it because we happened to be very much on the spot (the floor was nearly empty and it made sense with the music) rather than turning and progressing both at once? Does that make it easier not to be dizzy?

Maybe we just took a lot of small steps to get around the turn and we weren't really turning as much as I thought we were? I didn't dare open my eyes, so I didn't really have the faintest idea where we were in relation to anything except each other. Maybe the world wasn't whizzing past as fast as I imagined.

After we whizzed past the number of turns where I usually would have got dizzy I did notice something rising inside that said "I'm not giving in here". So maybe this sensation caused me to do something physically, I don't know what, that moderated the dizziness? I did think very strongly about dancing towards him, and letting my feet take care of themselves, so maybe there's something there that I can use in future.

Was it because it happened to be at the end of the tanda, and I got to stand still and hug him for a few seconds before having to walk to a chair? But that was exactly when I was expecting to feel dizzy, and I just don't think I really did. Or only a tiny bit.

Peculiar. Hard to know.

[Update: discussion in the comments suggests that high speed is the explanation - if you go fast enough it's easier to recover. But they won't work for the leaf-on-a-stream sort of turn that's much more common in tango]


ghost said...

I normally get dizzy quite easily. However I do a move in Ceroc I've called a Fairytale Hero which is crazy fast, goes around a long time to the point where the background behind the woman literally appears to blur, and yet neither I nor the women I dance this with suffer dizziness at the end.

I'm not sure if this is right, but I've been told that dizziness is due to the fluid in your inner ear getting shaken up. I guess if you apply enough centrifugal force it all goes up one side evenly and stays there so your brain can recalibrate.

Anonymous said...

Could be the speed. The length of time you turn seems to make things worse than the number of turns themselves.

In ballet the dancer "spots" as she turns, avoiding constant spinning of the head. Perhaps closing your eyes replicated this a little. Perhaps the turns were less constant, which gives you a tiny chance to recover.

Joy in Motion said...

One “technique” that many partner dancers use is to either tip or toss their head to the opposite side after exiting a spin. So if you’ve been spinning to your right, move your head slightly to the left when you come out to reorient yourself (obviously tossing your head is not so desirable in tango!). Some people naturally have more ease or difficulty with this than others, and different “tricks” work for different people. Sometimes I think it helps to focus on what your feet are doing and the rhythm of the turn; sometimes this helps to give your body an idea of where you are in space or at least gives you a mental frame of reference.

There’s a book that came out a few years ago called Balance that I found really interesting. Unfortunately it didn’t address spinning, but it did talk about the science of our equilibrium. In case anyone’s interested… Our body certainly is a fascinating and mysterious!

msHedgehog said...

Ghost's theory seems very plausible to me. We were going faster than I had before, and it was a tight turn, and it sounds like that effect is reproducible. Cool.

It's not really like a spin, it's more of a binary orbit. And in tango you can't really move your head, but turning the other way to unwind myself is a version of that.

ghost said...

Sort of like

at 1.12 but faster and longer?

Interestingly my mindset when I lead it is identical to yours.

msHedgehog said...

Well, in close embrace. Fast (stepping every half-beat) and in a very small space. Or I may have been mainly orbiting him, I'm not entirely sure.

David Bailey said...

I know that when I teach giros to Modern Jive followers (who are very used to spins), they tend to get dizzy after only a couple of practices.

So yes, I think it's a combination of "spotting" (which you can't really do in AT) and speed which make the difference.