Tag Archives: dance

WGN Stops By Viking Gymnastics and Dance!

WGN Stops By!

By Ashlyn Kershner



The WGN van pulls into the parking lot first thing in the morning.

Back in November, WGN Studios dropped by Viking Gymnastics and Dance for their “Around Town” segment. They visited the week of Thanksgiving, when we had many camps and other fun things taking place. Correspondent Ana Belaval spoke to Charlie about her roots and her vision for Viking as well as to April about our thriving tots’ program. Ana was able to observe our gymnastics day camp, team practices, and dance classes, even participating in some!


Why did WGN Choose to Visit Viking?

WGN is a leading news network in Chicago’s, and “Around Town” is one of their more popular segments. In “Around Town”, Ana visits places of interest around the city, reporting on their history, mission, and other fun things about the place. For Viking, that meant talking about our wide variety of programs with lots of fun footage of gymnasts and dancers and Ana having fun with the classes! The segment aired on Tuesday, November 28 during several news hours throughout the day, each covering different bits of footage from the network’s visit.

Ana in dance class

Ana joins in a hip hop class!




What Happened during the Visit?

Charlie gets a mic

The WGN crew hooks Charlie up to a microphone.

In the clips from the segment, you can see Ana in full Viking attire swinging on a high bar and sticking her landing with a big gymnastics stretch, footage of the boys’ and girls’ gymnastics teams practicing on floor, beam, and the boys’ events, Ana’s interview with Charlie about Viking’s story and mission to be inclusive to every possible entry into the worlds of gymnastics aand dance, and her interview with April about the importance of mobility training like our tots’ classes to early childhood development in all areas, not just mobility. We then see Ana participating in a hip-hop class and talking to Charlie about the Viking’s dance program, while Viking Dance director Lynn’s classes practices in the background. Finally, Ana reluctantly climbs into the giant hamster wheel in the gym to be rolled back and forth by Dan and Angie, everyone laughing delightedly, with our gymnastics day camp hard at work and play in the background. It was truly a delightful morning with WGN, and hopefully it’s led more people to check out our facilities and programs. As Charlie says in the clip, we’ve got something for everyone at Viking!

Ana and Charle

Ana and Charlie pose for a picture after their fun and successful interview.


Check out the full series of clips!

Gymnastics and Dance Technique Tips: Spotting

Technique Tip Tuesday:

How to practice spotting to improve your pirouettes, chaînés, and turns of all kinds!
By Lynn Bobzin

One of the first things many of my dance students beg to practice in dance classes is turns. Pirouettes, chaînés, piqué turns, fouetté…the list goes on and on. Dancers love the feeling of spinning. A whirling body in motion requires strength, control, balance and alignment in all the right places. However, one of the most important aspects of turning is also one of the most easily forgotten, and that is spotting.

So what exactly is spotting?

Young Woman Practicing Dance Moves SpottingSpotting is a term dancers use when turning to describe the focus of the eyes. Spotting is finding a fixed focal point in in front of the dancer for his/her eyes to lock onto in order to keep the dancer’s place. Effective spotting can help minimize dizziness after multiple turns.

A favorite book of mine on ballet vocabulary is the “Technical Manual and Dictionary of Classical Ballet” by Gail Grant. According to Grant, spotting is “a term given to the movement of the head and focusing of the eyes in pirouettes, déboulés, fouetté, rond de jambe, en tournant and so on. In these turns the dancer chooses a spot in front and as the turn is made away from the spot, the head is the last to leave and the first to arrive as the body completes the turn. This rapid movement or snap of the head gives the impression that the face is always turned forward and prevents the dancer from becoming dizzy” (p 113).

Ways to Practice:

Place a small sticker or picture on the wall at your eye level or slightly above eye level. Face your spot marker stand a few feet away, and using small steps, slowly begin turning your body with your eyes focused on the spot. As your body continues to turn, keep looking at the spot over your shoulder. Before your body completes the turn, whip your head around to find the spot with your eyes again. Let your body complete the turn, once again facing forwards.

Gymnastics Dance Practice TipsTIP: Remember to keep your body turning at the same speed. Resist the urge to speed up your body during the turn when your head whips around. Your head must always make it back to the front first!

Check out the video tutorial that demonstrates this exercise here.

Once you feel comfortable with spotting, you can begin to use your plié, relevé and snap to your passé for beginning turns. Start with quarter turns, changing your focus with each new facing. For example, when practicing a quarter turn, place a spot on the wall you begin facing as well as the wall you finish facing, making sure you turn your head from one spot to the other without allowing your gaze to linger in between the two.  Work your way up to half turns, and before you know it you are on your way to singles, doubles, triples, and more!

Young girl practicing dance movesOf course practicing at home can never replace the benefits of regular technique classes. If you are interested in learning more about turns or improving your turning skills, a Ballet, Jazz, or Lyrical class would be great to try! Class descriptions can be found on our website and it’s never too late to register for the dance class that is right for you.

Keep practicing your spotting technique, and you will see great improvement in those turns!


Grant, Gail. Technical Manual and Dictionary of Classical Ballet. Dover, 1982.

DanceTutorialsLIVE. “JAZZ DANCE TUTORIAL: Spotting A Turn | Beginner Pirouette Pt 1 Technique w/ Dana Alexa.” YouTube, YouTube, 24 Mar. 2013, www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltpwOaa5P6Q.