Which way is the dancer turning?


All right, readers, opinions, please. Which way do you see the dancer turning? This psychological study fascinates me. My first reaction to seeing this, years back, had me thinking, oh, clockwise. Without question. I felt like surely it was a trick question. And, further, suggestions that I could make it go the other way seemed just as preposterous.

But the secret, of course, is not to strive, not to stare really hard, but to un-stare. Un-strive. Relax your focus. Like with those computer generated 3-D images from the 1990’s that for some reason, I just love. I’m crazy about the way I seem to slip into it, inside that world, just like you can sink into a good, old-fashioned novel, letting the story wholly absorb you.


So, I un-thought about it.

And there you have it, I’m making the dancer turn counter-clockwise. And now it floors me that 1) I couldn’t do it before and 2) that I could have ever thought she was going clockwise and 3) how easy, and yet paradoxically, how difficult it is to make her shift movement.

I love this kind of stuff, messing with my brain in this way, and then figuring out what it says about me. It is argued by many that if you made it go clockwise, then you use more the right side of your brain. Counter-clockwise means you favor the left side.

Do you agree? Here’s a generic recap of what the two sides bring to the equation.


  • uses feeling                                    uses logic
  • “big picture” oriented                   detail oriented
  • imagination rules                          facts rule
  • symbols and images                     words and language
  • present and future                        present and past
  • philosophy & religion                    math and science
  • can “get it” (i.e. meaning)             can comprehend
  • believes                                           knows
  • knows object function                  knows object name
  • presents possibilities                    forms strategies
  • impetuous                                      practical


9 thoughts on “Which way is the dancer turning?”

    • Christopher, I tried looking at the shadow like you did, and it happened for me too, switching. Then, ironically, I couldn’t get her to go back and I was getting sort of seasick trying. But I looked in the opposite, upper hand corner, and bingo, switched back to clockwise.

      A funny thing, what our eyes see and what our brains are telling us our eyes see.

      Thanks for the comment – and good luck on your Kickstart campaign! For others, Christopher is a ballet class accompanist and composer; ballet teachers might want to take a look at the ballet class CD he’s creating: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/765646785/new-music-for-ballet-class

  1. At first, she was spinning clockwise, and continued spinning clockwise no matter what I did. I even tried looking at the shadow only, and still, only clockwise. I then showed my boyfriend, who immediately said that she was spinning counter-clockwise. I wasn’t seeing the counter-clockwise spinning until I stepped away from the screen and saw it from a few feet away, without really focusing. Then it was counter-clockwise! It continued like that for a bit until out of nowhere it was clockwise again.
    These brain illusion things are fun! Still don’t know for sure if I’m left or right brained, I love both feelings, imagination and philosophy and math, science and logic. Who knows?

    • I enjoyed reading your response and hearing about your experience, Kate! I love these things, too, and I, too seem to fall in the middle of right vs left brain. Or in both of them at the same time.

      I’m very suggestible; I wonder if I don’t see the other way because I know someone else is seeing it that way.

    • Oh, LOL, KitTeaCat! Great dancer reply.

      I had a bad turning day in ballet class last night. Some days, you just know it, and wisely ratchet things down to single everything. And even then they were sloppy.

      Do you suppose I can blame it on this blog? ; )

  2. For me, she turned clockwise and I could not make her turn anti-clockwise. I tried every little trick you guys mentioned. She kept turning clockwise while I stared and stared, till I thought I’d get a migraine. By accident, I moved the cursor to her shadow, and when I looked at the curser (not at the shadow, not at the ballerina) she began to turn anti-clockwise. Now I can make her change directions, but I still need the cursor and I can’t do that for a long time, because these things really give me migraine.

    (Just in case anyone wondered: I gave up my dance blog. Two blogs were one too many, and, while I love reading English I am not good at writing English. )

    • Paulina, loved hearing about your experience! Interestingly, just now I was trying to make her switch back and forth, and she was being very persistent about not switching. But, tricky dancer, she did it when I blinked. So. That’s a new “way to make her switch” that I hadn’t noted before.

      Sorry to hear you gave up your dance blog, but I can so appreciate the challenge of trying to do two blogs (heck, even one!), and wow, particularly in two different languages. Blogging is a full-time job ((she says, wearily)).


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