# Spinning Ballerina Illusion

June 25, 2007

I love this one. Which direction is our gal spinning: clockwise or counter-clockwise?

Look closely. You’ll initially see her on her left foot spinning clockwise, or on her right foot spinning counter-clockwise. Look again. Try to mentally change the direction. Ride that line and see if you can control what you see. If you find it difficult to reverse the direction of her spin, concentrate on switching her feet.

Upon careful observation of her shadow, you’ll see that she is in fact on her left foot, spinning clockwise.

For a frame-by-frame analysis, check out this.

Source: kisrael

For a feline twist on this classic, check out the Spinning Cat Illusion.

mike June 25, 2007 at 6:55 pm

hmmm… i immediately see spinning on left foot, clockwise.

pirco June 26, 2007 at 10:30 am

wow. trippy. a good way to see her “switch feet” is to watch her from the very corner of your eye. if you look really far to the right – with her image in the very corner of your eye, you might see her spin the other way!

problem is: now I can’t “make” here spin the right way again!!

wow!!

pirco June 26, 2007 at 10:31 am

oh, and – yes – THINK that she is spinning counter-clock wise.

Luke June 26, 2007 at 10:37 pm

This should be categorized under Illusions: Expert Level

Ben Jahn June 26, 2007 at 10:43 pm

Jace,

I effin love you man. I feel like my IQ is 10 pts higher since I started looking at your blog every day…

xoxo

Uri Kalish September 15, 2007 at 8:57 am

This is MY theory:

It’s just a shadow. You can’t really tell if the image is facing forward or backward, but since we are used to people looking at us, our first impression is that the dancer is looking at us. The dancer’s leg is moving left, stops, right, stops etc. If on the split-second your eyes saw the image, the dancer’s leg was moving left – you would think that she was spinning clockwise. If it was moving right – you would think that she was spinning counter-clockwise. From that point, your brain had already decided which direction the dancer was spinning and it would be very difficult to change your mind without looking away. It is about the exact split-second your eyes first saw the image.

How’s my theory?

jaced.com September 15, 2007 at 2:30 pm

@Uri: I don’t think anybody would disagree with you. The silhouette of the girl only gives us two dimensions (x- and y-axes). The third dimension, on the z-axis, is subjective.

jaced.com October 11, 2007 at 10:35 am

An interesting observation posted on the Herald Sun:

THE Right Brain vs Left Brain test … do you see the dancer turning clockwise or anti-clockwise?

If clockwise, then you use more of the right side of the brain and vice versa.

Most of us would see the dancer turning anti-clockwise though you can try to focus and change the direction; see if you can do it.

LEFT BRAIN FUNCTIONS
uses logic
detail oriented
facts rule
words and language
present and past
math and science
can comprehend
knowing
acknowledges
order/pattern perception
knows object name
reality based
forms strategies
practical
safe

RIGHT BRAIN FUNCTIONS
uses feeling
“big picture” oriented
imagination rules
symbols and images
present and future
philosophy & religion
can “get it” (i.e. meaning)
believes
appreciates
spatial perception
knows object function
fantasy based
presents possibilities
impetuous
risk taking

Andrew July 1, 2008 at 2:53 pm

If you want to change it you have to stare at the feet and I mean the the real one anf the one on the ground that is a shawdow to change it between the two but you need to consin trait I am only 11 and I can do it
I got permission dont worry

emily July 1, 2008 at 4:53 pm

how cooool is this i love this test its spookyyyyyyyyy!

Anna July 29, 2008 at 1:41 am

Actually, you can switch the direction you perceive the shadow to be spinning in as well. Try to see her spin in the opposite direction of her shadow – that’s my favourite.

Ben Wood November 20, 2008 at 10:08 am

this picture took me into a loop for a few secs when i first saw it 2 years ago and i didnt know how to change the direction. I tried for 3 days looking at it and trying to but always failed. Now that im 16 and i FINALLY found it again i can do it. What i do is when her feet become one when they reach the “12 o’clock” position i think of her spinning counter-clockwise or clockwise, whatever direction i choose and now i can do it when ever i wish

Steve Smith March 2, 2009 at 10:05 pm

The shadow of the outside foot does not indicate clockwise direction. When the shadow appears, that’s when the foot is AWAY from the observer. When the shadow disappears, the foot is toward the observer. That can only happen in a counterclockwise movement. If it was a REFLECTION, it might work as clockwise; but not a shadow. She looks good either way!

CyberG4 October 10, 2009 at 3:07 pm

As Steve Smith pointed out, what you are stating as the “actual” direction she is rotating is incorrect. She is spinning counter-clockwise on her right foot.
How you can tell is based on that you can see the shadow enter the bottom of the frame and move from right to left. This is the point where the foot is further back in 3D space, allowing the shadow to be further back in 3D space (thus higher in the 2D image). As the foot comes forward the shadow moves forward in 3D space, (moving down in the 2D image), and moves out of frame. Thus the ballerina is spinning on her right foot, counterclockwise.

LamiaAmos February 5, 2010 at 5:57 pm

its spinning both for me, but when u look closely at the torso, u can see that she is shirtless

guinness April 24, 2010 at 3:40 pm

I’m stuck in her spinning clockwise and then she switches to counter-clockwise never completing a turn… this is awesome!

me. May 20, 2010 at 5:36 pm

i first thought that she was spinning clockwise and when i concentrated on her shadow the direction seemed to change.

Andrew May 29, 2010 at 3:15 pm

Is it bad that the first thing I noticed is that whoever created the original 3D model gave her very distinct nipples?

Joe June 4, 2010 at 2:05 am

It doesn’t look like she’s spinning either direction. It looks like she’s on a swivel turning back and forth.

Marjorie June 7, 2010 at 6:35 am

When I look away or get distracted away from the image like reading the caption underneath it…thats when she spins the other way. I look away again and shes spinning right again. It gives me a headache.

Toothfairy June 17, 2010 at 3:27 pm

haha I’ve got it so she keeps swapping legs over and over with doing a complete rotation, just imagine her leg going behind her leg each time and not in front of it.

Tessa June 18, 2010 at 9:50 pm

I can make her go either way I want without looking away or blinking, it’s sooo awesome. All I do is unfocus my eyes when her outstretched leg is on one side, and lean my head in the opposite direction a little and she moves that way. I focus my eyes on her again and when her leg touches the other side I unfocus and repeat the process, I can make it look like she doesn’t do a full rotation at all if I want. I love this thing hehe.

T-Killah July 13, 2010 at 2:20 am

she was spinning right at first, but i cant see it that way anymore :’(

chuck July 14, 2010 at 11:51 pm

took a few tries but i gotter….

looks like she’s got a nice body… probably a butterface though

mark wilcox July 25, 2010 at 10:50 am

If you cover up the shadows with your hand it is much easier to make her spin whichever way you want. Looking straight on usually makes it clockwise where out of the corner of your eye makes it counterclockwise.

Vishvak July 31, 2010 at 8:21 pm

Strange, for me she is going both ways.

rui August 4, 2010 at 6:16 am

The best way to “switch” direction (control your brain/switch from left to right hemisphere): concentrate on her supporting feet shadow and when it becomes “smaller” imagine it rotating the other way. You can make her turn side to side making only half turn!

me September 23, 2010 at 10:39 pm

I hate how left-brained I am!

paisley November 25, 2010 at 6:47 am

every 14 rotations, she switches directions. it’s a loop.

anonymous January 10, 2011 at 2:43 am

try looking at just the legs. scroll down the screen till you can only see the legs. You get an entirely different illusion, where the leg swings left and right.

ToxicDL March 11, 2011 at 12:37 pm

She isn’t, in fact, spinning at all. your mind MAKES you think she is spinning. Since it is only a silhouette you cannot see which arm is crossing over the body, or which arm is going behind the body. If you focus long enough, you’ll notice that all she is doing is swinging her leg back and forth. It is basically an image flipping back and forth, creating the illusion of spinning. This is why the mind can see both ways of spinning, because it imagined the arms crossing over or behind the body- because that’s what we see in reality. Our left brain says “She has to be spinning, there’s no way she isn’t” you can force yourself to see both ways, and even change the direction. (Because your mind IS changeable, just as you can make yourself sick, or you can overcome fears) So the answer is: she isn’t spinning at all!

Coco35840 June 24, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Well I can make her go anyway i want when i want to, all you do is focus really hard on “make her go left/right” in your mind real hard, it work really good for me

Ocean November 20, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Kay, all I can see is an animation that first turns on (or vica versa) left foot clockwise then right foot counterclockwise. My mind changes nothing. The animation changes on its own.

??? April 22, 2012 at 9:32 am

i can see her spinning both ways and just wagging her foot back and forth

Dylan June 14, 2012 at 1:37 pm

I don’t see the feet I actually see her go to the right then go back to the left.