Headspins are one of the ultimate b-boy and b-girl tricks, and seem to defy the laws of physics. But since dancers don't usually find themselves balancing on top of their skulls, achieving a headspin can feel pretty unattainable. To better understand the best approaches for this advanced move, we asked Alex Welch (aka B-Girl Shorty) and Simrin Player (aka B-Girl Simi) to give us some tips.
Even though there are tons of tutorials a YouTube click away, both Player and Welch stress that headspins are an advanced and difficult trick that can't be learned in a week. “Working your way up to a headspin is critical in order to develop the correct technique,"
Player says. Always spin on the center of your head—if you're too far forward or back, you could twist your neck. “You want to find the 'sweet' spot right in the middle," Welch says.
Both b-girls insist on wearing a beanie while they spin, and only do it on smooth, even surfaces. The beanie helps you spin faster by reducing friction, and it cushions your head. A stable surface allows you to keep your body straight up and down, protecting your neck.
A beanie also helps prevent hair loss associated with headspins—though your scalp will probably still peel. “Don't freak out! It just looks like dandruff," Welch says. “And your head will burn a little bit, too."
Safely executing a headspin requires three essential elements: balance, speed and form. “It's like you're a top," Welch says. “You have to spin fast enough to maintain your balance, and you have to engage your core and legs so you have control over your body."
Like any advanced dance step, the foundation has to be correct for the trick to work. Before you even begin to rotate, you should be comfortable with headstands. “I was told I wasn't allowed to spin until I could hold a headstand for 5 to 10 minutes, and a headstand without hands for one minute," Welch says. Player advises beginners to start and end their spin in a headstand: “It helps you focus on the spin," she says.
From your headstand, split your legs in a wide V-shape. Player suggests pushing your heels out away from you to keep your legs straight and even. Then, begin slow rotations, pushing off from your hands and moving your body as a single unit. This push-off is called a “tap." “It's important to have your hands in contact with the floor throughout these slow rotations," Player says. Eventually, you can advance to quarter-rotations using your hands and on up to “glides": multiple rotations without your hands touching the ground. Player suggests practicing with your legs in a fixed position for maximum stability.
Once you've safely achieved multiple rotations, you can start stylizing your spins with different arm positions, or ways to get up from and down to the floor. But the real joy is in letting loose and spinning. “It's the best feeling in the world," Welch says.