Which way is the dancer spinning… clockwise or counter-clockwise?

Some people will see her turning counter-clockwise, while others may see her turning clockwise. Why is that? What kind of sorcery is this? We need explanations now!


Here’s some brief history about this. Skip to the next part if you’re not into historical stuff.

The Spinning Dancer, also known as the silhouette illusion, is a kinetic, bistable optical illusion resembling a pirouetting female dancer. The illusion, created in 2003 by web designer Nobuyuki Kayahara, involves the apparent direction of motion of the figure.

In popular psychology, the illusion has been incorrectly identified as a personality test that supposedly reveals which hemisphere of the brain is dominant in the observer. Under this wrong interpretation, it has been popularly called the Right Brain–Left Brain test, and was widely circulated on the Internet during late 2008 to early 2009.


Check the explanation below, where two additional representations of the same animation were synchronised and positioned next to the original.

Not good enough? Here’s another one!

It turns out, since the spinning dancer is just a black silhouette, it does not give our brain much details of the body. Hence, our brain tends to “fill in the missing information” and assume the direction it is turning to. Bizarre right? Now that it’s finally explained, I can finally sleep in peace!

What are your thoughts about this? Let us know in the comments! Cheers! 

One Comment

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  1. actually it’s the other way around, she turns counter-clockwise, refer to shadow for reference. it is realistic only when you see it turn counter-clockwise (yes, i can switch between them, so i checked)

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Written by Kelly

Kelly studies Bachelor of Digital Media at RMIT, Melbourne, Australia. She's a graphic designer, webmanager, social media manager and writer for Psych2Go. She also has great passion for doodling, reading and web design.

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