Unconvinced by the Spinning Girl’s claims that she “did not feel dizzy at all” after turning round and round for a record-breaking period of four hours at the Spring Festival Gala, reporters from Xinhuanet turned to experts to explain this phenomenal accomplishment and/or wonky publicity stunt.
According to Geng Zhitao, who studied neurobiology at Beijing Normal University, the vestibular system is the sensory system responsible for causing people to feel giddy after turning multiple rounds, as well as for inducing migraines. Located deep within the inner ear, it contains numerous fine hairs on the surface of a tract filled with fluid. These hairs, which ripple gently in wave-like movements in the fluid, are connected to the brain through nerve endings; once our heads move, these hairs would also move correspondingly, sending the nerve signals to the brain.
In Geng’s opinion, the girl should feel dizzy after four hours of spinning around, because science.
When she was interviewed by the media after her performance at the Spring Gala, the spinning girl, dubbed “Little Rainbow Flag” by the Chinese press, had a completely normal complexion and did not appear flushed or tired at all.
She said that it wasn’t difficult to keep turning for four hours straight, but it was not something that she could do immediately. “I only started training slowly when I knew that I would be performing at the Spring Festival Gala. If my physical ability keeps up I might even be able to do it for a longer period of time.”
Asked for the secret to her success, she said: “I actually enjoy twirling, it’s a way of keeping myself calm, like meditation.”
Experts believe that this is due to her frequent training as well as some special techniques that she might have employed during the performance. Though her eyes are kept wide open during her twirling movements, a netizen named “Revolucion” (in honour of the obsessive twirling discussion, perhaps?) has pointed out that she spins in a regular, uniform manner. This minimizes drastic changes in the movements of the fine hairs on the vestibular system. At the same time, her eyes are kept trained on the ceiling, which could prevent her from feeling giddy.
In late 2012, she had also twirled in the her aunt and renowned dancer Yang Liping’s signature dance performance “Spirit of the Peacock”, where she played the role of “Time” and twirled more than 3000 rounds in two hours, causing audiences to think that she was a dummy.
By Yuen Sin