Dancemax Letter # 26, Thursday Nov 23, 2000, HAPPY THANKSGIVING
Teaching Latin; Alemana
When teaching Waltz or any other Ballroom dance for that matter, No Problem.
The technique is standard, nothing changes and if any questions, go to the
technique book, it is all there. Generally speaking, Latin is another story.
Whenever I take a Latin lesson, it boggles my mind. I come out thoroughly
confused because it is never the same, not even once. I guess the reason is
obvious, Latin is so versatile and free from technical restrictions that
whatever looks good, goes. So a champion teacher can bring his or her
own style and technique into it and make it look real "hot," while a regular,
traditional and old time teacher cannot put so much "punch" into it. The
question though is: Is it good for our students specially so for the beginner
ones to be exposed to all that Jazz? Let's discuss Alemana movement in Rumba
Anything that comes from an expert, naturally is more credible. So, for today's controversy I have chosen a "Q and A" from Donald Johnson and Katarzyna Kozak, the United States Latin American Finalists, British-Open to the World Rising Star Latin Champions.
Throughout my training I have seen many different versions of Alemana movement as done by the Lady and even perhaps the Man. Please read
The following question was asked by Sergio at Dance Vision 2000: Community , Let us see how Donald and Katarzyna answered Sergio's question:
Q. Can you, please, tell me the difference, if any, between "Alemana" and "Underarm"? - Sergio
A. Alemana has 1/8 then 1/2 then 3/8 turn which means that it works a little toward and then away and then back towards the man. The underarm turn works more like a spot turn (switch turn, they call it now) with man holding the ladies hand, so it remains on one line. Feel free to call anytime. I hope that this helps. (Donald Johnson and Katarzyna).
Dancemax: I believe that the above description is for an Alemana started from an open facing position. If started from Fan, there would be another 1/4 turn added to initial 1/8 as given by Donald.
Important: See what Donald is saying. First lady goes to the man, then away and then back to him. I call that a "Triangle Pattern." Many other styling differences can be considered here. For example, when lady is making above turns she uses a brushing technique, (I hope you know what I am talking about, if not, see Corky and Shirley's video on Rumba). Alemana turns without brushing look better and faster to me. Another point that quite often is not emphasized is the way lady places her Left foot forward and across when initiating the alemana turn (step 4, ISTD). This is a 'Delayed Forward Walk, Knee Straight" and this helps the timing and movement. Also I think this is a short step and where she turns 1/2 to R and then follows a longer step Right foot forward, before she turns again 3/8 to right and meets the man (both coming forward). Many dancers feel a little awkward with this movement but it is a wonderful feeling, both coming forward, if you intend to follow this with a Natural Opening Out Movement as in Open or Advanced hip twist or Spiral . However if Hand to Hand is to follow, man should lead lady to step to side on the last step rather than forward.
So much should suffice for now. There is so much more to it, but dont Let Gore take it all away, until next time....max
Questions and comments to Dancemax@aol.com, thank you.