"Dancing Tid-bits" Issue #87, Thursday, Jan 31, 2002
Alemana and Three Alemanas, part I
Alemana, I am told, simply means in German, a turn under the arm. I wish it
was as simple as that! So this was the question answered by a Champion a
Q. What is the difference, if any, between "Alemana" and "Underarm turn"?
A. Alemana has (steps 4 to 6 for the lady) 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.
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 Johnson.
So let's help a beginner student and assume we are starting from Fan position:
Man: Man simply does 6 steps 1. LF forward 2. RF in place 3. Close LF to RF slightly back and then 4. RF back 5. LF in place 6. Close RF to LF. Of course the timing remains 2 3 41
Lady: (6 steps starting from Fan Pos) It is the ladies steps that make Alemana turn the "Alemana". She will 1. close RF to LF (count 2) 2. step forward LF (count 3) 3. Step forward RF (count 41). It is at this time I think the real Alemana starts as she starts to turn under the man's raised left arm. At this time she has made a 3/8 turn to right between step 3 and 4. Now, step 4. LF forward then turn 1/2 to right (count 2&). 5. RF forward and turn 3/8 to right (count 3&) 6. LF forward (count 41). Here the "&" counts are being used to "tick and turn" on the ball of the foot, foot flat? using the later 1/2 of the beat. It is a good idea to learn all this by studying "practice alignments" Starting the alemana in Fan, man facing the wall and lady facing against LOD. Man's alignments do not change. Alignments for the Lady: on step 1, 2 and 3 she is simply going forward facing against LOD, after she has turned right 3/8 between 3 and 4, she faces DC on step 4. Step 5 is DW against LOD and the step 6 is facing Center again (kind of).
Notice that as the lady starts to do an Alemana turn, she first 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. 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, 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.
My intention was to write an article on Three Alemanas but then I thought let's talk about the Alemana first, so next time. We have 10 inches of Snow overnight here in Detroit, it is beautiful and my heart goes out to Afghan people. Best Wishes, Max
Questions and comments to Dancemax@aol.com, thank you.