"Dancing Tid-bits" Issue #166, Thursday, January 22, 2004
The Back 1/2 of a Turn
It may sound too simplistic but really it is such a poorly understood phenomenon that 80% of even advanced students may not give a satisfactory answer, so why not today?
We are talking about Turns in Ballroom Dancing. Actually this will hold true for all ballroom dances including Viennese Waltz. However for the sake of a clear and better understanding we will pick Waltz for discussion and then you can apply that concept to other dances.
A Natural (or Reverse) turn in Waltz has 6 steps turning 3/4 to right (or left). Simply speaking you split the turn in two parts, a forward half and a back half. The Forward 1/2 may be termed 123 and the back 1/2 as 456 of the Natural Turn. As man, you start facing DW and end facing DC thus making 3/4 turn to right on 2 bars of music.
Forward 1/2 or the 123 of Natural Turn: As man swings forward for 123, (in other words - forward, side, together or RLR-"right left right") he continues to turn on all 3 steps. So he turns about a 1/4 between the first 2 steps and then continues to turn another 1/8 as he is closing feet on the third step.
Back 1/2 or 456 of Natural Turn: Now he does the back 1/2 or 456 which is really the crux of the problem. He is doing LRL. He takes left back, backing LOD and opens up his feet all the way so that on second step his right foot is pointing DC. This way he has completed the 3/8 (half of 3/4) turn to right between the 4th and the 5th step. But due to his relationship with the woman and the dance naturality, his body turns less and is facing somewhere to Center. Now as he closes his left foot to right foot on 6 , all he has to do is to just complete the turn with body. This is what is described in Technique Books as "Body turns less and body completes turn".
Two things for the Ladies: Ladies, please reciprocate and you are using the same technique alternatively. I can assure you, if you understand this and do the following 2 things in turning, he will say "Wow, you are good".
1. Be aware of the above technique as you are making the back 1/2 of the turn. The best way to think about it is, "I want to get out of his way as he comes forward". Of course he has to do the same when you are going forward.
2. Then as you are going forward swing a little more and cover a little extra distance because you have longer distance to go in a forward motion.
This all sounds so basic but isn't that what dancing all about.
In the next few weeks I will to start a series "So, you want to be a Dance Teacher" and I hope it will help those who aspire to be teachers.
With best Wishes, Max