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TURNS AND SPINS IN DANCING

Turns and Turn Techniques

It can be frustrating trying to understand written descriptions of turns and turn techniques. Below we briefly describe different turns:

Chaine Turns - The chaine turn is also a progressive turn that effects a full rotation for every two steps taken. The turn begins with a forward step taken to extended third dance position. Next, bring the back foot forward while turning one-quarter of a turn, landing in first dance position (feet closed). Without stepping, change weight as you rotate another three-quarters of a turn to complete the full 360-degree rotation. Step forward to extended third dance position with the original foot. Thus the turn is one-quarter, then three-quarters.

Fan spin – It is a stationary turn on one foot with the other foot in un-weighted second position.

Paddle turn - Also called jazz pivots. The paddle turn is a stationary turn that rotates around one predominantly weighted and centralized foot using the second foot to push off or paddle around the stationary foot.

Pirouette turn - A pirouette is at least one full turn on one foot with the other foot in a raised position.

Pivot turns - The pivot turn is a progressive turn that effects half of a rotation with each step. These can be chained together to produce a series of half turns. In the pivot turn, the feet stay oriented in extended third dance position. While turning in this fashion, the thighs should stay close together in a scissors-like fashion. It is important to avoid spreading your legs to a wide second position during the turns.

Spin turn - Also called platform turn or pencil turn. It is a stationary turn on one foot with the other foot in un-weighted first position.

Twist turn - This should probably be called "untwist turn". One leg is hooked behind the other or crossed in front of the other, resulting in the feet being in a locked position. The turn is made so as to untwist.

Spiral turn - A spiral turn is a popular and a necessary basic action in Latin dancing. There are two ways to perform the spiral - from a forward walk position and from a delayed walk, or CBMP (counter-body movement position). Although the delayed walk is more technically correct, it is also the more difficult of the two to achieve. Although the forward walk will have you effectively turning on a flat foot, it is easier and good to practice before attempting it from a delayed position.

Below are instructions on performing a spiral turn from a forward walk position:
- Align both feet on the floor so that each has their own separate "track" of baseboards. With feet together, your tracks should be parallel and adjacent.
- Begin by stepping forward with your right foot. Place it on the same track as your left, so that you are effectively on one line. Your weight should be fully over your right foot.
- Keep your upper body facing forward. There should be a moderate amount of torque in your body due to the position. Allow the release of this torque to power your turn to the left.
- Turn to the left. Make sure you keep your left foot in contact with the floor. It should remain pointed and in the same spot throughout your turn.
- End with weight still on your right leg and your left leg bent and crossed over your right. You may repeat this spiral turn to your right by collecting your feet and beginning with left foot forward.



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