Turning (Changing the Angle)

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DT: Perhaps before talking specifically about turning, we should mention the idea of frame here. Helmut can you tell us what frame is?

Helmut: As long as I don't change the shape of my arms in relationship to my body, my partner should stay in front of me. So when I am turning in this basic turn I am turning everything together, including my arms. And my partner is doing the same, so we are moving together.

DT: Ok, so your torso is turning but your arms...

Helmut: ...they are not changing shape.

DT: It would appear you are doing quarter turns or 90 degree turns here. Is that the most usual turn in salsa dancing or are you doing that for illustration purposes?

Helmut: No, I am doing that for illustration purposes because it is easier to see. A turn can be anything -- 45 degrees, 90 degrees, 180 degrees, whatever. Whatever the leader decides limited only by what the couple can comfortably do.

The gent changes the angle
by reaching...

...and then closing his feet.
The lady stays in front
of him.

DT: Kana, how is he leading you to turn?

Kana: He is keeping me right in front of him, so wherever he goes, I try to keep my chest right in front of his chest. Follower follows leader, right in front of him.

DT: He initiates the turning, is that right?

Kana: Yes. And the footwork timing remains the same, exactly the same, "forward back together, back forward together" regardless where he turns.

DT: Helmut, is the rhythm of the feet the same as on the forward back basic, that is, "step step step hold?"

Helmut: Yes, that never changes. [Ed: See The Keys, below, for a clarification.]

The Keys:
The leader and follower keep their frame. That is, they keep their arms still in relationship to their bodies. So, when the man rotates his body, the lady feels the shift immediately and moves to keep her chest directly in front of the man's chest. The concept of frame, or "keeping frame", sounds simple but it is deep. Frame takes a long time to develop well and it is perhaps the largest root to successful couple dancing.

The leader should not attempt to lead more than the ability of the follower will allow her to do. It is the leader's responsibility to adapt to the follower. Here, if she is only easy with doing a 90 degree turn, the leader should not attempt more than that.

DanceTutor is satisfied to be only 90% correct, because to try to cover all the angles (no pun intended) we feel would overburden new students. But for those willing to have a go at it, here's a further clarification of Helmut's statement that the "step step step hold" timing of the steps never changes. "Step step step hold" does not change in the basic dance, so that is the best statement for salsa 1 purposes. More advanced dancers, however, -- in every dance, not just in salsa -- will vary or syncopate the basic sequence, sometimes very much so. Also, as mentioned on the opening page, salsa may be danced "starting on 2", that is, "hold step step step" rather than "starting on 1", or "step step step hold". Starting on 1 is simpler but both are correct, and either looks and feels almost the same as the other. Beginners may not know if they are starting on 1 or starting on 2, and they do not need to.

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