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DANCE LESSON OF THE MONTH - SPINS & TURNS
Of the many reasons why people fall off balance during turns, by far the most
prevalent is the tendency to pull away from the axis of rotation. This normally happens
when the dancer does not have an understanding, or at least an awareness, of the
axis that the body should be rotating around. It will therefore help you considerably to
gain an understanding of axes, and ultimately to develop an awareness and a sensitivity to
the axis of specific turns.
Let's imagine for a second that we're looking at an object from the top view as it
rotates. Think of a circle as representing the path that the object rotates around, while
the center point of the circle represents the axis. See illustration:
For the duration of the lesson, we will be discussing rotation in these terms.
The Three Types
There are 3 categories of axis around which your body will rotate during any kind of
- Center Axis
- Left- and Right-Side Axes
- Outside Axes
(1) THE CENTER AXIS
Spot rotation with body weight held between feet.
The center axis runs straight through the middle of the body, from the top of the head,
down the spine and straight down from the pelvis to the floor between the feet.
When you turn around your center axis, one side of the body moves forward while the
other side moves backward (see diagram). With both sides of the body moving in opposite
directions, the weight remains split between the feet.
It should be noted that most turns that use spot rotation are taken with the weight
held over one foot. Rotation around the center axis is therefore fairly rare, being used
only for specialized types of turn such as the "Twist Turn".
(2) THE RIGHT- AND LEFT-SIDE AXES
Spot rotation with body weight held over one foot.
Pencil Turn, Spot Turn, Oustide Swivels, Ochos.
The left-side axis runs through the body from the left shoulder through the left hip
and left foot. The right-side axis runs through the body from the right shoulder through
the right hip and right foot. (Left-side axis is shown)
When you turn with the weight held over one foot, you will use the axis according to
which foot you are standing on: Turning on the left foot uses the left-side axis, while
turning on the right foot uses the right-side axis. Since most non-progressive turns occur
with the weight over one foot, these are the axes which you will be using most often.
The most common mistake when attempting to turn over one foot is to use the center axis
instead of the side axis. This will inevitably cause you to fall off balance, forcing you
to take an extra step. Exercises at the end of this lesson will focus on correcting this
(3) THE OUTSIDE AXES
Pivots, Chainč Turns, Three-Step Turn, Waltz Box Step, Viennese Left Cross Turn.
The outside axis is completely outside the body. Instead of rotating around itself, the
body revolves around a fixed point in space, much like the Earth revolves around the sun.
When the axis is outside the body, the body must rotate progressively. The turn
therefore occurs between two steps, or over the course of more than two steps. It is not
possible to take progressive rotation while staying on one foot; The concepts are
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