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DANCE LESSON OF THE MONTH - TURNING ACTIONS

The Twisting Action

DEFINITION:
A Twisting Action is a turn taken in a direction opposite the forward foot.

Introduction
The Twisting action is a very simple yet important component in the spectrum of turning actions. It is the foundation of many other turns, including Alemanas, Hockey Sticks, Walkaround (Spot) Turns, and Spirals. Anyone who dances Swing, Hustle or Latin uses the Twisting action in just about everything they do, whether they know it or not.

To familiarize yourself with the Twisting action, step forward with your left foot making sure that the weight is fully committed to the foot. Twist your feet on the floor 1/2 turn to the right, leaving the right foot pointing in place. Then step forward with your right foot, and turn to the left in the same way.

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Where's the Axis?
During the Twisting action, pay very close attention to the alignment of the following 3 points:

axis.gif (18896 bytes)1. The shoulder
2. The hip
3. The ball of the weighted foot.

The axis of rotation is determined by these 3 points, which should all be in perfect vertical alignment, one on top of the other. If you fall off balance during the turn, you do so because you have misaligned one of these three points, which either distorts the axis, or moves the weight off of the standing foot.

Execution
When taking the forward step in preparation for the turn, imagine a single track that both feet will be placed on, almost as though you were walking along a tightrope. Both legs should be turned out at the hip so that you feel a squeeze in your inner thighs and gluteus. The step need not be large, and the weight should move entirely off of the back foot.

Turn the feet 180 in the direction opposite the forward foot. If you step forward on your right foot, the turn is to the left. Conversely, if you step forward on your left foot, the turn is to the right. Maintain the turnout of your legs and feet throughout the turn!

The muscles that generate the movement should be primarily in the ankles and feet. However, other muscles are also active: The inner thighs, stomach and lower back muscles, which work in opposition to the turn to help stop it. This turn should be so fast that the muscles which stop the turn activate in almost the same instant as the muscles that commence it.

Note also that the upper body need not rotate as much as the hips and feet. In fact, limiting the rotation of the upper body creates a look of speed to the turn, as well as helping stop it faster through the opposition of muscles.

By the end of the turn, what began as a forward step has now become a backward step. Therefore, your free foot should end pointing forward. Make sure to keep your center picked up underneath you ribs; Do not slouch or lean. If you are using latin motion, do not relax or settle the hip until after the turn is complete and balance has been established with the center picked up.

Variations of the Twisting Action
Obviously, this is not the only way to dance a Twisting action. Various themes exist based on timing, amounts of turn, movement of the free foot, and context. Here are the most common:

Twisting Action with Brush: Similar to the version described above, but with the free foot brushing to the standing foot. All technical points are the same, including the axis of rotation. This version is commonly used when the following step is taken in the opposite direction, as it is in the Alemana Turn.

Spiral Turn: Begins with a Twisting action, but continues up to 3/4 or 1 full turn. The free leg bends around the standing leg, but the toe remains on a fixed point on the floor. The standing leg remains straight. The axis remains constant throughout the turn.

Twist Turn (Heel-Toe): This turn usually begins with one foot crossing tightly over the track of the other, either in front or behind. The turn is still in the direction of the forward foot. What really makes it unique is the footwork: Ball of back foot, heel of front foot. Normally the weight is split between the feet during the turn, which gives the Twist Turn the unique distinction of being one of the very few turns which truly uses the center axis.

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