[ Home | ]
DANCE LESSON OF THE MONTH - TURNING ACTIONS
The Pivoting Action
A Pivoting Action is a turn taken in the same direction as the forward
The Pivoting action is another very simple yet important component in the spectrum of
turning actions. It too is the foundation of many other turns, including Alemanas, Open
and Closed Hip Twists, Pivots, Pencil Turns, Ronde Turns, Ochos, and basic Cha Cha
Crossovers. Even the Chanie turn, to be examined in a later lesson, is really just a type
of pivoting action.
To familiarize yourself with the Pivoting action, step forward with your
right foot making sure that the weight is fully committed to the foot. Then turn 1/4 to
the right with the weight remaining on the right foot, allowing the left foot to brush
together in third position, slightly behind. Repeat this action, each time turning another
1/4 turn, and paying attention to balancing the weight over the right foot.
The same turn should be practiced on the left foot, turning to the left.
VIDEO CLIP COMING SOON...
Where's the Axis?
As in the Twisting action, the axis of rotation is based on the vertical alignment of the
shoulder over the hip over the ball of the standing foot. Balance is lost when one or more
of these three points falls out of alignment. If you recall from the previous lesson,
Spins & Turns, the use of this "Side Axis" causes one side of the body to
remain in place, while the other side rotates around it. In this case, the side of the
body corresponding to the standing foot is the stationary side, while the side
corresponding to the free foot is the actively rotating side.
When taking the step in preparation for the turn, lead with your right or left side as
suggested in the chapter 4 of the previous lesson, Spins & Turns. You have many
choices with respect to the footwork and leg action, depending on the context of the turn.
For our purposes, let's stick with a simple one: Step ball-flat and keep both legs
Stepping onto the foot, make sure that your weight arrives completely over
it. Establish a strong vertical axis from shoulder through hip to foot. Keep your center
picked up under the ribs, with tone in the leg muscles created by the turnout of the legs
from the hips.
Using the muscles in the legs and feet, turn the lower body into the
direction of the forward foot. If the right foot is forward, turn to the right. If the
left foot is forward, turn to the left. The free foot should brush into 3rd position
behind the weighted foot.
Special care should be taken to maintain the alignment of the shoulder,
hip and foot through the axis of rotation. It is a very common mistake to rotate the
shoulder backwards in attempt to create additional rotation. It is far more important when
learning the pivoting action to focus on maintaining the axis than to attempt as many
turns at once as possible.
Degrees of Rotation
Turns should be practiced both to the left on the left foot, and to the right on the right
foot. Varying degrees of rotation can be practiced, starting with quarter turns, then half
turns, and then ultimately full turns. It is pointless to continue attempting a specific
amount of turn that's out of your league. Stick with simple movements that enable you to
focus on maintaining axis and balance, and graduate yourself slowly over time.
Variations of the Pivoting Action
There are even more variations on the Pivoting action than there are on
the Twisting action. Here are just a few:
Open and Closed Hip Twists: Don't let the name fool
you... a "Hip Twist" is not a twisting action, it's a pivoting action (a turn in
the direction of the forward foot). The hip twist is usually a Latin element, generated by
the settling of the hip action. The standing leg remains straight, and the free leg bends
as the foot brushes in, allowing the hip to settle. The settling or "twisting"
of the hip initiates the turning action.
Pencil Turns: Pivoting actions of a full turn or more,
where the feet remain in first or third position, are sometimes known as pencil turns.
These are some of the most difficult turns to master, because they require a strong sense
of axis and opposition of muscles necessary to generate the rotation.
Pivots and Chaine Turns: Not all pivoting actions are
spot rotations. Some actually involve progressive rotation. Case in point: Pivots and
Chaines. The issue of axis becomes quite complex during these types of turns, because the
body weight (and the axis as well) continues to travel between steps rather than balancing
over one foot. The complexity of this topic is such that it requires a dance lesson
devoted entirely to it.
NEXT SECTION >>