Two Types of Direction Changes: Swivel and Forward Walk Turn
There are really just 2 types of direction changes (though the amount of turn could vary). Tap in the power of standing leg - standing side. Tighten the core. Body weight/spine lined up.
Swivel to outside: Rotate to outside of your standing leg. e.g. turn to Right when RF in front. It could also be called "Hip Twist Turns".
Whole spine over whole foot.
Key: as part of previous forward walk, make sure spine keeps moving forward till it's completely over the foot, finish the hip pendulum action to swing diagonally up (without disturbing the body shape). (With hip up, the twisting has larger circumference.)
Leg and upper body is on straight line, no bending line at hip joint. (Think about level fruit basket.)
Test - completely over the foot. Lift the other foot (do ballet passe) to test that weight is over the foot. Should be able to stand on the foot without adjustment.
Hips are locked down, rib cage sits right on top - whole solid axis
Order of turns: shoulder/upper body first, then hip rotate, then knees are touching and then feet arrives.
After rotating shoulder, start rotating the R hip, LF track, brushing calve, knee (creating a small triangle) and then continue to pull right side back (twisting R hip), swivel on axis, brushing foot. Pull the right side back (twisting R hip), swivel on axis.
Twist the core, not using shoulder force to whip the body. (Can apply Flexible Turn technique - rotating body first.)
To stop the turn and not throw off balance, use opposition - after twisting to R, keep R side of body/shoulder (while R hip continuing turning to R)
Finishing with LF on high toe position, R hip stretch back, R side compressed, grounded, L knee stretch fwd.
After the swivel, body should be balanced and not falling off the foot. e.g balance on RF, then twist R hip even more when stepping LF out.
Forward Walk Turn: turn to the inside of the standing leg. e.g. turn left, starting from RF in front, split weight position.
Axis to rotate around is not completely over the foot. It is in the middle/center of the two feet.
There is pressure on the back toe.
From split weight position, feet flat. When rotating, energy comes from the back foot and leg. apply pressure on ball of the back foot, rotate around the center axis. The pressing causes the turning.
Turn is made on ball of foot while keeping foot flat. (not heel turn)
The other foot (e.g. RF, the one originally in front) stays flat while turning on ball.
Keep pressure on ball of LF foot.
Do not rise and turn on ball of both feet which will make body "pop up". Body height stays flat.
Ending with LF on demi-pointe, proping cane, straight legs. Body is still forward.
Make sure spine does not keep on moving back during the turn. This allows either forward, backward, side movement. Compress on right side to continue.
To continue moving backward, point the foot, release knee and move back.
To continue moving forward, continue to twist hip, lower left heel and press to flat and continue.
In some figures, "Forward Walk Turn Action" is used, it is referring to the use of pressure in the back toe to rotate and turn. The back toe will keep pressure. In some dances (Rumba, slower), sometimes, you'd want to emphasize the full transfer of the weight to standing leg (for brush action in Alemana). For Switch Turn, do the normal Forward Walk turn because it's much quicker.
When practicing these specific points, eliminate all other extra little things that the body (arms, hands) tends to want to do.
Turns can be either sharp, quick, sudden OR steady, slow sustained - two contrasting energies.
A turn made on supporting foot before next step is placed starts at the end of preceding step (previous '&' or 'a' beat).
For sharper turns (spirals, fwd walk turns, swivels): delay head turn, suck tummy, use center, turn shoulder/body first, then head. Don't overturn shoulder, keep opposition.
The amount of turn in Latin dances is not so exact. Express yourself.
Direct turns (as discussed in Common Movements): this is basic technique, everything move in one piece. Switching actions is direct turns.
Flexible turns are more advanced: upper half is going to go first, then the lower half. This helps to create the sharp look.
Swivel: twist upper body as much as you can, creates torque, delay foot, and then at the very end (before the beat), very quickly unwind and places the foot.
Forward Walk Turn: similarly, turn upper body first, then whip the hips sharp.
Turns can be sharp even when music is slow.
Spins and Turns
Elements for good turns:
Good posture and stand correctly first:
tummy pulled in, tummy muscle high.
sternum picked up, but chest muscle pulling toward floor, exhale to have chest down to floor, no blown up chest which pulls body out of floor
head up, look straight ahead, in straight line with spine.
shoulders down, no slouching
keep thighs tight, butt muscle and center strong, especially when there are fast turns.
Understand which part of the foot to turn on: turn on ball of the foot or flat foot, turn with feet together or apart.
Wind up arm to L when preparing to turn R. But do not use force to throw arm to help with turn.
Close arms to body during the turn to speed up the turn.
Head spotting, while keeping body posture. Critical for fast and sharp turns.
Pick a spot for eyes to focus on. When practicing, pick a small point, not a general big area to spot on. Small point help to keep focus.
Keep head in place for as long as possible, keep spine very vertical (no bending to side, or shaping head), and starting turning shoulder/body to L (or R), still keeping same focus spot. When head can no longer keep its position, whip head around to the other side to try to find and focus on the same spot again and let body catch up with head.
When whipping head around, it is fast, but it does not need too much force, if it's too aggressive, it will throw body off balance.
Nose is the last to leave and first to arrive.
Do not bend upper body in any way. Tighten core, suck tummy, use center. Keep posture and balance.
3 parts of body during a turn: head, torso and hips. 3 parts don't turn at the same time.
Option 1 (quick turn): start with rotating torso first (think about closing the opposite shoulder), then head and hips finish by closing the opposite hip.
hips - if turning to R, don't think about whipping R hip to R, instead, think about "closing" the L hip. Similar for shoulder/torso.
Option 2 (slower, swivels): move hip more fwd onto the foot (flatten hip crease), turn hip and head first, then turn torso.
Stopping a turn: a stop is never an all body full stop. Feet stopped, but body continues to stretch out hips settles. During the turn, arms are close to body. When stopping turn, arms can stretch out.
Turns and spins:
RF step to side (with full weight on straight leg, flat foot) - LF closes to RF, turn - RF step to side
Do not make step too big. Commit weight fully on standing foot, otherwise, you'll fall during turn.
Head spotting either forward or along down the line.
Full spin on one foot to left or right. Start with shoulder parallel to the line you are turning on.
Start with good posture (center collected, spine alighted), weight is on one foot, stand completely over a straight leg, point the other foot to the side, tummy muscle up, arms winds to right when turning left.
Head spot forward (direction you are turning on). Turning shoulder first. Turn on ball of the the foot (not on edge), heel slightly off floor, both legs straight (but knees are not locked).
During the turn, the other foot closes to turning foot, arms close to body.
Stopping the turn: shoulder opposition (shoulder stopped turning before hip, so it creates opposition)
Do not over swing the upper body in order to gain speed, that will throw body off balance. One full turn really doesn't require too much force.
Check posture, tighten tummy, very strong center.
Rumba Timing: start with RF back break, LF replace, RF small step forward track underneath the body, slightly across LF. There is a bit of wind up.
Use head spotting - it will make turn look a lot sharper. Keep head looking forward, turning body and hips left to unwind, turn head sharply and continue to turn body and wrap the free foot in figure 4 position.
Turning after weight has been transferred. Turn upper body first, leave head behind. Then, head arrives first. Turn on ball of foot.
There are a few different styles of Spiral Turns:
High Spiral: Forward Walk turn and continue to turn while keeping the other non-weight bearing leg straight.
Example: for Left Spiral - step RF forward, forward walk turn 1/2 turn, continue to turn left with L leg straight (with toe almost on floor); then twist R hip back more to put LF down.
Locking on ankles.
For Left Spiral: after forward walk turn, ballet Sous-us, lift leg and body upward, having two straight legs, LF cross in front RF, locking ankles. Step twist R hip back to step LF forward.
Figure 4 wrapping turning leg:
For Left Spiral: after forward walk turn, continue to turn, L knee bent, L leg wraps around R leg.
For Spiral Turns, turn 1/8 less than the direction one will be traveling, then allowing hip to settle (and turn more). Use torque (the opposite direction) to stop the turn.
Practice continuous spinning forward:
Head turn to right, head spotting forward (down line of dance), step RF forward, weight on RF, turn right with LF closes to RF
After a full turn, RF step forward and turn again.
Arms: wind to left when turning right, while turning, arms close to body.
Apply head spotting.
Turns with different timing:
Divide beat in multiples: se-ven-&-8, se-ven-&-a-8.
Backward Hip Twist Turn (Overturns). Example: standing on LF, RF fwd pointed.
Start with good posture, backward walk technique, tummy in, stretch standing leg L leg back, pull in free leg thigh, as you collect RF to high toe position start pivoting on LF to right, turn 180 degrees, then, just like back walk, R leg brush calf, knee, straighten leg, gradually absorb and soft land onto RF, tummy in.
Continue the same on the WF, turning to L.