Single axis turns: the basics and some combos

I've been so busy studying anatomy that I've had little time to blog, BUT I realized that I haven't put any notes down for single axis turns for a LONG time. Here's the short version of what we did tonight in class.

The basics

Single axis turns are turns in which the leader and the follower are (as much as is possible) sharing an axis while spinning on one foot in place, and then exiting.

A single axis turn can be done:

  • in a right or left turn;
  • with either the leader's right or left foot;
  • and through any step of the follower's turn.

Of course, not all single axis turns are created equal, and some are harder to do than others. However, I've found that each leader finds different single axis turns to be easier. I myself mastered the one my teacher thought would be hardest for me before the "easy" one! I should say that my main teacher for these has been Luciana Valle (thanks, Luciana!), but that I also studied them with Chicho and with Gustavo. I was taught them in open embrace, but I do them and teach them in the V-shaped, close embrace that I usually use to dance.

The order we did so far:

  • left turn, step through follower's open step with left foot (or right).
  • left turn, step through follower's front cross step  with left foot (or right).
  • left turn, step through follower's back cross step with left foot (right is dangerous here).


Secrets to make single axis turns easy

The list I wrote on the board for leaders:

  • Step AROUND/BEHIND the follower's front foot (whichever concept puts you in the right place).
  • Step forward HEEL-TOE, allowing both people's feet to continuing rotating, in order to land better on balance and not catch feet.
  • "Pink Panther" timing: da-DUMP! The follower's foot hits the ground, and then you step around/behind a split second after they start the weight transfer. This allows you an escape hatch if the partner lands off balance, so that you can bail on the turn, OR help them regain balance. It also allows you to "ride" the momentum of the follower, instead of working harder ;-)
  • Don't go for 360o instead of technique: a 180o is fine (heck, a quarter turn is fine). When you and your partner are aligned correctly, you will find that you turn a lot more, even without much effort.
  • There should be a moment at the end of the turn where there is a feeling of suspension before the exit: don't fall into an exit, use that suspension and enjoy it! It's like a wave gathering and then breaking.
  • Exit with the follower's easiest exit (usually back or forward) and arrange yourself as needed. If you need to change feet for stability, then do it, but ONLY to exit. For example, on the follower's back cross step version of this turn, I sometimes lead this in parallel, then transfer weight to exit in crossed system.

The list is shorter for followers:

  • Don't panic.
  • Stay aligned (you were joking about "butt out" and all of you did better after that).
  • Did I mention don't panic?
  • Do the best turn you can do, with excellent technique on each step, and you will be on balance, ready for anything.

Combinations from single axis turns plus the boleos we've been doing

1. Left turn, back boleo in the turn, rebound to front cross step, and do the single axis turn in that step, to the left, with either foot stepping around/behind follower. Exit follower stepping back for easiest exit.

2. Right turn, pivot follower as if to ocho, and lead front boleo, unwind into left turn, and do the single axis turn in that back cross step with the left foot. Exit follower stepping forward for safest results.