7.12 On Turning Speed And Timing
“*During a slow song, turn slowly. It is not necessary to whip around a turn during a slow song unless you’re doing a multiple turn. Instead, let yourself flow through the turn. Don’t force it.” Followers, when you are hurrying you tend to disconnect from your partner because you start worrying about where you have to be two seconds in the future.
Mario Robau gave some pointers on turns from a recent workshop in New York. He points out that in doing a double turn coming out of a whip, one often begins the turn too early, on, say, the 5-count instead of waiting to anchor the right foot in place on the 6-count, then beginning the turn with feet very close together. A common mistake, he says, is to swing that right foot out and back, hoping to help with the turn, but actually throwing oneself out of balance. And DON’T PANIC! It should be so easy!
A very common mistake is to rush the beginning of a spin or turn, thinking “this is gonna be fast and difficult, I’d better start it early so I’ll have enough time!” Trouble is that we and our partner may not be in the right places quite yet; if we were, the difficult move might be easier. It’s far better to get where you’re going, take the time to get “grounded” with your body weight properly over what will be the pivoting foot, and *then* start your turn. If you don’t get all this right it’ll be next to impossible to correct it *during* the turn; this is what leads to “falling out of a spin”. A surprising hint is to think in terms of starting the turn *later*. e.g. if you’re going to spin on 5&6, don’t start it just after 4! Finish whatever you were doing on 4, just as if you *weren’t* going to spin, first. (syncopating as &3 4 rather than 3&4 gives you even more time to get there.)
Finish your spin before moving a foot away from this “spin position”. If you anticipate the next “walk step”, moving one foot away from the axis before your spin is done, your spin will be done right there, as you fall off the axis! And when you do step away from the “spin position”, try to make it a small step, so that you won’t *look* as if you’re falling out of the spin. Regardless of how many spins the dancer does, he/she must be able to come out of it BALANCED, otherwise he/she won’t be able to follow or lead properly; they’ll just fall all over the place. Not only can you tell the difference when you’re not balanced, your partner can too.
In most dances, including WCS, you want to finish your spin in time to have at least a very brief pause (1/8? 1/4 beat maybe?) before you have to step away from the “spin foot position”. If you don’t have this brief moment I call this “settling time”, it will look rushed. (this also is a distinction from Hustle styling — Hustle looks better as the “settling time” gets shorter.) e.g. if you’re spinning on 5&6, don’t crowd the 1 too much. You almost want to give the impression that you had time to go around once more — certainly that’s better than giving the impression that you just barely had time, or even worse, didn’t quite have time, to do what you did. (There are of course exceptions where a spin naturally flows into the next step, and in those cases you want it to look continuous, but these are obvious in context — the above is a general rule, not an axiom.) A single spin done well, where you obviously are in control and had plenty of time before and after, ALWAYS looks better than a double spin that’s obviously rushed (THAT’S an axiom!). To help stop yourself from turning, think of spreading your toes out, not curling them in. Also “Tweeze” – Twist & Squeeze your thighs and feet together which gives you good leg tone and can help you stop cleanly.
Sonny & Kris from LA strongly advocate syncopating turns and such as 1 2&3 4 5&6. They reason that the most important part of any spin is the stop. So the &3 gets you into whatever pivot or turn sooner, thus making the turn (and the lady doing the turn) look snappier. Then, the lady has a full beat to slow down, settle, and prepare for the next two beats (which she will subsequently snap out, then slow down and settle).
Really good styling in WCS calls for doing spins with “soft stops”. i.e. you should think in terms of slowing to a stop, not stopping suddenly. In fact this is true of almost everything in WCS, especially in those places where you reverse direction. You should slow to a stop, have a brief pause, and then go on with the next thing; these reversals should usually not look sharp and abrupt. (This is one of the major errors made by WCS dancers who spent a lot of time doing Hustle before they learned WCS…) A perfect example is the “shuttle”, aka “continuous whip”. Many people think it looks better with sharp, abrupt stops, until they see a couple that does soft stops really well.
Corollary for guys leading the ladies in non-free spins: If she isn’t comfortable going twice around in two counts, if she isn’t COMPLETELY done with the second turn in time to have some “settling time”, she’ll feel rushed — so don’t keep pushing it. Most ladies like to be challenged a little bit during any given song, but hardly anyone likes to feel that they’re constantly “not quite there”. Be a sensitive leader. Adjust to the ability of your partner.