Salsa > Spins, turns and CBLs...

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by squirrel, Sep 28, 2004.

  1. MacMoto

    MacMoto Active Member

    I think I have this problem with my left foot. My left ankle doesn't seem to like the angle it has to maintain in order for me to stay on the ball of the foot, and it sort of buckles out when I'm turning/spinning to the left (CCW). I feel myself "fall" off the ball onto the outside of the foot and lose balance. I'm trying to work on this problem.
  2. azzey

    azzey Member

    I have just seen this thread and can explain the problems some of you are having. Theres some misinformation in this thread about spinning more than twice both on the spot and in a CBL which i'd like to correct so that my fellow dancers can have a more relaxed time dancing and not worrying about these things.

    The following information applies to cross body style of salsa (both NY and LA styles).

    General spinning technique:

    - Rule 1: spin like a top - put the point you're going to spin on right beneath your body before turning on it. If your foot is not exactly under your body when you try to spin or your body is still moving in a direction because you prepped by stepping forward THEN moving your body over your foot you are guaranteed to lose your balance during the spin or you will have to compensate for this in some way. Make it easy for yourself. This is why when doing the three steps for a hook turn guys usually do it on the heel because our momentum is travelling in that direction.

    - Rule 2: Prep for your turn.
    Your prep should involve building momentum in the opposite direction while NOT creating any activitely bad habits in Rule 3.

    Good example: a step on the spot (to make it easy to do the next step which should move you), a step in another direction (usually forward) then make a half turn in the direction you want to go (i.e. 6 o'clock if your first step was 1 o'clock) and put the foot you are going to spin on directly beneath you. Making your prep as a turn in the direction you want to go rather than the alternative which is a wind-up in the opposite direction builds momentum in the direction you want to go AND you're already half a turn towards your end goal. If you watch video clips of all the best performers of any style including the guys (like Francisco Vasquez) you will notice them doing this half turn but still facing with the head towards your partner (12 o'clock) to make it look right. Same for the girls. Look at the way Susanna Montero preps.

    There is nothing wrong with building momentum in the opposite direction by doing a wind-up (like Edie) on the spot and then turning, but it take more practice and you lose some energy doing this. Personally I use both techniques when free-spinning, however when I want to do more than 1 or 2 spins I use the turning-prep because it conserves more energy for the turn.

    - Rule 3: Don't push yourself off-balance once in a turn. Ways of doing this are:
    a) paddle turning - pushing with your foot has an equal and opposite force on your body making it harder for you to keep balance.
    b) Having your free foot away from your spinning foot. Always keep your free foot as close as possible next to your spinning foot, a centimetre or so above the ground.
    b) Tilting the head or looking down - around 15-20% of your body weight is in your head. Chin up! Spot on something high up will improve your balance.
    c) Bending your body in some way. d) Tilting your shoulders - this can be caused by pushing up too high with your hand/arm girls, your shoulder follows your arm.
    d) etc etc.

    - Rule 4: Don't reduce your turning speed by creating friction. Ways of doing this are: a) paddle turning - although you get some force when you push off NOT a lot of it is put into the turn, a lot of it is simply in the direction you push, making you wabble. b) bad shoes c) etc. Eventually when you get really good, you won't need to touch down at all until you stop spinning. This will reduce the friction to the minimum.

    - Rule 5: DO increase your momentum for multiple turns by using your shoulders (if available) AND/OR your free arm held at waist height to punch around. Keep your arms in balanced positions close to your body when spinning. It is ok to have them stretched out in balanced positions when you begin the spin however quickly bring them in to build momentum and improve balance and stop from hitting anything nearby. :lol:

    - Rule 6: Begin the spin early enough. On 1: Normal spins are prepped on 1,2,3 (if you're already have a turn you have an advantage here), lead on 4, your first whole turn is completed on 5 with you facing your partner again. Note: Teachers say out loud (in classes and videos) "1 2 3 turn 5 6 7, the lady turns on 5". Usually its not clear that the lead is on 4 and if *stepping her turn* she would already be stepping in the 12 o'clock position on the 5. This is what they mean when they say "the lady turns/spins on 5". If spinning she is already facing her partner again by 5, ready to receive the lead for the second spin. So you complete your second spin in 1 beat, you are facing your partner again on 6 and you have 7 and 8 to relax and slow down before stepping back on 1. So its easy to fit in a 3rd spin using the same prep, as long as you complete each spin in 1 beat.

    When followers do spot spins with more than 3 spins, it is necessary to prep earlier. This is done on 1,2, with the spin being lead on 3, the first spin completed on 4, additional spins lead on 5,6, which means you complete turning on 7 have a beat to relax (8) and get your balance before stepping back on 1.

    In short, if you find spinning difficult as a lead or follow its because you are not applying the correct technique well or often enough.
  3. michelledoreen

    michelledoreen New Member

    another tip for triple turns:
    when you prep for the turn, blow out air and you can spin faster. i picked up this technique as an ice skater and it works well off the ice as well.
  4. squirrel

    squirrel New Member

    michelledorreen... question: you can try and do that when spinning by yourself... but when the guy spins me, how on earth am I going to know if he wants a double or a triple???

    and another question: when I do spins, I use the prep you are talking about azzey (Edie's method is still difficult for me), so that when the spin actually starts, I am already turned... :)... but: I can't to triples!

    I have no problem doing doubles... but triples... no way!

    Let me tell you what I do, so that you may identify the mistake (if any) - I dance on1:
    - prep on 3, lead on 4, on five I start and stop spinning on 7 - the only time I "push" in my left leg is when I start the first spin... and put the leg down to stop spinning...
    - I tried triples (alone - I understood one should be able to do almost anything on one's own...) and it's not working... it's coming out as 2 and a half at most... or I lose balance from pushing my shoulders too much... and I know I am not lifting the left leg while spinning :) - tried hard to stop doing it!

    So, what do you people do to spin 3 times on 567??? Without the guy pulling you... alone!

    And another question: I cannot do doubles if I spin to the leader's right (on 123) ... help... :)
  5. azzey

    azzey Member

    Sorry I was in a hurry last time and didn't have time to finish. Also there's a few typos, I hope it made sense. Here's one I could be bothered to correct. :)

    That should read:

    Your prep should involve building momentum while NOT creating any activitely bad habits (see Rule 3).
  6. azzey

    azzey Member

    OK, here's the rest on spinning:

    - Rule 7: Practice spins with perfect technique and balance. Practice 1 perfect spin. Practice again and again, correcting any balancing issues first BEFORE attempting to do multiple spins. This is particularly important if you are breaking any of the above rules. Fix them first! Don't expect to be able to do multiple spins with balance if you can't do 1 perfectly. By perfect I mean that you finish feet together and don't wabble or have to use your landing foot to balance yourself significantly. The way to do this is to practice starting with your feet together, weight on your spinning foot (heel up) with the other toe touching the ground for balance then use your shoulders to turn yourself.
    If this is too difficult for you use the turning prep described in rule 2, as you spin bring your feet together and allow yourself to STOP with your feet together. Notice which direction you wobble in. Left/right/forward/back. You can usually feel what you did wrong to put yourself off balance if you make a mental check of the bad habits. Correct and try again. ALL the best spinners learned from their mistakes and practiced day after week after month after year until they got it right.
    You should see significant improvement in a week or two of daily practice, if not your technique is flawed. Go back to basics.

    - Rule 8: Place your landing foot in a balanced position that is close to your spinning foot. Once you have single spins nailed perfectly without assistance from a lead, touch down briefly with the toe of the foot you are not spinning on (making sure NOT to push with the foot). To balance well your foot that touches down should be as close to your spinning foot as possible, usually less than a few inches in front of where your feet would be together. This makes it easier for you to bring your feet together again when you start spinning again. Then use your free arm to give yourself the momentum for the second spin by punching in the direction you are spinning and pick up the toe of the foot you used to balance with (bringing it back next to your spinning foot) as you spin.

    - Rule 9: Practice spins in both directions. It's a funny thing about the body that it balances good and bad learning behaviour. If you're good at spinning in one direction then start practicing in the other direction and are crap (because you haven't practiced) you will find that the good side starts getting worse. The body is balancing the good and bad sides. So practice 1 spin to the right then 1 to the left. 2 to the right and 2 to the left. Keep your learning balanced.

    - Rule 10: Practice a little every day. Regular practice over a 2-3 week period will improve your spins phenomenally! Practice in the toilet at work, at the club, at a class, at home on your carpet with just your socks on. Get used to correcting and improving your technique and eventually it will happen. Professionals got to spinning 8 times or more by practicing every day for years.

    - Rule 11: Don't over practice! As soon as you feel your spins getting worse, stop and try again later or another day. This is normal even for good spinners. See rule 10.

    - Rule 12: Use the momentum the leader gives you. When following spins lead by a leader, he will give you some momentum through your arm when he leads you, then its up to you to conserve and add to it using your shoulders and arm. If he's a good leader he will give you just enough momentum to keep you spinning (and nudge you for each additional spin IF you need it) but not so much as to knock you off-balance. After the initial nudge to get you going his hand should be a guide making a halo around your head. Use this to keep you focused and balanced on where you are, but do not pull on his hand/arm. When its time to stop you will feel your hand/arm coming down before the beginning of the next turn, so you know to slow and stop. Also he may squeeze your hand slightly as an additional indication. If you lose balance stop the turn early, in my opinion 1 good turn is better than 2 done badly.
  7. azzey

    azzey Member

    OK, now a bit about Cross Body Lead turning/spinning.

    CBL outside turns (clockwise for the follower) are often (but not always) lead on 4, her first step to her right is with the left foot on 5 and each rotation of 180 degrees is done on a consecutive beat (i.e 6 and 7), finishing before on or before 8. So a 1 and a half outside turn would be lead on 4, step on 5, 6, 7, back on 1.

    CBL inside turns (anti-clockwise for the follower) are often (but not always) lead on 5, her first step to the left with the right foot is on 6 and each rotation of 180 degrees is done on a consecutive beat (i.e. 7 and 8), stepping back on 1. So a 1 and a half inside turn would be lead on 5, step on 6, 7 and back on 1.

    In order to add additional turns it is necessary either to start the turn several beats earlier OR to SYNCOPATE the turn. i.e. use the half beats for each step of 180 degrees (or 1 beat for each 360 degrees). When syncopating the technique for the girl is sometimes to change her foot work from stepping the turn (which will not always be fast enough on fast music) to spinning the turn with her feet close together.

    So a 2 and a half outside turn is lead on 4, half turn on 5 (facing towards leader now), additional whole turn complete by 6, second additional turn complete by 7, stepping back on 1.

    I'm sure you can work out the inside turn for yourself.

    Starting the turn earlier can be used to add an additional turn but is more commonly used to complete the followers turn(s) in time for the leader to turn himself on 5,6,7.

    As always the follower should try to follow what the leader leads, so its his responsibility to lead a normal 1 and a half on the correct timing or a 2 and a half syncopated turn. If the leader gets the initial lead timing wrong then it will be harder for the follower to respond as she will be on the wrong foot to turn in that direction. Saying that, there are some advanced turn patterns that use this feature, but special footwork is usually learnt by the follower to cope in this case.

    Hope this helps.
  8. azzey

    azzey Member

    Same way you know if he wants a single or a double. See rule 12.

    You should be starting the spin on 4 (if thats when the leader leads), otherwise you'll not use the momentum the leader just gave you. It will look choppy instead of smooth.

    I should extend rule 3 "Don't push yourself off-balance once in a turn." to include STARTING the turn. Don't push! Or you're guaranteed to be off balance from the start. At least not until you get your spins working well. Then you will have the control so that it won't knock you off balance.

    The only time you should push a little with the foot is when both your arms are held by the leader and you don't get enough momentum from him. You can't use your free arm to punch round because its being held and using your shoulders would be difficult. This is usually when doing a double hammerlock on the spot.

    Sounds to me like rule 3. Try using your arm(s) more to push you round both when starting the first spin and for additional spins. If you are balanced the only limitation should be dizziness. So I suggest checking your technique against the rules. Of course, spinning more than twice does take a lot of good practice (see rules 7-11), so don't give up! One day it will just happen..

    Once you can do 3 or more spins without assistance when being lead he may need to give you some momentum by pushing you with his arm at the beginning of each additional turn to compensate for your lack of free arms/shoulders. See rule 12.

    Don't understand what you mean here. A spot spin or CBL turn? Which direction are you turning clockwise or anti-clockwise?
  9. squirrel

    squirrel New Member

    I turn anti-clock wise.... :)
  10. azzey

    azzey Member

    One more thing Squirrel, if you can't afford specialist spinning videos why not model your technique on professionals. Look at all the free video clips out there (see, freeze frame the video and practice what they do. I'm experimenting with many different types of spin courtesy of Francisco Vasquez. His best is 5 spins in 8 beats. I've learnt a lot from watching him.

    Now you are telling me you can't find any video clips of women spinning where you can see their feet?
  11. squirrel

    squirrel New Member

    :) Sure I do... I just have this problem that I've heard so many theories as to "proper spinning techniques"... :)
  12. azzey

    azzey Member

    If you're talking about a spin on the spot anti-clockwise, then you have to change your prep. It will be slightly different than your right prep. Apply the rules just the same. It's probably due to lack of practice? By that I mean that we leads don't spin you in that direction as often as we do the other. See rule 9.
  13. azzey

    azzey Member

    At the end of the day its what works for you. These are just guidelines. Once you know the techniques you can work on more interesting spins. Like I'm practicing this one where I spin to the left once, then change foot and spin twice or more in the same direction. Feels and hopefully looks cool, but its hard to keep balance and get the feet in the correct positions every time. Sometimes it works sometimes I goof up. Practice practice. I'll get there.
  14. squirrel

    squirrel New Member

    Leads here never spin follows anti clock wise... I was just asking... :)

    And thanks for the answers
  15. azzey

    azzey Member

    Hang in there. My last female teacher who could spin more than 8 times (Edie style) told me it took her 6 years of practice every day to get to how good she was. She had some privates with Edie as well.
  16. azzey

    azzey Member

    As the good side gets worse the bad side will get better. Until both are equal then you can improve both.
  17. azzey

    azzey Member

    Theories are just that. However if you try them it will become immediately obvious which are true and help you and which don't.
  18. tj

    tj New Member

    Hey, a lot to digest here! Thanks for sharing!
  19. azzey

    azzey Member

    Squirrel - How's the daily spinning practice going? :wink:
  20. squirrel

    squirrel New Member

    Ok... still have to practice Edie's prep... it doesn't come out too well... :(

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