Ladies - Developing Your Double Turn Technique

By H. Leon Raper

All good dance instructors teach their students the important points relative to developing good turn technique. Some students are able to adapt quickly to these techniques, but most will not be able to adapt without quite a struggle and a lot of hard work. The technique I describe here will allow ladies to quickly improve their double turn technique. First, I will review the basics of good turn technique such as: stand erect, keep eyes level, pick some point to spot, keep your feet close together, and press up into the turn allowing the weighted foot to pivot in the direction of the turn - do not do a walking turn. Students will say "I can't remember all that stuff at the same time." OK, lets get into the technique that will work for most people. Of all elements of turn technique I just mentioned, concentrate on one thing only. That is, "keep your feet close together (almost touching)" as you execute the turns. Before going further lets talk about some natural human reactions. When you turn quickly your mind tells you to stick your foot out to the side to keep you your body in balance, but when you do so, you find yourself off balance. You would think your mind would know better, but for some unknown reason it doesn't. To solve the problem we must do some exercises to convince the mind that you have a much better chance of staying balanced with your feet close together. So, we will explore one technique to accomplish that task. The technique is as follows: First, the woman must concentrate on one thing only and that is keeping her feet close together. Second, the man must make her feel completely secure by keeping his left hand in one spot, directly over her head while she is turning. Thirdly, comes the practice technique to develop a good double turn. I have found that using a modified tuck double turn throwout from closed position feels the most comfortable for the lady and yields the quickest results. When I say a modified tuck double turn throwout, what I mean is a tuck double turn which leaves the lady right in front of the man - not having her travel down the slot as would a normal tuck double turn throw out. This allows her to execute a double turn without any travel whatsoever. During the execution of this turn the man is to keep his hand very solid directly over the ladies head - not moving his hand at all until she has completed her turns. This will make the lady feel very secure. You can try any of the other tuck turns, but I have found the lady feels the most secure with the one from closed position - as I described. The lady will probably be quite surprised the first time she tries this technique how well she keeps her balance. By just concentrating on keeping the feet close together we automatically accomplish all the other things we talked about in the beginning. For instance, you will automatically stand erect, keep your eyes level, and press up into the turn. If you don't, you won't be able to stay balanced and keep your feet close together. With the new found success most ladies will say, "I keep reverting back to my old ways." They probably will revert to their old ways. So, we have to develop a learning technique, through which repetition will finally solve the problem. Now that the ladies know what to do, they can not expect to execute the turn correctly every time the man leads her into a double turn. The lady still needs more help. Ladies, when you find yourself reverting to the your old unsuccessful turn technique, stop right now. Tell whoever you are dancing with that you want to work on improving your double turn technique. Tell him how to lead you, and tell him when you want him to repeat the lead. He won't mind at all. In fact, he will be flattered and feel good knowing the was able to help someone improve their swing dance technique. Experienced swing dancers take their dancing very seriously. They know swing is a very difficult dance to learn. They are very proud of their accomplishments and most are very happy to help other less experienced dancers improve their dance technique. They know someone helped them to learn and are quite willing to help others in return. Please note, this double turn technique applies to men as well as women. However, the practice methods will differ.

Published in Flagstaff Swing Dance Club, Inc. Newsletter, August 1994

Published in NTA (National Teachers Assn.) Newsletter, November 1994