As do all good dance instructors, I tell my students to press up into their turns, stand erect, keep their eyes level, and pick some point to spot. But there is one element that seems to be a consistent problem with many new students. Even when they press up, they keep their weighted foot glued to the floor and don't allow it to turn in the direction of the turn. A good example is in two-step where the lady is standing on her left foot ready to execute 1 full turn clockwise (rt turn) on a quick quick. She will start turning to her right, keeping her left foot glued to the floor until her left knee hurts, and only then will she unglue her left foot from the floor as she does a weight change to her right foot. The result being that she did not complete a full half turn. She will continue turning right, keeping her right foot glued to the floor until her right knee hurts, and only then will she unglue her right foot from the floor as she does a weight change to her left foot. Then, she wonders why she wasn't able to complete a full turn. The common comment is: "well I guess I just didn't turn fast enough." That is not the problem at all! The problem is that she did not allow her weighted foot to turn in the direction of the turn. She kept it glued to the floor. A two-step example was given because it is easier to visualize. The problem really gets critical in West Coast Swing where turns are executed in triple rhythm (3 steps to 2 beats of music). To correct the problem, the student must be taught to press up on the weighted foot and allow the weighted foot to turn in the direction of the turn. The problem is not as simple to solve as it sounds because most students think that is what they are doing, but they are not. A teacher may get the problem student to do the turn properly only to find out a little later that the student has reverted to gluing their weighted foot to the floor. Correcting this problem may take a lot of patience on the part of the instructor and may require quite a bit of practice by the student until the process becomes automatic. The problem as defined here applies equally to men as well.
Published in Flagstaff Swing Dance Club, Inc. Newsletter, March 1994
Published in NTA (National Teachers Association) Newsletter, June 1994