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Re: Alemana
Posted by Waltz123
7/24/2013  12:29:00 AM
On an Underarm Turn in the Rumba. Doesn`t the right foot stay as if it is nailed to the floor. And in the Alemana Turn doesn`t the right foot move as in a Rumba Walk.

Yes and no.

Yes, the free foot can stay in place -- usually labeled "switch turn".
Yes, the free foot can brush toward the supporting foot -- usually labeled "spot turn".
No, there is no requirement that the underarm turn be one or the other.

The ISTD technique book outlines the technique for both the switch turn and the spot turn in full detail. However, the Underarm Turn is simply described as being an alternative basic movement for the man, while the lady dances either a spot *or* a switch turn. In other words, she is given the choice.

Interestingly, while the switch turn is presented in classic chart form like most other figures, the spot turn gets more of a short "essay". To paraphrase the ISTD, it is three forward steps, circling to left or right. Now this doesn't tell us much about the free foot, but there is quite a bit that we can nonetheless conclude from the description:

1. The direction of the 3 steps is not explicitly defined, leaving room open for personal interpretation. Some choose to dance on one single track, while others take it in more of a circular or triangular fashion. Our website takes the terminology one step further, labeling the former "spot turn" and the latter "walkaround turn".

2. When you take consecutive forward walks, it is generally understood that the free foot will pass the supporting foot as it moves from one step to the next. As you add rotation, you add directional change to each step, and the path of the free foot will need to deviate in order to pass by the supporting foot. By the time you increase the turn to 1/2, the free foot is literally reversing its direction and returning to its original position. Still, for a set of steps described as "forward walks", one expects to see that brush even on a 1/2 turn. In other words, leaving the foot in place rather than brushing it together is exactly what distinguishes a spot from a switch turn, when you turn 1/2 between steps 1 and 2. Well -- that, and the 3rd step, which on a spot turn is forward, while taken side on a switch turn.

Note that if you do choose to dance a spot turn on a single track with 1/2 turn between 1 and 2, the third forward walk would need to be danced forward, turning 1/4 to end as a side step. The ISTD does make mention of this in the technique book.

As for the Alemana, it's more rigidly defined in the chart: It begins in fan position, and the lady takes 3 circling forward walks to end on the man's right side. This suggests that she would, in our terms, be using the "walkaround turn" version of the spot turn, i.e. circular/triangular path. One might expect, then, that it is the fan position start and the right side position ending that separates the Alemana from your garden variety underarm turn. But apparently not... Further reading of the Alemana notes in the technique book reveals that the Alemana can begin in open facing position and end in any number of positions, including open facing when ended with a side step.

In other words, when it comes to an all-encompassing definition, there really is nothing that sets the Alemana apart. There are only tendencies: We tend to think of an Alemana as being a more exotic version of the underarm turn, starting in Fan, ending in R side position, lady dancing on a circle or triangle. We tend to see people dancing the more basic underarm turn as a switch, beginning and ending in open. But as it turns out, those are not actually defining qualities.

Jonathan Atkinson
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