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Alemana
Posted by iluv2dance
7/21/2013  11:09:00 PM
Hi to All,
I've noticed in the Rumba, that a lot of the ladies are dancing an Underarm Turn to the Right, replacing steps 4-6 the 3 forward walks of the Alemana.
Re: Alemana
Posted by Waltz123
7/22/2013  11:59:00 AM
Sorry, I'm not sure I understand the nature of your observation. First, are you making an observation specifically about the dance videos on this website, or about dancers you see in general, say at dance studios or competitions? Second, is the Alemana being danced where they should be dancing an Underarm / Switch Turn, or vice-versa? And finally, are you offering a critique (i.e. saying it's wrong and should be corrected), a curious observation (i.e. saying "This is what I see; Am I right and is it a good or a bad thing?"), or a supportive observation (i.e. stating your support for the practice)?

I can see that you have something to say about it and I'd like to answer, but the particulars of the statement were somewhat ambiguous.

Regards,
Jonathan
Re: Alemana
Posted by O.K.
7/22/2013  10:33:00 PM
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. Can all the figures that may follow, be done from both the Underarm Turn, and the Alemana. I don't think so. Also with Social Dancers do you see as I do how many on a Spot Turn, turn over the wrong foot having not completed a Forward Walk and then Turning. This is of course the International Style. Other codes I wouldn`t have a clue.
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.

Regards,
Jonathan Atkinson
www.ballroomdancers.com
Re: Alemana
Posted by iluv2dance
7/25/2013  7:09:00 AM
Thanks for your reply.
Re: Alemana
Posted by O.K.
7/26/2013  7:19:00 PM
I have always done a Spot Turn the way Walter Laird wrote it in 1961.On a Spot Turn to the mans left, the left foot stays in place. Anything else is an adaptation of the original. As for changing the names of the steps. Is there in the latest technique books a Switch Turn. Also we must take into consideration that there are no alignments in Latin dances. But on some steps if we turn into them instead of at the completion of the step It can look very shabby compared to somebody who takes the step straight and turns at the end of. About changing the names and giving pet names to the different figures If this is allowed to continue it will become out of control.
Re: Alemana
Posted by Waltz123
7/27/2013  7:02:00 PM
As for changing the names of the steps. Is there in the latest technique books a Switch Turn.

Absolutely, yes.

If you had taken the time the read my reply above in detail, you would have understood that the ISTD Latin technique book contains both the switch and the spot turn, with the switch being illustrated in chart form and the spot turn in a written paragraph.

About changing the names and giving pet names to the different figures If this is allowed to continue it will become out of control.

The only term we introduced into the mainstream was "walkaround". Actually, the term itself has been mainstream for many decades -- It's used by Arthur Murray schools to describe their version of the switch/spot turn. The only thing we're doing is applying a more specific meaning, in the context of Int'l Latin. But we didn't make that up, either. It's been floating around in the ether for years.

Giving names to various actions helps with identification. When something hasn't been "officially" identified, expect the masses to fill the void. Nature abhors a vacuum. Over time, the best nomenclature rises to the top, and everything else falls by the wayside. It is exactly as it should be.

There may be other names people use to identify the difference between the version of the spot turn taken on a straight line and one that travels around a circle or triangular path; If there are, I am not aware of them. At any rate, whether we say "walkaround" or find some other term, it is undoubtedly an improvement over saying, "You know, the spot turn where you dance on a circle, not the one where you dance on a straight line". Being concise with our communication is, after all, the very reason we give names to things.

You may prefer to stick to one single interpretation of the spot turn, both in execution and in naming. You should realize, however, that the majority of the dance teaching community has moved on and accepts multiple interpretations, including the switch turn, as well as both versions the spot turn: The one danced on a straight line, and the circular/triangular one. And they're all officially sanctioned by the ISTD, and have been for well over a decade.

Regards,
Jonathan
Re: Alemana
Posted by O.K.
7/31/2013  4:44:00 PM
Never the less. A Spot Turn is a Spot Turn . A Switch Turn is a Switch Turn. An Alemana Turn has a Delayed Forward Walk for the lady on the Right Foot which the others have not. The position of the hand and arm and the use of them is also different. Also the mans step are different. The Alemana may be more difficult but don`t try to replace such a beautiful step with a substitute.
Re: Alemana
Posted by Waltz123
8/6/2013  12:12:00 AM
An Alemana Turn has a Delayed Forward Walk for the lady on the Right Foot which the others have not. The position of the hand and arm and the use of them is also different.

These are all qualities you alone personally attach to the Alemana, but they are not in fact definitive of it. We all have specific ways we like to see things danced, whether in basic mechanics or artistic or musical interpretation. That's all well and good, but whether I prefer delayed walks or immediate weight transfers, the lady's left hand extended or contracted or even placed on the man's chest, lady spotting the man or looking in the direction she's going, etc, it all still falls under the umbrella of an Alemana. Dance it with any interpretation you like. What defines a movement is not the icing but the cake.

As you so often recommend to other participants of this forum, I suggest you look more closely at the latest revision of the technique book. It sets out very explicit parameters for both the Alemana and Switch Turns, and these are what define the figures. They tell you exactly what makes an Alemana an Alemana, both by inclusion and omission. They very specifically leave out certain information, such as exactly where the feet are placed for the Alemana ("3 forward walks under raised arm" -- leaves room for interpretation). The only mention of an extended walk is an option given as what they call a "development", which is basically a variation, not the fundamental version. Of course, there are many other variations given as well, including ones that begin or end closed or open facing, and even one that is lead with a RH-RH hold. All of these are listed under Alemana.

Bottom line is, the Alemana as defined by the ISTD as follows: An underarm turn to R where the lady takes 3 circling walks, typically (but not always) commenced in fan position. That's it. Anything else you add is your own. And if we all start creating our own definitions for things, well, to quote someone in an earlier post on this thread, "If this is allowed to continue it will become out of control."

Regards,
Jonathan
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