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4. Natural Spin Turn
Fact Sheet
Official Name:Natural Spin Turn
Dance / Level:Beginning Bronze Slow Waltz
Aliases:Spin Turn, Lilt Pivot
Natural Turn

The Natural Spin Turn is the student's introduction to pivots, and despite its tendency to be taught early in the Waltz syllabus, is a figure quite high in difficulty.

The figure begins with the first 3 steps of a Natural Turn. From there, the man and lady dance two pivoting steps. This is followed by a step to the side & slightly back for man, and diagonally forward for lady as the turn is completed. Up to 7/8 turn to right can be taken over these last 3 steps.

There are two common variations of amount of turn used for this figure. The first, considered the basic version, is typically taken at the side of the room, dancing 7/8 of a turn over steps 4-6 to end with man backing diagonal center. The second version is the underturned Spin Turn. It is taken with 5/8 turn to rigght over steps 4-6, and is useful for either turning a corner, or for changing the man's alignment from diagonal wall to diagonal center at the side of the room.

To understand the mechanics of a Natural Spin Turn, it is important to be aware of the differences between what is referred to as a pivot and a pivoting action. On the 4th step of the figure, the man steps back on his left foot to dance a pivot, which is a turn over the weighted foot, with the free foot being held in CBMP. Meanwhile, the lady steps forward on her right foot to dance a pivoting action. Rather than turning the foot itself, she keeps it pointing forward, rolling through the ankle as she would a normal forward step, with only the body turning to the right as it passes over the foot. It is only after the weight has mostly passed the foot that it will turn. Her free foot, rather than being held in CBMP, should swing forward toward the position of the following step.

A note on footwork: The pivot has a very interesting type of footwork, described in the technical charts as "toe-heel-toe" for the man. This is an indication that the weight should be held toward the ball of the foot throughout the step, which enables the foot to pivot easily. Nonetheless, the heel should be allowed to lower and remain in light contact with the floor, so that the body does not rise unnaturally while weight is taken on the foot.

The 5th step of the Natural Spin Turn is also a type of pivot, this time for the lady, known as a toe pivot. Because the step is taken with foot rise, her version of the pivot is taken on the toe of the left foot. Her left foot, rather than being held in CBMP, will naturally brush to or toward the right foot, due to the rise. The degree to which the right foot moves toward the left depends on the amount of turn: On a underturned Spin Turn, it will close completely (but without weight), whereas on a Spin Turn with the normal amount of turn, it will only brush toward. Later on in the syllabus, there is an overturned Spin Turn where the lady's foot is simply held in CBMP.

The Spin Turn in bronze Waltz is most typically followed by 4-6 Reverse Turn, but can also be followed by a Reverse Pivot or Reverse Corté. For a complete list of prceding and following figures, refer to the precedes and follows tabs above.

4b. Underturned Natural Spin Turn

This common variation of the Spin Turn limits the rotation, resulting in different alignments. When the typical amalgamation of Spin Turn to 4-6 Reverse Turn is used, the normal Spin Turn ends with man facing diagonal wall. The underturned Spin results in a diagonal center alignment, opening up many more possibilities of figures to follow.

In addition to adding variety, other benefits of this variation include:

  • Turning a corner: At a corner, the finished alignment of diagonal center becomes diagonal wall of the new line of dance. The underturned version therefore leaves the dancer with the same alignment at a corner as he would have had if dancing the normal Spin Turn along the side of the room.
  • A stepping stone: With less rotation overall, the underturned Spin is a nice tool to introduce the concept of pivots to the beginning student.
  • Underturning the Spin Turn is also an easy method to introduce the Reverse Pivot to a student. Because the two figures turn in opposite directions, both must be equally underturned, making the Reverse Pivot a less intimidating prospect for the novice dancer.

Note the differences in how the turn breaks down over steps 4-6 in each version of the Spin Turn. A common mistake is to rotate the full amount (1/2 to left) on step 4, then only 1/8 more over 5-6. This results in an awkward checked type of movement toward the end of the pattern. When underturning the Spin Turn, it is best to divide the rotation more equally -- 3/8 on step 4, then 1/4 over 5-6 -- for the smoothest and most natural action.


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