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American Style Rumba
Open Break & Underarm Turn
5. Open Break & Underarm Turn

The Open Break & Underarm Turn to Right is actually a short, 2-measure combination of two components -- An Open Break, followed by the lady's Underarm Turn to Right. Although they can be taken separately, they are so commonly danced in succession that they are normally thought of as a single figure.

The Open Break

The Open Break describes a method the man can use to separate from the lady in preparation for movements taken in open facing position (e.g. Underarm Turns, Crossover Turns, etc). After a side step to right, instead of taking a normal forward rock step on his left foot in tandem with the lady, the man will instead take a back rock step away from the lady. The couple finishes the movement in open facing position.

To lead the lady to step backwards, the man releases his right hand from her back (if in closed position), and lowers his left hand to waist level with slight forward pressure ("push" connection).

The Underarm Turn to Right

The most basic Underarm Turn in Rumba is the lady's Underarm Turn to Right, commonly used as an ending to such figures as Open Break, Fifth Position Breaks, and most variations of Crossover Breaks.

After a side step to left (slow), the man will dance a rock step back on his right foot (quick-quick) while leading the lady to turn to her right under raised LH-RH hold. The turn is then followed by a side step to right (slow), which can be used to return to closed hold, or simply remain in open facing position.

From the standpoint of foot positions, the lady's part of Underarm Turn to Right is the same as the Crossover Turn to Right. Following a side step to right (slow), she turns underarm by stepping forward on left foot towards man's left side (quick), turning, then forward again on her right foot in the opposite direction (quick). She continues to turn until she is facing the man by the time she begins the following side step to left (slow), having completed 1 full turn to right.

The video clip demonstrations show the Underarm Turn to Right preceded by the first half of the Rumba Box to Open Break, as well as Crossover Breaks.

Variations of Dance Positions and Foot Positions

The Open Break can begin in either closed or open facing position. In the man's and lady's charts, the foot positions are written with the assumption that they are beginning in closed position. Therefore, the lady's foot position on step 1 is side & slightly back, as the position is released and the man leads the lady to move slightly farther apart. When begun in open facing position, however, the lady will simply step straight to the side.

By the same token, the Underarm Turn to Right can end in either closed or open facing position. As written in the charts, man and lady end open, and therefore step straight to the side on the first step of the following figure. However, to end in closed position, they must move slightly closer together, and so one or both must step side and slightly forward.


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