Spin, Then Travel

West Coast Swing Online Spins & Turns

Now that we’re practiced both forward and backward pivot turns, it’s time to put them together in a sequence. For this drill, we will use the follower’s inside roll, which contains three pivot turns on counts 3, the & of 3, and 4.

The technique principle for this exercise is true for all turns: there is no such thing as a traveling spin. Every spin that travels is broken into two motions: spin, then travel. If you try to do both at the same time, then you are rotating around a stationary object (your supporting leg) while simultaneously trying to shift your center down the line, away from your supporting leg. We have a word to describe when your center is not over your support—falling. Unless you’re dancing for comic effect, that’s not the look you want. Controlled, stable, and balanced spins look that way because the spin and the travel are separate moments.

The Drill: Step forward with your left foot in open third position and let your right shoulder rotate back to match the line of your feet and hips. This is count 2 of a follower’s left side inside roll if the follower has been prepped for the spin.

From this position, take three pivot turns to the left, going halfway around for each pivot. Your first pivot is a forward pivot around your left foot. Pause at the end of that pivot while your weight is on your left toe base to make sure that you are not falling out of the spin. From there, step backwards onto your right toe base, making sure that you do not settle onto the right heel. Do a backwards pivot on your right foot (still rotating to your left), and again pause at the end of the rotation. Step onto your left toe base and do one more forward pivot. Once more, pause after the pivot before settling back on your right foot.

The goal of this drill is consistency, not necessarily speed. You want to be controlled at each point through the pivot so that you can step and hold the position prior to the turn, you can turn while staying balanced, and you can hold the position at the end of the pivot before settling onto your free foot.

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