5 pro tips for mastering turns — lessons from our salsa immersions
We spend so much of our time on the dance floor turning, it’s well worth getting our technique on lock-down — so we’re not wobbling through turns like off-balance baby guerillas. If you’re looking to up your turn game, you’re in luck! We’ve put together 5 essential tips, taught in the dance class section of our salsa immersions, to get you gliding through turns.
1. Lean in
In order to turn like a pro, you’ll need to make sure your weight is shifted towards the front half of your foot. If your weight is too far back towards your heel, chances are you’ll teeter, big time. No need to be waaay up on your tippy toes. Just make sure you’re leaning forward ever so slightly, with the weight in the ball of your foot.
And there’s more: as you step through your turn, make sure you are transferring your weight entirely into the foot you are stepping forward with. Picture a dreidel – it spins on a single point (not two points). Your turn will be much smoother if you make sure that your weight is concentrated in one foot at a time.
2. Crank up the tension
When you turn, you need your body to move as a single unit — not as a loose jumble of parts. Your abs and legs should feel more like a wooden plank, and less like an inflatable doll.
We work with our salsa immersion students on firming up their cores and lower bodies to help with their turn technique. It can help to squeeze your booty a little bit, and think of your entire body, from the ribs down, as locked into place.
3. Laser-gaze at a fixed point
When it comes to balance — in anything from yoga to karate to salsa — gaze matters almost as much as footwork. Focusing your gaze on a fixed point as you turn (a technique called “spotting”), will keep you from getting dizzy and help you turn with greater control. It can help if you focus on a specific object off in the direction you are turning — i.e. a wall clock, a cool poster, or a nearby plate of mac and cheese.
4. Close yo’ legs
It’s a common mistake we see at our salsa immersions all the time — turning with too much space between your legs, kinda like this…
It looks clumsy, and scatters the distribution of your body weight. When your legs are close together, it makes it easier for you to concentrate your body weight into a single point (like the dreidel). Imagine that you are turning with a book between your thighs, and you can’t let it fall.
5. Turn yourself (ain’t no one to do it for you)
When you’re watching a couple dance, it might appear that the leader is providing all the power and momentum behind the turns. This is an illusion! Leaders, there’s no need to fling your partner through a turn with exaggerated force. Followers should turn themselves, for the most part. As a leader, all you need to provide is a gentle impulse so the follower knows to turn.
Followers: try not to hang too much on your leader’s hand, expecting them to provide the power behind the turn. Practice turning on your own, so you’ll hone your ability to turn with your own force.
Level up your turns at Somoloco Salsa Immersion
We could talk about salsa turns alllll day long. But talking will only get you so far. Get out there and groove with our pro instructors (like Johan and Estefania) at our Colombia-based salsa immersion. The concept is simple: level up your salsa in a vibrant Colombian city — with more one-on-one instruction, for less $$. Learn more about our salsa dance bootcamps.