Today we are covering 4 Basic Salsa Turns!

We’ll break these basic salsa turns into the following 4 categories…

Turn Technique: This video starts with what looks like shine-work (solo work). The series of steps after the first Basic Step, are actually a method for practicing our turn technique. For me, proper turn technique for salsa is inherent in the widely used ‘Suzzie-Q’ step–a weave step that traverses to the right and to the left. When the step changes from right traverse to left, we see a very small ‘turn’–many people may not choose to call it a turn, but technically speaking it is at least a quarter turn, and in some cases a full 180 degrees. Here, we are practicing the 180 degree turns. We ‘open’ over the back end of our first basic, and pivot 90 degrees over our right foot on 7 and 8. I want you to pay close attention to the use of hands in these counts while watching the video. There should be tension in the inside shoulder of any turn (almost a pulling back). In this case, it’s that tension that we build in the shoulder that helps pull our body clock-wise on 7 and 8. We are repeating this technique over the left foot on 3 and 4–building tension in the left shoulder to pull ourselves counter clock-wise. The rest of the routine, is just a repetition of this technique. Remember, these turns can be a small or as big as you like: they can be quarter turns (90 degrees), half turns (180, about face), three quarters, or even a full 360 pivot. When you understand how to incorporate them into the less extravagant areas of your shine work (like when coming out of the basic into a suzzie-q) you will have a mechanism allowing you to practice turn technique even within steps you wouldn’t normally think of as turns.

Left Turn: A 360 degree counter-clockwise turn, generally spread out over 8 counts requiring two separate 180 degree pivots. The first of these pivots occurs over the stationary two in the Basic Step, bringing the dancer about face for three, when the left foot falls on the vertical line of a ⊥ shape. Stepping forward on the right for 5, the dancer pivots 180 degrees over that foot, bringing him about face once more. Stepping forward on the left for 6 and bringing the feet together from the right foot on 7, the turn is complete.

Hook Turn: A difficult clockwise turn generally on the back end of the Basic Step, requiring a 360 pivot over a stationary foot. After finishing the front end of the Basic Step, the right foot opens into the ⊥ position on 5 (the vertical being the left foot, and the horizontal being the right). From there, without lifting the foot from the ground, we pivot 360 degrees over the left foot. We finish with a very small step forward with the right foot on 7.

Walkthrough of the pair-work to come!…

CAUTION: I know some people like to think of turns as “Men’s turns” and “Women’s turns”. Salsa may be one of the only dance genres to divide these two. In Jazz or Ballet, however, a turn is a turn. And for me, Salsa turns are the same: Men and Women have the same base. Ladies may choose to add more feminine styling to their turns, but their actual technique should be no different from the men. What you find in the above video is only the base technique. Once you are comfortable with this technique, you are more than free to make the turn your own by adding in those custom touches (a head roll, or some sexy hands–whatever you like). **I don’t recommend playing with styling until you’ve mastered the proper turn technique.