Tango Topics | Social Dancing Tools

Single Axis Turns

The Single Axis Turn is tango specific language to describe a type of turn where the shared axis (that’s the ‘single’ part) movement between the partnership results in a deliberate turn or rotation, more a rotation than anything else. In much the same way that a Volcada is a shared axis movement, the Single Axis Turn is exactly the same in that respect. However, where as in the case of the Volcada, where the partnership goes towards each other, in this case, they go away. There’s a reason for that by the way. To be clear, there are 3 axial lines in a Volcada. The Lead’s, The Follower’s, and the one quite literally between them, that’s the shared axis. In the Single Axis Turn instead of it being rather palpable, it’s more implied than anything else. Things get even more ‘complicated’ when you recognize that the Single Axis Turn (and there’s not just one) is really a Colgada. And that’s because it is one, it’s a variation on a Colgada turn. All Colgadas are Single Axis Turns! That said….let’s look at the Single Axis Turn.

Check Please! The video above is only a small snippet of the HD video (run time: 13:51). It only shows 1 of the 2 included completed vocabulary, but not how to construct it. If you'd like you can download single axis turns for just 19.99.

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From A Following Perspective, for you, the Single Axis Turn is going to feel awkward for a variety of reasons. Not the least of which is the fact that 2 separate things are going on that are going to confuse the hell out of you at the same time. First ? The fact that you’re in close, very close as if you were in Close Embrace (and that’s because you are), in almost exactly the same position for a Volcada. The truth is that the primary type of Single Axis Turn starts out exactly the same way as a Volcada (not all do but the primary type does), so rightfully you’re going to get a little confused thinking ‘Volcada’ and not ‘Single Axis Turn’.  Secondly, is the fact that pre-cue lead for almost any variant of the Single Axis Turn (and there are loads of them) is going to want to make you go away from your L/lead! Remember, this is basically a Colgada, it’s just a very small and tight one!  Those two things alone will drive you right over the edge. And if that weren’t confusing enough, that’s just the descriptive of the gotcha’s from your side of the equation. We haven’t even gotten to nearly everything that typically goes wrong with these things for the lead!

One gotcha that happens in certain versions of the Single Axis Turn and most Colgadas that has to be addressed is the fact of ‘planking’. What’s that ? Planking refers to your bodily posture, as in it being piled up or making your body into a plank, as if it were a board or a piece of cut wood for flooring. As a result, you’ll use your arms and hands to hang on for dear life, when that’s not what has to happen at all. Remember this is about shared balance, not about hanging on. The trick is to find the balancing point between yourself and your lead. Truthfully a good portion of your leads force this, this is going to exceptionally tricky!

The real key to the Single Axis Turn for you is keeping a very, very, very small and tight physiological profile. The smaller, and tighter that profile, the more successful that the Single Axis Turn will be. Your desire when led to them (properly…ahem…looking at you, Leads!) is going to be to want to let your free leg go away from you, and that’s the problem right there. You can’t. You have to keep your legs together (and really your feet). At the same time, you’re quite literally being told, to go away from your lead! That’s the confusing part. In nearly every Colgada that you’ve ever seen, the partnership is going away from each other. Centrifugal force pushes them away. In this case, the Single Axis Turn appears to go towards the partnership! It’s an illusion! And the kicker comes when you’re being led to one because the feeling is to go away from the lead, when in fact you’re being led to stay right in front of them!

Truthfully what happens for you is that you’re in close embrace (in most of them), and you’re going to stay in close embrace, and from the outside looking in, it appears like you’re staying in close embrace the entire time that nothing has really changed. But you, being on the inside, everything has changed!

From a Leading Perspective, the Single Axis Turn is definitely flashy vocab. No two ways about it. However, don’t let that deter you from understanding how and why this thing works. Let’s get a few things out of the way. First, the Turn itself is more like a rotation than anything else. Don’t get confused by the language. It’s a rotation. Secondly these types of turns (there are many, the video above only shows you 1 of 3 that are contained in the video) should only be done by an advancing dancer, not a beginner, and certainly not someone that’s just walked on to the floor for the first time. You’ll see a small number of Leads that don’t know their collective ass from their elbows pulling this stuff on unsuspecting Followers for a variety of reasons and when it invariable fails (and it does) they blame the Follower and then try to teach them on a social dance floor what they should be doing. For them, this is about control and confusion. Suffice it said, you don’t want to be that Lead, ever. Thirdly, the Single Axis Turn is not something you pick up in a class in 5 minutes. It’s not. This is something that if it’s done improperly can actually hurt you, and more importantly, your partner. It’s for this reason that just watching and analyzing a youtube presentation video (and there are tons of them out there) that just shows you the finished product of a single axis turn (or a type or variation) is about as helpful as a small kitchen appliance unplugged and about as dangerous as a mountain lion. They look cute but can tear your arm off! You need to understand how and why Single Axis Turns work the way that they do before you even attempt to do one! The video above shows you that and more.

That said, the Single Axis Turn is all about shared balance, not support. As in the case of the Volcada where you are supporting the Follower with your torso, the Single Axis Turn is the polar opposite of that. It’s all about shared balance. Which roughly translates as finding the proper balancing point between the partnership and then exploiting the frak out of it. 🙂 Because once you do find that balancing point, there are lots and lots of things you can do to manipulate it, change it, modify it, and retune it to do what you want it to do. And all of that starts with hearing/feeling where precisely the shared axis point is at and then, here’s the kicker, initiating a rotation! And that’s where things go right off the rails for a lot of people. That rotation, the turn part, is where a lot of you reading this are going to want to use your arms to pull, push, and squeeze (compression) the frak out of your partners in order to generate the rotation part that gives the Single Axis Turn it’s namesake. However, here’s the real secret to the Single Axis Turn, all of them: While there is a locking of the Lead’s frame (to a degree), there is almost no compression! There is a tiny, ever so slight use of the lead’s right arm that acts as a cage, but for the most part it allows for the partnership to breathe, not to squeeze the living daylights out your partner! And watching a whole bunch of Youtube videos on the topics of Colgadas and Single Axis Turns, you’ll never see this. Ever! That’s because 98% of what you’ve seen, you’ll never hear the person that’s presenting those turns to you, talk about what they’re doing. That’s because you actually have to pay for the class folks! Watching the video is to entice you to go and study with that couple, not to steal their work! At least here, you know exactly what you’re getting, that if you want the toys, subscribe! Or download the product!

The real key to the Single Axis Turn, all of them, is all about foot placement. Place your feet in the right zones and you get a Single Axis Turn. Put them in the wrong place….and you’re going to get either an oblong confusing forward ocho, or the Follower will misread everything and give you their free leg to swing around!

Lastly it should be noted that while there are many, many, many varieties of Single Axis Turns, they’re all variations on a theme - The Colgada. So if you understand how a Colgada works, then the Single Axis Turn is a variation on a theme of that idea.



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From a Dancing Perspective the Single Axis Turn looks cool. And it is. When done properly, it can be very elegant and clean. Not to mention, it also has the added benefit of what I call the “Whoosh & Wheeee” Effect. What’s that ? It’s where the Lead initiates said cool vocabulary, and the couple goes ‘Whoosh’ and Follower more than likely (assuming said vocabulary has been executed properly) goes ‘Wheeeeee!’. E.g. It’s FUN. This is one of those rare times when I say that Tango can be fun, and it’s right here in this piece of vocabulary. It’s quite literally one of the more fun things that you can do on a social dance floor, and still look insanely cool, and elegant at the same time. When does that happen ? Almost never. This variation on a theme does that very, very nicely. elegance and cool at the same time. Truthfully though, without proper instruction lots of things can go wrong here, and that’s what this video is all about. It shows you how to construct a Single Axis Turn safely, clearly, cleanly from both sides of the equation! The reality is that you’re going to read to this point, or just watch the video above (the free version, the paid version you actually get to see the whole video) and then be unsatisfied, and then go watch other youtube videos for the ‘answer’ on how-to-do a Single Axis Turn. And that’s a mistake. I can not stress this enough, this is not something you learn in a 3 minute presentation video that you think you can analyze your way out of. You must understand the underpinnings of why this stuff works. But a good portion of you reading this will not head this advice, and think that this is just sales talk and fear mongering. It’s not. It’s for your safety and your partner’s safety. So I implore you: ‘learn how to do a single axis turn properly’ otherwise you are going to hurt you and your partners!

Check Please! The video above is only a small snippet of the HD video (run time: 13:51). It only shows 1 of the 2 included completed vocabulary, but not how to construct it. If you'd like you can download single axis turns for just 19.99.

FREEMIUM ACCESSget access for free, just register Subscribe for $1.99enter code: "TANGO7-199" 20% OFF DIAMONDenter code: "DIAMOND-20" Get GOLD+VIDEO Membershipget video feedback of your dance!

The Missing Information.  There's a free tip (for registered free users) that's not here because you're not logged in. If you were logged in, you'd see a free tip, but because you're not, you're not seeing it. So ? If you want the free tip, then go register as a free user and login. 🙂 However, if you want the toys, and to see the 13 minute HD quality video on how to properly lead and follow a Single Axis Turn and all the toys that go with it. Then you have 2 options. 1.) You can buy it. or 2.) You can subscribe!

Watch It On Youtube. Why should you pay for this video, or subscribe to this website  when stuff like this is available on Youtube ? Because what you'll find on Youtube doesn't explain, with real world examples, of how this stuff works! That’s why! And furthermore, what you may see from some of those videos is shall we say, less than desirable social tango technique. So, please, go right ahead, go watch all the presentation videos you want. Spend your time, trying to infer, and figure out from the single camera angle how things might work in that situation. Which may help you, and more than likely it won't, because you're missing something! The explanation from an experienced teacher! Which is precisely why those videos exist on Youtube. The goal of those videos is to entice you to actually go study with those teachers in person. Eventually, one way or another you’re going to pay for this lesson, either here and now, or with them. The difference between that lesson and this ? Is that you get to play this lesson over and over and over again. Further still, there are supporting materials (other videos) that help to explain the language and the underlaying technique. Which in an hour long class, with the blind leading the blind through rotation of partners (uuuggggh!), you may glean a piece of the information you need and not get the whole thing, and you’ll miss important pieces that you’ll end up having to take a private lesson for to get the finer points. This way, you can watch over and over again, and get all the supplementary materials, and if you want you can still go take the class, only you’ll be better armed to do so!

The Last Word. Tango Topics is little reminders and snippets of information that your teachers would have told you about but didn’t have time to or didn’t care to remind you for the umpteenth millionth time. Do you need videos like these ? Yes. Why ? Simple…you need as many reminders as possible in as many forms as you can get. In today’s Tango world it does take a village to raise a dancer. And that means having as many voices, reminders, ideas, concepts, perspectives as possible. This video and the rest of the ones that are sitting behind the Tango Topics paywall are that. While what you’re seeing above is only the smallest hint of what’s contained in the actual video. It should be enough for you to make a reasoned and intelligent choice that perhaps there’s something of value in this site and the videos that are here. Considering becoming a Gold, Gold Plus, or Diamond level subscriber today.

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