The Walking Turn. Right from the start the 2nd or 3rd thing a Lead must learn is how to turn the Follower. Usually most Leads are taught the sexier turn, learning to lead the Follower’s Molinete to their Lead Giro. It’s a harder turn to learn for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that the Lead must master disassociation first and foremost, and secondarily not to use their arms or hands to push or pull the Follower. That along with the timing of certain aspects of the guidance of the Follower’s Molinete can make it rather challenging. So you would think, given all that, that teachers would eschew teaching the Lead how to generate the Follower’s Molinete in favor of a much simpler turn. Nope. Most teachers go right for the Molinete/Giro combo and skip right past the simplest turn of all: The Walking Turn!
What is a Walking Turn ? In it's simplest form, it is exactly what it sounds like, a turn where the Lead is walking in a very tight circle with their Follower. However, note the operative words there 'simplest form'. Meaning or implying that there are is a level of complexity to this turn. And that's putting it mildly. The Walking Turn has some tricks up its sleeve. Meaning that you can quite easily augment it with the 6 ways of walking to change it and/or spice it up a bit. The real trick of the turn is that it can be done in close or open embrace, with any partner, regardless of style and yes, it can work within the line AND lane of dance.
The Problem: There’s a reason why this turn isn’t taught all that often. Actually 3 reasons. 1.) It is all too easy for The Walking Turn to become a navigational hazard, when executed by a beginner Lead, thereby breaking the line and lane of dance. 2.) it’s not sexy by comparison to the follower’s molinete, but rather it is very functional. And for some reason we like sexy and eschew functional. 🙂 The problem is that the turn itself while being very easy to learn, can be difficult to execute. 3.) After about 2 or 3 steps, depending on the size of your steps, will invariably have you and your partner facing against the line of dance. And this is a major no-no! And if this something your teacher has not told you about, then fire that teacher immediately. Because this is one of those things that you should have drilled into your head! Which is a really good reason the turn is almost never taught to beginner leads, because they’ll end up screwing up the turn, freaking out when something doesn’t go right, and thereby screwing up the line of dance which in turn creates a navigational nightmare!
However, with a little judicious study, and some hard work, the turn can be taught, and executed with a great deal of control and precision, and eventually can become a useful staple of every Lead’s arsenal of turning tools in today’s modern version of Argentine Tango.
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From a Following Perspective, this is walking backwards for you, not much work for you at all. Or so you would think. There’s just one little tiny thing that makes it a little challenging, and that’s the judgement that a walking turn is being engaged, and how to manage it. The managing it part comes down to focusing on the extension itself and how you place your foot on the floor within the tight confines of the turn itself. Put simply, this is smallER steps for you, and matching the intention to the size of the step and staying with your lead all at the same time. The kicker is the intention part. Because for the beginner lead, unless they’ve been properly trained, they’re going to overshoot this one by a country mile and force larger steps out of you without meaning to do so, and thereby as a result end up going outside their lane of dance and making a muuuuuch wider turn than is necessary. You have 3 goals in this turn. 1.) Shorten your step. 2.) You have to curve your back steps. The curve is gradual and gentle, not immediate. It’s just enough to turn us as a couple and not enough to be egregious. 3.) The relationship of the couple is absolutely paramount! Meaning ? You have to stay in front of your lead at all times. Given the propensity for most leads to place you in their armpit this is even more challenging on multiple levels. Now add a compressive or restrictive embrace type and you’re just asking for a visit to the chiropractor the next morning.
From a Leading Perspective, this is a must have turn for you, especially at the beginning, and for years to come. However, before we get to that part, we have to address the primary issues - The entry point for the turn isn’t correct and as a result we end up with a much wider turn than we need. Then we over compensate in our intention making longer steps than we need to, making the turn even wider, and by that time we’re facing against the line of dance and/or out of our lane of dance. Not desirable. There are 9 turns that you will be taught in your tango life. The 9 Types ? 1.) The Follower’s Molinete (open embrace, and close embrace). 2.) The Milonguero Turn. 3.) The Rock Step. 4.) The Ocho Cortado. 5.) Calecitas (coming soon). 6.) Walking Turns. 7.) Single Axis Turns. 8.) Colgada Turns. And 9.) The Media Luna. Hmmmm but you’ll notice that the Walking Turn isn’t on this list, and that’s because of the fact that for ONE step you’re going against the line of dance, and it’s all too easy for a beginner Lead to lose their frakkin’ minds and end up going against the line of dance. The turn itself is a natural progression from walking in the line of dance, only now we add turning with that walk, in a very tight space.
You’re going to ask yourself why on earth you need to spend an hour of your life that you’ll seemingly never get back learning something as simple as The Walking Turn? And the answer to that is not just because you can easily prevent the beginner screw ups that are going to happen by learning where the turn has to start, and then how to continually manage yourself and the follower without using the embrace! Now we add a little but very important nuance. What’s that ? Walking Systems! You see this is not just about walking in parallel system, but rather engaging all six! Walking in straight lines is all fine and good, however in today’s modern tango world where everything becomes a turn due to the ronda not moving, learning to curve or turn that walk in say 3 track cross system ? or Lazy Ochos ? Or an Inside Snake Walk ? Now you’re onto something! Honestly this is a beautiful turn, and a really wonderful musical tool, not to mention the navigational possibilities are quite limitless. It’s beautiful because it accentuates the walk. Today’s version of Tango, due to the ronda not moving, has become a turning (Molinete/Giro) nightmare that is very undesirable and a little repetitive. So one way that we can turn (no pun intended) tango back into a desirable visual and pleasurable experience accentuating the walk is to either fix the ronda issues (not going to happen unless organizers and teachers get their act together), or Lead’s begin to use The Walking Turn!
From a Dancing Perspective is that you’re going to see the turn, and think to yourself, I can do that. Until you realize that the issues pointed out above are all true and then you really do need to learn how to do this from a Leading perspective and a Following perspective. That’s the reality. Once you learn the turn’s inner workings and why it works, you’ll want to play with it everywhere in the line of dance. And this is where the turn takes on it’s beauty, it’s elegance. You’ll want to make the turn elegant simply because you can. You’ll want to start playing with the musical aspects of it. You’ll want to experiment with the walking systems and see how you can augment it. You’ll want to play with the tightness of the turn itself, to play with the size or your steps, to see just how far you can push it before it evolves into a rotation and not a walking turn.
About The Video. This video comes in at 1hr:8m in length in 19 Sections. Both lead and follower technique is combined and integrated in the video.
Section 1 - Introduction - 00:01:00
Section 2 - Set Up: 5 Embraces - 00:01:20
Section 3 - Basic Floorcraft - 00:02:00
Section 4 - Tango Hapitcs - 00:01:02
Section 5 - Without The Lead Back Step - 00:00:37
Section 6 - Set Up - Relationship = Alignment - 00:01:23
Section 7 - Starting The Turn - 00:02:00
Section 8 - The Walking Turn - 00:00:58
Section 9 - The Walking Turn with the 5 Embraces - 00:07:47
Section 10 - Follower Technique - 00:06:11
Section 11 - Lead Technique - 00:01:37
Section 12 - The Relationship - 00:03:21
Section 13 - Footwork: Closeups - 00:04:59
Section 14 - Why Walking Systems - 00:00:58
Section 15 - Walking Turns with 6 Walking Systems Explained - 00:06:49
Section 16 - Walking Turns with 6 Walking Systems Applied - 00:11:38
Section 17 - Walking Turns - Errors - 00:05:44
Section 18 - Embrace Reminders - 00:04:46
Section 19 - Closure - 00:02:07
You can purchase the video for the kingly sum of $34.99 from the video store and whole bunch of other items that can improve your understanding and application of technique.
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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 and walk you through the how the Walking Turn works! That’s why!
So, please, go right ahead, go watch all the presentation videos on youtube all you want. Because that's what they are 'Presentation' videos. The couple's that you're used to seeing are performing for the 15th row for a room full of people, they're not social dancing. Whereas this website is all about 'Social Dancing'. So please, go spend your time, trying to infer, and figure out how things may work in that situation. Bend your body this way or that, twist and force this position or that. Place your foot here or there and figure it out. Which can be a lot of fun, but more than likely it won't help you, because you're missing something: The explanation from an experienced teacher! (ahem) ME! The goal of youtube videos is to entice you to go study with those teachers in person. The goal of these videos is allow you to work at your own pace, in the comfort of your own space, so that you can play them over and over again to improve your understanding of the vocabulary or technique being described to therefore better your dancing experience. The goal of classes and workshops is to get you to come back over and over and over again, thereby spending more money with that teacher. This website and the videos under it are here to act as a resource for you to help you to improve your dance. Pay once and be done with it. 😉
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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 prepared to do so!
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