Cuban Salsa: Tornado Variations

The Tornado is a unique basic figure of just one count of eight. It is not just a figure, more like a family of figures because it can be applied in four different ways. The Tornado can best be described as a technique the Lead can use to turn the Follow in different situations by wrapping his arms around her.

The four ways to do Tornado:

  1. Tornado de Vacillala
  2. Tornado de Dile Que No
  3. Tornado de Enchufla
  4. Tornado de Habanero

The first three methods are common: I have found hundreds of videos. Tornado de Habanero is rare: I have only found a handful of videos.

Tornado de Vacilala

Tornado de Vacilala is the most elegant of the Tornado moves, because the two Tornado arm wraps can be divided over the full count of eight. First wrap on 1-2-3 for Vacilala, the second wrap on 5-6-7 for the Habanero turn.

Video 1 is from – “Poznańska Szkoła Salsy Kubańskiej”, 2013, featuring Piotr Aagassi Chajkowski and his “I never back rock unless a bad Lead forces me to do so” super Follow. Piotr uses a simple Enchufla to get into the start position for Tornado de Vacilala.

Same Video on YouTube

Note that the Follow ducks down in order not to get her head knocked off. It works well if the Follow is good. But this is in my opinion not have we should teach the move, because it implies that the Follow must know the move and remember to dock down when she senses the Tornado is coming.

Video 2 is from an APP called “Salsa Anywhere”. It is mostly X-Body Salsa on One and on Two, but it also has an interesting section with Cuban Salsa moves. Peter Fige manages to do Tornado de Vacilala with a Follow taller than himself, and he has no problem leading the move in such a way that the Follow doesn’t need to dock down: the Lead must stay close to the Follow and make sure that he lifts his arms as much as necessary.

The exit Peter Fige uses in the video, the Leading going up between the Follow’s arms, is very popular.

The Follow doesn’t need to duck if the Lead leads the Tornado well but in most videos, I have found, the Follow docks down as we see in Video 3 from “Dolce Dance”, Hungary, 2010. The exit in this video, the Leading going under both the Follow’s arms is also very common.

Same Video on YouTube

We have seen two different ways for how to get into the start position for the Tornado de Vacilala. The last two videos use the Balsero move to get into the start position. We have also seen three different ways to exit it. I will present all the more common options in a tutorial named Tornado de Vacilala.

Tornado de Dile Que No

This Tornado tends to be fast because both arm movements take place on 5-6-7 as part of the Coca-Cola turn. Tornado de Dile Que No is important because it makes counter clockwise turning more interesting than just doing a Dile Que No. We need counter clockwise turning to balance the predominant clockwise motion in Cuban Salsa.

Video 4 is from a Yoandy Villaurrutia class labeled “Yoandy Villaurrutia – Salsa 27.05.14”, Moscow, Russia, 2014. Yoandy has as many ways to exit the move as we have Follows in the World, but in this video he just exit it the very traditional way, up though the Follow’s arms.

Video 5 is also from a Yoandy Villaurrutia class labeled “Yoandy Villaurrutia – Salsa Advanced 25.06.13”, Moscow, Russia, 2013. It shows another popular way to exit Tornado de Dile Que No: by doing an opposite Tornado, a Tornado Inverso. This works best from Dile Que No because it is natural to go clockwise again.

Video 6 is from a class or workshop with Jose Luis Pelayo Herrera, labeled “Salsa lessen (Samenvatning van de lessen) Figuren”, Holland, 2012. Note that he gives the Follow a left-to-left handed Vacilala on 1-2-3, then gives himself a hook turn and brings his right arm all over the Follow and ask for the Follow’s right hand underneath her left arm. He could just as well do it on top like in all the other videos we have seen.

For Tornado de Dile Que No both ways work equally good, but the exits end up being very different. Stick to one method until you really own the Tornado, the ins and outs.

Tornado de Enchufla

The Tornado de Enchufla is the least Tornado looking of the three Tornado types for the Follow. Enchufla is only a half turn and in Tornado de Enchufla it is very common to execute it more like a tunnel, making the Follow walk in and out with her back out first!

Video 7 is from the “Salsa Everywhere” APP. Peter Fige shows us that Tornado de Enchufla can be done as a proper half turn Enchufla. The “tunnel” style is not a necessity.

Video 8 is from “Grimaldidance”, Spain, 2020. It show a vey common way to do Tornado de Enchufla with very little “Enchufla”. More like “in and out” through a tunnel (El Túnel), with the Follow’s back out first!

Same Video on YouTube

Video 9 is from “Salsa PSL”, 2016. They call their video “Tornado Complicado”. It is interesting because it starts with a “Tornado to the Lead”, a Tornado de Hombre and then a Tornado de Enchufla done the “tunnel” way. I like the idea of combining the two moves.

Same Video on YouTube

Tornado de Habanero

If the Follow don’t do Vacilala on 1-2-3 but just walk and turns on 5-6-7 as she is given the two arm wraps, the proper name for the figure is Tornado de Habanero. I have only found a handful of videos with this Tornado variation. They all feature Yoandy Villaurrutia, he is in love with Tornado figures and uses all four variation. Since the variation is not that common, I only show one video.

Video 10 is a clip from a Yoandy video labeled, “Salsa Class Jan 17 – Yoandy Villaurrutia & Natashe”, probably Moscow, Russia, 2018. Note that it starts like A Bayamo figures. The lead up to the Tornado as well as the exit are rather creative in the typical style of Yoandy.

General start position

The best way to generalise the Tornado is to look at the image below. The Lead is in front of the Follow like in the move called El Dos (Cubanito). His arms are stretched back and hold the Follow’s hands, left-to-left, and right-to-right.

Get ready for the start position.

Next the Lead turns left to get into the start position for Tornado de Vacilala or the Lead turns right in order to get into the start position for Tornado de Dile Que No or for Tornado de Enchufla.

Vacilala and Habanero start position

The Lead turns his body left, getting his right arm bend behind his back, in order to get into the start position for Tornado de Vacilala. Notice the left arm on top.

Start position for Tornado de Vacilala

Dile Que No and Enchufla start position

The Lead turn his body right, getting his left arm bend behind his back, in order to get into the start position for Tornado de Dile Que No or for Tornado de Enchufla.

Start position for Tornado de Dile Que No and for Tornado de Enchufla

Very popular

Many of the world’s best dancers, like Yoandy and Jose, use the “Tornado” technique in almost every second dance. The Tornado is so beloved, when you know it, that you simply most use it. Peter Fige uses it as the main feature in three out of 15 advanced moves in the “Salsa Everywhere” APP. I have found the Tornado in more than 100 videos.

Names for Tornado

We have many named “Rueda” type of moves containing Tornado. Some of them use alternative name like Túnel (Tunnel), Turbo, Enroscate. But most of the “Tornado” figures just pop up without a name in videos from workshops, classes and social dancing.

Considering that the Tornado is a vertical rotating tunnel that can sometimes tilt and be partly horizontal, I think it is proper to call all “Tornado” moves for Tornado even when they look more like a tunnel.

The main goal in this tutorial is to promote the understanding that Tornado is a technique that can be used in three completely different ways: “Vacilala”, “Dile Que No” and “Enchufla”.

I will make general tutorials for each one of them focusing on how to get into the start position and on the different exits.

I will also make named move tutorials for common or good moves containing a Tornado.

I will also make a tutorial about The Lead’s Tornado, the Tornado de Hombre we saw a glimpse of in the last video.

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