Cuban Salsa: The Diana Turn (Pirueta Cubana)

The two handed Pirueta Cubana is a Setenta variation (Hammerlock). In Cuban Salsa we have two basic ways to do Setenta. The Follow can turn on 1-2-3 using Vacilala, or the Follow can turn on 5-6-7 using Habanero. For Setenta done with Habanero, the Follow is lead forward on 1, she walks on 1-2-3, and turns as she continues to walk on 5-6-7. The two handed Pirueta Cubana has the same pattern but the Pirueta, the pivot foot, starts already on step three and the pirouette is on 4-5-6-7.

I saw the Pirueta Cubana the first time in a workshop video with Yoandy Villaurrutia and Diana Rodriguez. Diana uses this turn so often that it has become her signature move, and for that reason I like to call the pirouette for “the Diana turn”. Yoandy has used it in many of his classes and workshops. Pirueta Cubana has probably always been around somewhere, but these two dancers have popularised it in recent years.

1 Pirueta Cubana with two hands

Video 1 is from a workshop with Yoandy Villaurrutia and Diana Rodriguez, “Belgorod Corazon Latina”, Russia, 2015.

2 Pirueta Cubana with one hand

Video 2 is from another workshop with Yoandy Villaurrutia and Diana Rodriguez, Russia, 2011.

3 Pirueta Cubana, short version

Video 3 is also from a workshop with Yoandy Villaurrutia and Diana Rodriguez, Saint Petersburg, Russia, 2013. In this version the piruette starts on 3, the turning is on 4-5, and walking on 6-7.

4 Yoandy as Follow

Video 4 is from a Yoandy Villaurrutia class, Moscow, Russia, 2015. Yoandy, dancing in the role of the Follow, shows his students how to do the Pirueta Cubana.

5 A slow count

Video 5 is from the same workshop as above. Yoandy is now doing the piruette with a student, and she is doing fine. Maybe the counting is too slow, she finishes the full piruette on 4-5, and walks on 6-7.

A perfect Natacha

Video 6 is with Yoandy Villaurrutia and Natasha, Moscow, Russia, 2015. There are many, many videos out there with Yoandy and different Follows.

7 Is Pirueta Cubana leadable?

Video 7, another Yoandy class video, Moscow, Russia, 2015, is interesting. Even after having learned it in class, one of Yoandy’s students fails it the first time. Follows are so used to walk the Setenta turn (Hammerlock) on 1-2-3 or on 5-6-7, that it is not that easy suddenly to start a pirouette on 3. The Follow starts with Vacilala, and on three she continues with the piruette. It can be done that way, but she is not up to the task, and Yoandy only wants the piruette.

How leadable is Pirueta Habanera? A talented Follow might be able to do it just by following her Leader, but it takes a very good Lead to do it. Most Follows would need to have learned it. Maybe the Pirueta Cubana works best if you do it often with the same partner.

Pirueta Cubana could of cause be used as a call in Rueda de Casino. If both Lead and Follow have learned it, and the Follow hears the call, no strong leading is necessary.

Note in all the video clips, I call “the Diana turn” for “Pirueta Habanera”. Now I prefer to call it “the Diana turn” and to use “Pirueta Cubana” as descriptive secondary name. After all, Diana is from Santiago de Cuba.


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  • I’m glad you assigned name to this and I do apologize in advance for being ‘picky’ here, but is it not more accurate to call this a ‘Pirueta Vacilila’?

    This turn is initiated on 1-3 like a Vacilila, whereas for: regular Habanero, Vacilila Habanera, Rodeo Habanero and Exhibela Habanera are all executed on the 5. From a follower’s perspective all the Habaneros have in common a timing of 5-and-6-7, where there is an in-place turn on the ‘and’ of 5 (thats how I would describe it in music termology – or to be even more accurate the turn is on the 1/8 note between 5 and 6). I never really appreciated how tricky those ‘and’ turns are to do until I tried the feet-work in fast music – Coca-Cola is another example that has a tricky ‘and’ turn for the follower, done on the ‘and’ of 6.

    Thanks for posting all these examples, going to try this out…


    • Hi Asmo

      I have changed the name of the figure to “the Diana turn”, and I now use Pirueta Cubana as secondary descriptive title. I am not sure that I agree with your reason for not calling it Habanera, but since Diana is from Santiago de Cuba, and since many dancers don’t know that Habanero (Cuban right turn on 5-6-7) is the twin sister to Vacilala (right turn on 1-2-3), I have changed Habanera to Cubana.

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