Cuban Salsa: Three Step Pirouette Turn

The Three Step Pirouette Turn is not a professional turn technique like Three Step Chaîné and Three Step Pivot but it is an excellent all-round turn technique for social dancing, a social turn. A Pirouette Turn is to turn on one foot, 360 degree for a full pirouette or 180 degree for a half pirouette as in the Three Step Pirouette Turn.

For a Three Step Pirouette Right Turn, the Follow steps forward on “1” or “3”, next the Follow turns around on the same foot and step “2” or step “4” end up beside the first step giving us the first 180 degree, that is a half pirouette turn. On the next step, “3” or “6”, the Follow turns around and steps forward adding another 180 degree.

Video #1 features me and Mona at Practica Training Sessions, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2022.

Same video on YouTube

In most latin dances, right turns start on “1” and “5”. In Cuban Salsa we should most often start on “3” instead of on “5” because in order to get into a good flow, the Follow needs to keep step “7” free for positioning on a curved line.

The Three Step Pirouette Turn has the same versatility as the two professional turn techniques. They work well for right turns starting on “1” and “3” as well as for left turns starting on “2”, “5”. The turn could also start at the other steps but that is rare and more difficult. They work equally well for hand-held and hand free turns.

All three Three Step Turns are also easy to downgrade. If the Follow does not manage to complete a full 360 degree turn with three steps, she can add a forth step and we get a Four Step Turn, probably the most common in social dancing. A Four Step Turn can be handy on a bad dance floor, if the Follow needs to protect knees and feet, or if a smooth, relaxed look is what we want in the situation. All Three Step Turns are good for making double turns.

The Three Step Pirouette turn has a couple of more features making it second to none when it comes to both versatility and inclusiveness:

  1. Since the second step is besides the first, the Three Step Pirouette Turn starts “short” and can easily be made into a stationary turn with little or no travelling.
  2. The Three Step Pirouette Turn starts with a half Pirouette of 180 degree but if the Follow does a full pirouette instead (360 degrees), she can transform the Three Step Turn into a Two Step Turn.
  3. Since the Three Step Pirouette Turn and the Three Step Pivot Turn are very similar, for the Pirouette the Follow’s second step is besides the first, for the Pivot it is in front of the first on the same line, The Three Step Pirouette Turn can easily be upgraded to a Three Step Pivot Turn.
  4. The biggest advantage of the The Three Step Pirouette Turn is that it is very “inclusive”: easy to learn, easy to remember and use, it feels natural, it is very stable, and it is soft on knees and feet.

The only argument for using Three Step Pivot and Three Step Chaîné Turns is that they a more elegant, they are the professional turn techniques also used in other dance styles. I use them most of the time when I dance as a Follow, but I also use Three Step Pirouette as a backup turn when needed, as a Plan B, and even as the preferred turn technique in some situations.

The Three Step Pirouette Turn should be promoted as the basic way to turn in Cuban Salsa.

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