Cuban Salsa: Walk Around Turn – Cuban Vuelta
If we need a stationary or semi-stationary turn, we have a good alternative to the classic Salsa Vuelta right turn with back-rocking and hand prepping on “1-2-3”, and turn on “5-6-7”. We should use the Cuban Vuelta, a very similar walk-around look-a-like turn.
For the Cuban Vuelta, the Follow steps forward on “1” and walks around in a more or less tight snail-house spiral, on “2-3” or “2-3-5” and continues forward for the rest of the 8-count. The exact length and number of steps for the turning and for the walking part can vary.
In the Cuban Vuelta the turn is in the first half of the 8-count. For the last half of the 8-count, the Follow can step more or less in place with short steps creating a stationary turn, or she can walk forward with normal or long steps creating a semi-traveling turn.
In Cuban Salsa we should never use the classic Salsa Vuelta from American Salsa on “1”, LA style. The Salsa Vuelta is a stationary turn, the Follow is led into back-rocking on “1”, the Lead preps the turn by lifting the arm and hand on “2-3”, and the Follow is led to turn on the spot on “5-6-7”.
We should not lead the Follow into back-steps for a simple reason: It makes back-step legitimate, and the Follow suddenly back-steps by herself in many situations like for Dile Que No and at the start, and at the half-way position of basic figures like Enchufla and Exhibela.
The problem with back-steps on “1” and on “5” is that it brings the the dance to a halt, making the Follow loose two steps for nothing. First the Follow steps back, next the Follow steps forward again, but this forward step only brings her back to start, she has not yet moved forward.
It is only when an object is moving forward we can change its direct. Just like a stationary ship losses its steering. The more the Follow steps forward, the easier it is for the Lead to lead and position her.
Don’t clip the wings
Cuban Salsa with back-steps is like a bird with clipped wings. We can still do fantastic dancing but is becomes back-rocking Cuban Salsa LA style. If that is what you want, good for you. I prefer the forward walking uniquely Cuban Salsa style. Uniquely Cuban because only Cuban Salsa makes it possible.
As long as the Follow steps forward and has three forward steps available in both halves of the 8-count, the Lead can make her turn left or right with traveling Three Step Turns at any time during the dance, and the Lead has more options and time for positioning the Follow in order to create dynamic walking flows with a lot of momentum.
Traveling by default
The other reason why we shouldn’t use the classic Salsa Vuelta in Cuban Salsa is, that it is stationary. In general, in Cuban Salsa, all turns should be traveling by default. In certain situations we might need a stationary turn, as the best in the situation, or a certain combination of figures requires it, or maybe as a contrast to too much traveling or out of necessity: Not enough room for a traveling turn, a sudden change in the music, or when starting the turn with-in closed position, or when dancing with a complete beginner, etc.
As a general rule of thumb: Never ever start a stationary turn by choice in a situation where you could just as well have started a traveling turn. Traveling turns should be the default in Cuban Salsa making it much easier for the Follow to be ready for it.
Whenever a Follow has to think about stepping forward or backward, or if the turn is traveling or stationary, she easily looses a split second, making a perfect turn much less likely. That is the reason why forward stepping and traveling turns should be the default in Cuban Salsa.
From an “always forward” Lead’s perspective, it makes a huge difference if forward steps and traveling turns are the default or not. The Lead has a wrong focus and looses a lot of energy, if he always has to lead the Follow forward and to prepare her properly for traveling turns.
When these features are the natural behaviour of the Follow, the Lead can focus on more important things like creativity, connection, positioning, keeping the flow alive.