Turning Tricks and Tips!

October 17, 2014 by
Filed Under: Blog, Dancing Tips

This article is to provide helpful hints for our dance lessons students in our Orange County dance studios and beyond! We hope these tips are useful and help to bring your ballroom dancing to the next level! 

Turning Tricks and Tips!

One of the reasons why dance is so fun to do and so exciting to watch is because of its multidirectional quality. Spins and turns make up some of the foundational elements of dancing. They can be used artistically to visually accent a change in the music, to evoke a mood, or even to inspire the feeling of flight. They can also be used functionally to better utilize a dance space or to change directions on the dance floor. While turns are extremely fun, they can also be challenging and dizzying for the new dancer. Below find some tips and tricks on twirling!


Find Your Center

Having good balance is essential to completing clean turns and spins. Engaging the core and implementing strong posture are keys in staying centered.   To find your most vertical posture, stand with you back and head against a wall. When you walk away from the wall keep your ears over your shoulders, and your shoulders over your hips. Keep your chin level with the floor and don’t allow yourself to hunch. Lengthen by imagining reaching the top of your head toward the ceiling. Practice “walking tall” throughout your day to strengthen and get used to engaging the muscles needed to have a good posture.


Spotting is a technique that dancers use to help them stay balanced and on track while doing spins and turns. To “spot” a dancer focuses on a particular point that’s in the direction of their turn. This point could be a fixed part of the surrounding room or could be the dancer’s partner. The spinner keeps their eyes on this fixed spot as long as they can by delaying their head’s rotation. When their body has rotated so much that it is no longer physically possible to keep their eyes on this spot, the dancer quickly snaps their head around at the last possible moment to refocus their eyes upon the spot.

Waltz and salsa dancing turns and spins

Spins and Turns in Salsa, Waltz, Swing and more!

If you’re new to spotting, you can safely practice this technique on your own. Stand in one place and pick a spot in the room to focuson. Slowly shuffle or walk in place with your feet right underneath you so that your body starts rotating. As described above, delay the rotation in your head so that your eyes stay on this spot until the last possible moment. Turn your head quickly to match the rotation of your body and to refocus your eyes on this spot. Keep your head level and your core engaged. Practice in both directions. When you feel confident, you can speed up your rotations. Next try using adding this technique to the turns or dance patterns with spins that you already know. Don’t know any turns? Ask your trusted Bella Ballroom instructor for help! J

Feet are Foundational

Wear proper dance shoes when spinning or turning. Rubber soled shoes and socks are accidents waiting to happen and not knee or ankle joint friendly!



Keep a strong frame to help your follow stay steady. For underarm turns, lift your arm 1 to 2 inches above the follows head and use at least three fingers to direct the spin.  When finishing a turn or multiple spins, gently squeeze her hand and bring her arm down when she’s almost facing you. Don’t pull the follows arm back toward you to stop the turn.

Lead direction before rotation. If you’re leading a traveling turn, lead your partner in the direction of their travel before leading them to spin. If the spin is a spot turn or stationary, lead your follow to stay in place before leading the spin.

Lead on time. If a turn is led prematurely, chances are the follows feet will not be in the correct place to make the turn possible. Allow your follow enough time to prepare her feet to turn.

If leading multiple spins, it’s usually preferred to start spinning your partner slowly and gradually speed up as she can handle it. If you lead several quick spins in a row, support your follow as she comes out of the twirling madness. Consider giving her a less intense move following the spins so that she un-dizzy herself if needed.


Practice your spins on your own so that you can do them without the assistance of a partner. A lead can make you spin more than you would by yourself or assist you in turning faster. A lead should not have to completely facilitate you turning. You want to be able to balance and turn on your own so that you can follow with ease in a social dancing context. Also, if you’re going to dance in heels, practice turning in them!

Keep a strong frame when your partner spins you. When being led through an underarm turn, keep the arm that you’re being turned with at a 90-degree angle with the elbow facing down. Do not extend your arm or allow your arm to be pulled behind you. Your body should rotate versus your arm being pulled out of the socket!

If you’re being led through a spot turn, stay in place and don’t drift away from your partner. This will help you to stay balanced and connected to your partner and also prevent you from running into surrounding couples. Use your partner as the “spot” to focus your eyes on, finishing your turn facing your lead.

Have fun and good luck!

-Article by Bella Ballroom instructor, Ziva. Get your spin on and learn to twirl with Ziva at Bella Ballroom, the top Orange County Dance Studios.