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American Rumba – Alternating Underarm Turns

Learn how to dance the Alternating Underarm Turns in American Rumba.

How to dance the Alternating Underarm Turn in American Rumba

Timing

Rumba is counted slow, quick, quick and this equals one measure. The alternating underarm turn takes 3 measures to complete.

Phrasing

Phrasing involves matching your step patterns to the music. The Alternating underarm turn is a component step that takes 3 measures. To appropriately phrase it to music you will want to create a series of patterns that when grouped together they fit within 4 measures or 8 measures of music.

Leader’s Footwork:

To phrase this step to music we will initiate the pattern with a forward half of box to an open break and then lead the first underarm turn.

Forward half of box:

Starting in closed dance position – Left foot forward, Right foot to the side and then close the left foot to the right foot and change weight. (slow, quick, quick)

Open break:

Right foot to the side, Left foot back rock and replace weight forward back onto Right foot. As you take your left foot back you will release your partner and change to open dance position.

To lead this you will give pressure through your left hand to push the lady away into the open break position. (slow, quick, quick)

Underarm Turn Right for Follower:

Left foot to the side, Right foot back and across in 5th position for rocking action and replacing weight to Left foot. (slow, quick, quick)

To lead the underarm turn, as you take your right foot back and across for the rocking action you will raise your left hand signaling the underarm turn for the follower.

To help with this turn instead of keeping your body square to the lady allow your body to open up to the right. This will help the step feel more natural.

Underarm Turn Right for Leader:

Right foot side. At this point you will raise your right hand to create the space for you to turn.

As you stand on your right foot you are going to take left foot forward and across take the step and then turn to the right half a turn on the left foot.

Take right foot forward, stepping first and then pivoting right to face your partner. (slow, quick, quick)

Underarm Turn Right for Follower:

To continue with the alternating turns you will lead another underarm turn for the follower.

Left foot to the side, Right foot back and across in 5th position for rocking action and replacing weight to Left foot. (slow, quick, quick)

Make sure you raise your left hand to signaling the underarm turn for the follower.

Finish out the phrasing:

Currently as it stands this pattern is 5 measures. To reach 8 measures to finish out the phrasing for music you can add a 5th position break (1 measure) and rumba box (2 measures).

 Timing: slow, quick, quick for 8 measures

Follower’s Footwork:

Back half of box:

Starting in closed dance position – Right foot back, Left foot to the side and then close the right foot to the left foot and change weight. (slow, quick, quick)

Open break:

Left foot to the side, right foot back rock and replace weight forward back onto left foot. You will feel your leader give you pressure through your right hand and drop the frame to move to open dance position. (slow, quick, quick)

Underarm Turn Right for Follower:

Right foot side. The leader will raise your right hand signaling a turn.

As you stand on your right foot you are going to take left foot forward and across take the step and then turn to the right half a turn on the left foot.

Take right foot forward, stepping first and then pivoting right to face your partner. (slow, quick, quick)

Underarm Turn Right for Leader

Left foot to the side, Right foot back and across in 5th position for rocking action and replacing weight to Left foot. (slow, quick, quick)

The leader will raise your left hand, but instead of you turning the leader will turn under the arms.

Underarm Turn Right for Follower:

To get the alternating underarm turn effect for this pattern you will be lead in another underarm turn.

Right foot side. The leader will raise your right hand signaling a turn.

As you stand on your right foot you are going to take left foot forward and across take the step and then turn to the right half a turn on the left foot.

Take right foot forward, stepping first and then pivoting right to face your partner. (slow, quick, quick)

 Finish out the phrasing:

To finish out the phrasing of this step pattern a suggested combination is to end with a 5th position break and rumba box.

Timing: slow, quick, quick for 8 measures

Rumba Technique

Spiral turn and Pivot turns

The underarm turn utilizes both a spiral turn and pivot turn. 

  • Spiral turn: This turn occurs when you are turning in the opposite direction of the foot you are standing on. For example a left spiral turn occurs when you are standing on your right foot and you turn to the left. The first turning step of the underarm turn is considered a spiral turn. 
  • Pivot Turn: This turn occurs when you are turning in the same direction as the foot your are standing on. For example with a left pivot turn you are standing on your left foot and you turn to the left. The second turning step of the underarm turn is a pivot turn.

Collecting your feet with a Brush Pivot

When turning and pivoting on your foot you want to make sure that you brush your feet. This is another way of saying that you want to collect your feet as you pivot and turn. This will help you to stay ground and sharp with your turn.

Check out the video below to learn more about the brush pivot.

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