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In the most recent video in this series – TPF006: Spinning in Place, I discussed the mechanics of spinning in place.

Spinning in place is a fairly simple skill, once you understand the concepts and begin integrating them.

Travelling is simple, too, but a lot more goes into it that most people don’t know about.

This video is all about a great set of techniques not just for a good but a seriously great travelling spin.


In the video I cover:

-Your frame

-How your frame works in a travelling spin

-Where to spot in a travelling spin

-How to spot and why it’s crucial in ways most people don’t think

-What to do with your feet, knees, hips, glutes, back, chest, arms, and head in a travelling spin

-What it means to spin “in a plane”

-How to make this movement happen

And of course – I close with the reminder that this is just one set of techniques among many. It may not  be the best for you. But it’s a great starting place and I know for sure that it works wonders for me and many others.

Let me know what you think or if you have questions!




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Image: “The Spinning Dancer” by Leonid Afremov


An elusive skill.

Something mysterious, even.

Instructors in beginning classes will often say – ‘and then the follower turns.’

Um, no.

There’s a lot more to it than that, right?

There is. And the thing is – it’s not rocket science. Spinning well in place is actually a fairly simple, straightforward act.

All you have to do is know the basics of how it works, practice the motions untill they become habit, and you are golden, it’s smooth sailing from there on out.

In today’s video, I describe my own personal technique for how to spin in place. There are of course many different ways to think of and to describe spinning, but I personally find these techniques to work very well. They come not just from years of salsa but literal decades of dance training. That’s not to say they are foolproof and will work best for everybody, but they do do the job for me.


In the  video, I discuss:

-prepping for a spin in salsa (when given a “j” lead),

-foot technique,

-core technique,

-frame technique, and


I also include a short clip at the end that shows me first doing some travelling spins and then ending in place… where the alignment of my body and spotting are very obvious components of my ability to follow that lead.

Let me know what you think or if you have questions. I know this may seem easier said than done, but all it takes is a bit of thinking and a a regular dose of loving practice. 🙂

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Today’s video builds upon what we covered in video 001: frame basics.



First I recap what we learned from that video, then I discuss what it means to have complete physical connection. Whatever points of connection your leader gives you, you should meet as well as possible, whether it’s between your hands, over your leaders arms and shoulders, or anywhere else.

Second, I discuss “no leaks” connection. This means having a frame that is completely connected from the point of your leaders body to your center, to your entire body. This should run from the leaders body, to your fingers, through your forearm, under your triceps, into your lats, and then into your back and torso. This enables your upper body to be connected to your whole body, so you can move properly when and how your leader wants you to leave. You have to figure out how this works in different movements while you are dancing.

Third, I discuss specifically keeping your shoulders down and keeping your lats engaged to make sure you are well connected and have no leaks.

Fourth, I discuss the concepts of compression and extension. These ideas come from the American swing dances, where there is a lot of elasticity in the connection, and the leader and follower are always counter-balancing off of each other. In the Latin dance we do not have that. What we have is neutrality. Our hands are physically connected but not acting on each other, in this neutral state. We activate when the leader initiates a movement .Then compression or extension happens – then your leader will push on you or will pull on you.

Fifth, I explain this concept in terms of very simple math. When your leader pulls you, for example, with the strength of, say, 10. If you pull back with 12 you will over power your lead and you will both go backwards. That is bad. If you pull back with a 10 you stay still. If you pull back with an 8 you will follow your leader but will be super heavy. If you pull back just the tiniest amount, enough to hang on to your frame, so a 1 or perhaps a 2, your leader will be able to move you and you will be able to maintain the integrity of your frame. The same works for compression.

Sixth, I explain how this works for leading and following spins.

Seventh, I explain that high level leaders really enjoy that if they change the amount of pressure or tension or activation that they give you, that you change your response to be properly calibrated to theirs. Give and receive and spin such that you don’t overpower your leader but rather meet them with the exact level of strength that they are asking for.

That concludes the list for advanced tips and theory! Please let me know in the comments here or on youtube if you have any questions!!

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One of the most important tools in any followers toolkit is spotting!

Spotting is like a super jedi head trick that advanced dancers use well in order to help keep them balanced, keep them getting dizzy, and knock out some kickass turns.

But you don’t have to be advanced to do it – all you need to do is know how it works, then start practicing!


Here’s what I cover in the video:

  1. What is spotting

Spotting is keeping your head focused in one place – looking directly at your leader, for example – while spinning for as long as possible, then whipping it around to face the same direction again all in one motion. Your head stays almost entirely in one spot while spinning – except for during one moment in which you whip it around to stay forward.

  1. How to spot

I show you how spotting works in slow time. Keep your eyes straight ahead, and start rotating your body. Keep looking in the same place, with your head facing in that direction, for as long as possible while your body rotates. When your body is facing the back wall now, whip your head around 360 degrees so that you are looking front now, but from over the other shoulder. Then continue rotating your body so that it comes under your head. And do it again.

  1. How to practice

Practice spotting slowly, then more quickly, and often. Do it on your own, and then you can begin integrating it into your dance.

And that’s it! Spotting is integrating into a whole host of other important turning techniques in the videos 006: spinning in place, and 007: travelling turns.

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