leading spins .... what is right

I am confused, I have been taught that to lead a spin, I have to bring my hand two inches above ladies head/forehead and use my fingers to suggest the spin. I have seen several videos of known names in salsa that bring that hand up and rather that being static in top of the girl, the hand makes a pretty wide circle.

what is the correct technique ?, or are there times in which making a circle or moving your hand around the girl is actually called for
The first one is the correct one. The larger the circle, the more you will either throw me off balance or hurt my arm. Moreso, the smaller the circle, I should the think, the more control the lead has, right?
Both are workable. In the first, the movement comes from your wrist turning. This basically causes your fingers to follow the path of a funnel which makes it difficult for some ladies to hold on to since they have to constantly change the orientation of their fingers. It can also be stressful on you once you're spinning them in multiples of 3, 4, 5 or more unless you're dancing with the lightest ladies.

Many ladies - and I when I spin them - prefer the second one. With this technique, you're actually drawing a small (not wide) halo around the lady's head. The movement comes mostly from the shoulder, with maybe some small compensatory movement in the elbow, minimal involvement of the wrist.

This means that your fingers (the ones the lady holds on to) are pointed constantly straight down. This means easier to for the lady to hold since she doesn't have to concentrate on maintaining contact. Also it's less stressful on your wrists with multiple spins because your shoulder does the work, and you can lend more support to your partner.

Ultimately there's no right or wrong. Experiment with both. I'd say though, that using a large or wide circle is definitely not correct. The lady is constantly subjected to changes in forces that she'll have to compensate for in order to stay in balance. And as peachexploration suggested, there's also a danger you'll hurt the lady's arm.


Staff member
As I mentioned over on DF, the key here is to keep it small no matter what style you subscribe to. Simple physics suggests that as close a match as you can achieve between the signal being provided and the actual axis of rotation the better! [/i]
Another benefit of a small circle is a better connection. It allows the lady to get a better sense of where her partner is, while she's turning. Also, for the guy, it helps me keep track of her balance, so I know if we can go for more spins, launch into another move, or slow it down so she can gather herself together. The small spin circle is also a way to lead girls into taking smaller steps. My spin circle gets really small and focused when I'm with a girl who likes to take gigantor steps when turning.
Personally, I've modified my technique in the past years because leading from he wrist just wasn't cutting it for stage dancing. While I agree that a tighter loop above the follow's head is best, I no longer subscribe to the wrist lead and I now do a one finger lead and keep my palm pretty much facing down the whole time. Works like a charm!
I should add to the above comment by stating that I specifically changed to focus on more speed for the stage. Mind you it works great socially as well but that's what started me on the path for another, better way.
Actually, both are correct. The difference is the cue starts on different counts. Let's assume dancing on 1 and you want to turn her clockwise using your left hand and her right arm. This is probably the most std turn.

If you are dancing with a woman and you have your left hand up in std position. On the first bit bring her right hand down and swing a bit to where you you want to turn her (without turning her). On the second bit bring it back up and turn her on 5. This is good for inexperienced dancers. You are starting the turn two moves ahead. If gives her time to prepare.

Experienced dancers just do the step of bits 2 and 3. Or just 5. The thing is schools are all over the map on this.

On cross body lead you do very similar. On bit one, bring hand down (no swing) while bringing your chest close to her. On bit 2 separate your chest and bring the hand to normal position. on bit 3 open up for the cross body lead. Again you are leading a move 2 moves ahead. But same as above, it could be lead with less moves.

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