The Alemana in Rumba

Published on by CMe




The Alemana in Rumba


Music must be swallowed by movement.

The Alemana is a two-measure latin figure. Sometimes it is cued Half Basic to an Alemana Turn. In the photo, he is at the end of the first measure of the figure and is beginning to invite her to turn. Note the use of body sway and the potential here for a pretty mini-picture.

In closed or in some other facing position, the man steps forward on his lead foot (woman back). In Rumba, we recover, and then the man closes his left foot and initiates the woman's right-face turn by raising his lead hand. He doesn't push her under—this is just an invitation, a suggestion. The woman takes her third step as a small side, toeing out a little and begining her right-face turn. This first measure is essentially a Half Basic, although note the third closing step for the man rather than a side step and the initiation of the turn for the woman.

In the second measure, he steps back on his trail foot as she steps forward and turns under his lead arm. He recovers left as she steps forward and continues to turn to face him again, and then both step side with the trail feet in left open facing position.

The Alemana Turn is not a twirl; she doesn't spin but walks forward turning, forward turning, and side.

One can't help wondering why there is an Underarm Turn and an Alemana Turn in Rumba. Annette Woodruff once pointed out that the Underarm Turn is simpler and has less emotional content. In an Alemana Turn, the woman steps forward, toward her man's left side. She does not cross in front and so take that first step of the turn away from him. Briefly, she is nose to nose and gazing deeply into his eyes. Then at the last moment she turns away in a sharp spiraling sort of movement. It is flirtatious. She is toying with him. For her second step of the turn, she steps forward and away on her right foot, and her man comes after her with his recover step. Again, at the last moment during the second "quick," she turns sharply with a hip-twist motion to face him again, and they step side together. As Annette says—Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy gets girl again.

Often, an Alemana is done from a fan position. Here, the woman closes her right foot, steps forward L, forward R/L, R beginning to turn to the right. Meanwhile, the man has raised his lead arm, leading the Alemana Turn as usual.

Alemana Surprise Check
Let's look at two, more advanced figures that feature the Alemana Turn. The Alemana Surprise Check is an Alemana done in handshake position and with two sharp swivels inserted in the second measure.

In a right-right-handshake facing position, the man perhaps facing the wall, he steps forward L (woman back R), recovers R, and closes L to R raising right hands. The woman's third step is forward R turning toe toward line and center. So far, this is a normal preparation for an Alemana Turn, although the handshake feels different.

The second measure begins normally, too. The man steps back R (woman fwd L DLC turning 1/2 RF under joined hands). On the second beat, he recovers L (woman fwd R turning), and on the "and" count he draws his R to L and swivels 1/8 to the left bringing joined right hands thru at chest level (woman draws L to R and swivels 1/8 to the right). He is facing diagonal wall, and she is facing diagonal center. On the third beat, he swivels 3/8 to the right and closes R to L (woman swivels 3/8 LF and closes L to R). Both hold the fourth beat facing reverse line of dance with left arms extended toward wall, man's behind woman's back. Lead feet are free.

I think the amount of swivel varies. The idea is to complete the Alemana Turn and then rather sharply bring the joined hands thru to line leading a swivel toward line and then quickly bring the joined hands back thru to reverse leading a swivel toward reverse. I also think that we dance this a little more gently on the beat, rather than on the half beat. I step back, recover, swivel left, and swivel right closing with an even tempo, qqqq; (but it's still a surprise for her).

Three Alemanas
Three Alemanas is phased VI and does take some practice to do comfortably. This figure can begin in closed position, butterfly, left open facing, or from a fan position, just as the Alemana can. The first measure is the same as that of an Alemana. It is our Half Basic with a closing step and raised lead hand for him and the commenced turn for her.

In the second measure, the man steps back R and with the raised lead hand invites her to step forward L toward line and center for a sharp spiral 1/2. She steps forward R toward reverse and wall and turns to face the man, and he steps forward and a bit to the left, so that when she steps forward L on her third step of this measure and the man closes, she will be on the man's right side. On the last beat of this measure, the man rather sharply lowers his lead hand and so leads a spiral of up to 1/2 turn so that both he and she are facing the wall, and she is in a partially wrapped position with her lead arm across in front of her body. Her total turn is about 1 1/2. Note that these steps are straight forward steps, tracing a triangle on the floor. Don't round this part of the figure into a circle—make the turns sharp.

On beat 9, the man steps side L and guides the woman to step forward and across toward line and wall. This moves her from his right side to a position in front of him again. He raises the lead arm to lead her to spiral LF about 7/8 so she is facing wall. He then recovers R and leads her forward L and turn 1/2 to face him. He closes, and she steps forward to the man, toeing out, ready to begin the third Alemana Turn. The man has his lead hand up, providing a firm backboard to lead her turn. Her total turn is again about 1 1/2.

The fourth measure is a standard Alemana Turn. He steps back on his right, recovers on his left, and closes on the "slow" count; and she turns under his lead hand RF fwd L/turn, fwd R/turn, and fwd L on the "slow." This third turn is only one full turn.

There are two features that make this a truly phase VI figure. First is the "overturning" of the first two Alemana Turns. She dances her first Alemana Turn and then sharply overturns it another 1/2 turn to face wall. Having made this extra turn, she must begin the third measure with a sharp 7/8 LF spiral to face wall, then forward to the wall and turn 1/2 LF to face the man, and finally forward to the man. The second sophisticated feature is that the three alemana turns are danced directly in front of the man, with very little movement either to line or to reverse. She dances the first turn to the man's left side, but then steps to the wall and then back to the man. The second turn begins with a strong spiral in front of the man, a step away from the man, and then a step back toward him. The third turn is similarly danced between the man and the wall with no progression.

You can soften this figure considerably by dancing it as a Half Basic, Underarm Turn, Reverse Underarm Turn, and Underarm Turn. These are phase III figures (and so not Three Alemanas).

Lady's Footwork of an Alemana Turn
The alemana is one of the most popular techniques ever utilized in Latin dancing, and can be seen with its full power in the slow dance of Rumba. Although it can also be done in Salsa and Cha Cha, the speed of the respective dances often restricts the amount of technique that can be utilized. Below is an explanation of the specific footwork required on the part of the lady for the alemana turn.
  1. Begin with your weight over your right foot and left foot pointed to the side. Step across with your left foot in a diagonal 45 degrees to the right from facing. Here this can be a delayed walk or a forward walk, depending on whether you want to turn on a ball or on the whole foot.
  2. Once full weight is over the left foot, turn a half of a turn over your left. Your right should be pointed in front of you and weight fully over your left foot at this point.
  3. Perform a forward walk to arrive over your right foot with full weight.
  4. Turn one half of a turn to collect your feet and face the same way you were facing when you started.
  5. Step to the left with your left foot and arrive with full weight over it. You should now have right foot free and pointed to your right.

Man's Part of an Alemana
The alemana is a very popular basic technique utilized in International Latin dancing and can be seen in the Rhumba and Cha Cha, with most frequency being exhibited in the former. Overall it is a necessary step in learning to dance Latin, and can be a pleasurable and fulfilling basic pattern in any social or competitive venue. The instructions below will focus on the man's footwork for the alemana turn in Rhumba.

  1. Start with weight over your left foot and your right foot is pointed to your right side.
  2. On beat "2," place your right foot in a diagonal behind you.
  3. On beat "3," recover to your left foot. Your weight should be full on your left foot here, as if in a forward walk.
  4. Quickly, collect your feet on beat "and" immediately following beat "3." You should now be facing forward again.
  5. On beat "4," step to your right and place full weight over your right foot. Left foot should end in a point and straight.

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