Knowing how to make good dance turns is absolutely essential for anyone looking to find more willing dance partners – ask almost any woman what they like most when dancing, and they’ll say: “spinning!” After all, who doesn’t love an exhilarating travel turn, or a back spot turn locked in your partners embrace?

Most dancers practice by whipping their body around repeatedly without thought to the process, finally rejoicing when they nail it after the 100th time. Sound familiar? The problem is, this doesn’t teach consistency – you just got lucky, and reinforced some bad habits in the process. So, how can you raise your game?

Before you even start practicing dance turns, make sure you can step straight onto one foot and balance there for a moment. After all, if you can stay balanced on one foot, are are you supposed to turn on it?

Imagine a line drawn down the centre of your head, separating you into right and left sides. In order for any turn to be possible, one side MUST turn faster than the other. We can think of our bodies moving like a door, where the axis we turn around represents the hinge, and the opposite side of our body the moving part of the door.

In ballroom, dance turns start by rotating our base (hips and below).  For instance, if you want to turn to your left and you’re stepping with your left foot, let the foot begin the turn. That is, turn your foot slightly leftwards as you lead into the turn, before allowing your body to rotate. Here’s what it looks like in action:

Since ballroom dancers don’t have to be en pointe, we can stay on the ball (the big meaty area on the front of the foot), of the foot. Since the weight is centred over the foot that is connected to the floor, she can turn without tipping over.

Try this: take a forward step onto the ball with your left foot, turning the foot outwards. As you do, use your leg and hip muscles to turn a very small amount to your left – say, a quarter turn. Then see if you can stop and can stay balanced on the left (lift the right foot to be sure). If you can pull it off 5 times in a row, increase it to a half turn and repeat. And remember to practice right turns with the right foot as well.

Keep gradually increasing the increments in both directions as you build up your balance, be patient with yourself, and remember the goal: nailing those effortless turns and spins that feel great and look awesome. Go to!