In Nia there are 52 Moves that run through the Nia Routines. One move that we do quite often is not on the list of 52 moves. I call it a four-point turn because we take four steps to do it. In one of the routines I recently learned the instructor calls it an Aikido turn. Since Nia borrows moves and ideas from Aikido and associates Aikido with circular, spiral, and spherical motion, it makes sense this turn would be called an Aikido turn. As with many dance exercises the moves can sometimes be done fast or slow depending upon the music. Sometimes in a Nia routine we can do the same move at different speeds. With the four-point – which is four step – or Aikido turn – the best way to accomplish it is by starting with the first step being a “toes out” type of step. Point the foot out, away from the body in the direction you want to turn. Allow the entire thigh to turn out. Whether you are going to do a fast or slow turn, this first step is key in making it all the way around. Another key is to LOOK! Look the direction you want to turn. Also helpful is hands and arms. Allow your hand to follow after the eyes. The order would be eyes/head, hand/arm, foot/leg. While this is one arrangement of the order, sometimes your arms might actually be doing something else and that is fine too. It could be that the hands and arms lead, but whatever the case your eyes can be a part of the turn. Nia is a dance workout so sometimes we might have our arms dancing in another way to the music.
For a beginner learning the turn, I would make the previously mentioned suggestion of the order. Eyes/head, hand/arm, foot/leg. The thigh bone/foot turned out. Then step on that “toes out” foot, weighting it 100%, as you step all your weight on it your body will turn in the direction you want to go. Your free leg can be swung around to what seems like in front of your “toes out” foot, but by the time you step onto it, it will end up being besides the toes out foot because you will put all your weight into your second step and take the weight off the “toes out” foot so for a moment they will be side-by-side. Then you will swing your free leg behind to land about in line with the heel of your weighted foot. You will weight the foot that just was swung, and turn the other foot to parallel . . . making that the fourth point or step.
Maybe left and right indications will work better for you: The order: Turn your head/eyes to the left , allow your hand/arm to follow. Move your LEFT FOOT to “toes out” turning your left thigh bone to the left. Then step on your LEFT FOOT in a “toes out” position, put your weight on it 100%. As you are stepping all your weight on your LEFT FOOT, allow your body to turn to the left, in the direction you want to go. Swing your RIGHT LEG (free leg) around to what seems like in front of your LEFT FOOT. Step onto your RIGHT FOOT, toes pointing to the back of the room (or what started off as the back of the room), take the weight off the LEFT FOOT (“toes out” foot). Swing your LEFT FOOT (free leg) behind to land about in line with the heel of your RIGHT FOOT (weighted foot). You will stand on the LEFT FOOT, and turn the RIGHT FOOT to parallel . . . making that the fourth point or step.
Right to left works the same but start with your right foot.
To me, it is actually easier to do it fast than slow. But either way the hips get great rotation in the sockets. I was taught that we do not slide on our feet or spin on our feet. We dance barefoot so it is very different than if you have dance shoes on. There is not a nice layer of material that allows for easy sliding and spinning. We pick up our feet so as not to get blisters and to better condition the feet and the legs. So when we turn we are not spinning on the balls of our feet. That is one reason why I call it a four-point turn because we are hitting “points” in our dance. Points, steps, either way it is not a spin on the foot. This is another reason why it is important to start the turn with the toes already turned out because we also always want to be gentle on our knees. Also in Nia we are always reminded to remember our own body’s way. It is more important to protect and love our knees than it is to make it all they way around when doing a turn!
This is a pretty common dance move in dance exercise classes, but it is not always easy and can present a challenge. I believe it becomes particularly challenging when the person doing it wants to keep their eyes on the instructor. The best way to do it is to allow the eyes to move with the turn.
This is also a very fun move because you never know what we are going to do at either end (after the 4th step). Now that you got the turn down come to a Nia class and see what could be waiting at the end! You got the turn down, right?