Arm Turns – Definition

Teaching Resource for ARM TURNS

Links:   Standard Analyze Module Teach Other Extend

CALLERLAB Program: Basic Part 1
Teaching Order: After Allemande Left and before Right and Left Grand Family
Recently Taught Calls: Dosado, Swing, Promenade

Background: Arm Turns with various hand, elbow, or arm grips probably date back to simple circle dances on village greens. Arm Turns are an essential part of many traditional square dances and most contra dances. In modern square dancing they are most frequently used in singing call break figures where the amount of turn is determined by the next call. It is possible to designate a specific fraction for the Arm Turn. Once dancers have learned Hinge, Trade and Cast Off 3/4, those calls usually replace arm turns.


Minimum number of dancers needed: Two

Starting formations for the minimum number needed: Facing Dancers, Mini-Wave

Command examples:
— Left Arm Turn 3/4
— Walk Around Your Corner; Turn Partner by the Left; 4 Ladies Chain
— Slip the Clutch; Turn by the Left 3/4, Check an Alamo Ring
— All Arm Turn Half
— Centers Arm Turn 3/4
— Men Star Left 3/4; Turn Corner Right Arm Turn; Do Paso
— Allemande Left, Turn partner by the right once around; Men Star Left 1/2, turn opposite by the right 3/4 to an alamo ring, …
— Turn a Right Hand Half
— Alamo Ring: Swing Thru; Turn Your Partner by the Right; Allemande Left

Dance action: Dancers join indicated forearms and walk forward around each other. The amount of turn can be specified as a fraction (e.g., Half (180 degrees), 3/4 (270 degrees), Full (360 degrees) or implicitly by the next call (e.g., Turn Partner By the Left; 4 Ladies Chain).

Ending formation: Usually a Mini-wave, or no formation as the dancers prepare to let go of the arm turn and step forward to do the next call.

Timing: 1/2: 4, 3/4: 4 to 6, Full: 6 to 8

Styling: Forearm hold

Comments: From a Mini-Wave the distance to turn may be specified by a fraction (e.g., Arm Turn 1/2).
From Facing Dancers the distance to turn must be specified by a relative position (e.g., To A Thar, or To Your Corner) or the next call (e.g., Turn Corner By The Right; Do Paso). It is improper to specify a fraction.

The Mini-Wave formation does not imply a specific handhold. The styling for Arm Turns and calls defined with Arm Turns is a Forearm hold. See the section “Dance action: Defining Calls with Arm Turns”.

Facing Couple or Ocean Wave Rule: Arm Turns are defined to begin from either Facing Dancers or a Mini-Wave.

Link to Taminations: Taminations Arm Turns