Natural Turn, Half Natural Turn,
Open Natural Turn
by Mickey & Brent Moore
When dancing foxtrot we hear these terms used frequently to indicate
some type of turn to the right, but what are the differences in these
cue terms, and how do you determine what to execute? This is a dilemma
in that there seems to be several interpretations and, as a movement,
we have not as yet clearly settled the issue. We have a definite
opinion of how the terms should be resolved based on the information in
both Alex Moore's and Guy Howard's books and on discussions that we had
with Eddie Palmquist years ago.
The terms natural turn and half natural turn should be considered as
synonymous and end in closed position. Using the term half natural
seems to be borrowed more from a ballroom technique approach in that we
never use a full natural turn in round dancing without cuing the finish
(hesitation change). That is, the ballroom natural turn is a
two-measure figure consisting of a half natural followed by a
hesitation change, for five weight changes and ending in closed
position diagonal line and center with the lead foot free. We use
"natural turn" as the cue for the one-measure figure, not "half
The term open natural indicates completing the movement in banjo (or as
Moore/Howard say -- with right shoulder leading). To employ sound
mechanics, the natural turn should be danced form closed or banjo
position, whereas the open natural is normally danced from semi-closed.
Flipping the combinations, although possible, generates weaker movement
and partnering. But this is round dancing and almost everything is done.
If a natural turning action is done from closed or banjo, the lady
should dance a heel turn. If she is moving forward (as in semi), a heel
turn is not possible since there is no foot turn for the lady, only
body turn. In my mind I do not think that a separate term is needed for
all the combinations. The key is the finishing position. If I hear the
command "natural turn," I will turn to the right and step back in
closed position no matter if I were in closed or banjo at the start. (I
would do the same if I were in semi, but I'd grumble.) And by the same
token, I would respond to the cue "open natural" by turning to the
right to end stepping back in banjo no matter the starting position.
(N.B. Since 1998, RAL has standardized the full natural turn as a
two-measure figure with six weight changes ending in CP DLC with trail
From an article
published in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC)
Newsletter, May 1998.