Can Opener

Type Aerial, Combo, Lift, Flip (Handstand)
Level Advanced 7
Other Names Scissors
Comes From Open Position, Cuddle, Belt Loop Shadow Position, Inside Turn, Bread Basket,
Leads To Open Position, Open Position R-to-R,


In the Can Opener, the leader carries the follower, swings her leg over his neck, and flips her over to the other side. There are several versions including a hand stand and swing around. This aerial move looks more complicated than it is. All it requires is some trust and practice!

This move requires a lot of foreknowledge from both lead and follow. Please read and follow these safety guidelines:

  • It is highly recommended to practice this move with a spotter or tumble mats.
  • Ensure that your social dance club allows aerials.
  • Ensure you have the space on the dancefloor to perform this move. You need a ceiling fixture height of at least 2 feet taller than the lead, and space in all directions around you including behind you.
  • Communicate with your partner! Ask if they know the move before doing it.
  • It’s a good idea to call out the move every time it’s about to happen until you learn it down-pat with that one partner.
  • Due to the many variations it is recommended that you practice and/or communicate before performing this in a social setting so they know what to expect.


  1.  From Open Position, do a Cuddle Turn to a right angle position. Release hold of your right hand, and place it on the follow’s waist.
  2. Release your left hand, and bend down to pick up your follow’s legs at the knee. This hold is also know as a Bread Basket.
  3. Use your knees to lift, and flick your fingers upward to pop the follow’s outside leg up and over your head. At the same time you want to tilt your left ear to your shoulder to move your head out of the way.
    • While she is airborne, move your left hand from underneath her left leg to the top side of her leg.
  4. Bend your knees again, and press up on the follow’s back and down on her leg simultaneously to get her to switch.
    • Again, while airborne, move your arms both underneath the follow ready to catch her.
  5. Bend your knees on impact to absorb the shock.
  6. Straighten your legs and release your right hand to set her down. Again, bend your knees to absorb the shock and stay with your follow. Keep your left arm on her back to maintain connection and slide off to Open Position.


  1. If the lead doesn’t do a move that places your left hand on his shoulder already, put it there. This will help you maintain connection and give you a place to press down and help him generate energy through the move.
  2. Bend your knees with your lead. Jump straight up to assist him with picking up your legs into a Bread Basket.
  3. The leg “pop” over the lead’s head is mostly on you. Don’t do it without his leading, but when you feel that flick lift your leg up with about 70% power. You should be tilted sideways with your left side toward the floor at the end of this step, again, this is on you to make it happen. This helps you maintain a neutral spine position and avoid injury.
  4. When the lead presses down on your left leg, reach around front to his opposite shoulder as you switch. Bend your knees slightly.
  5. Bend your knees when he places you on the floor to absorb the shock.



  •  Another entrance that provides more help to the follow is to do a Belt Loop to Shadow Position, then a L-to-L hand double Outside Turn. At the end of the turn step through the arch so your follow’s arm rests across your shoulders.
  • Practice this move slowly and in stages to ensure you have the correct hand placement for each step.


  • You will find this move more comfortable to perform in pants or tights with a bit of stretch. Short skirts work alright, anything at or below the knee will get in the way.
  • Do not rotate your hips to make this move happen. Instead, keep a neutral spine and rotate your torso when your leg goes over the lead’s head.
  • If your left leg gets stuck under his arm, do the upside down spin variation below so long as your lead knows how to lead that.


  •  Double Can Opener
    1. After completing the switch, your follow will be in Bread Basket on the other side.
    2. Repeat lead steps #3-6 with a reversal of left and right directions.
    3. At the end of this you will be in Open Position R-to-R.
  • Can Opener with Upside Down Spin
    1. Do lead steps #1-3.
    2. Press down on her left leg, but this time keep your right hand on her back, and instead move it so the length of your forearm rests along her back from between her shoulder blades and downward. This adds stability.
      • At this point, follow, your left leg is underneath his arm.
    3. Grab her right hand in your left hand in an arm wrestle grip.
    4. Slowly release your right arm down to hang the follow upside down. You may spin around here if you like.
    5. To exit, either bend and thrust her back upright and finish like a Double Can Opener, or do the following:
  • Can Opener with Upside Down Spin and Handstand Exit
    1. Do the can opener with upside down spin steps #1-4. This time you will move your supporting right arm toward her waist so you can break free in the next step.
    2. Place your left hand on the top of her right hip bone.
    3. When the follow’s hands are firmly planted on the floor, release your right arm and let her kick that leg forward back around toward the ground (follow, the momentum is your responsibility, and fold your body into a toe-touch bend once you cannot stretch anymore). Keep holding her hip until one foot is completely flat on the ground.

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