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Tips for Dancing the Rumba
As with all Latin dances, the key to making the dance look great is in the styling and in the Cuban motion. The professionals can make even the simplest patterns look outstanding due to their styling. Achieving the soft hip action is most important. Here's a way to think about it. First, think of the dance in terms of slows and quicks. The foot should be placed on count 1 of the slow, but do not place any weight on count 1 of the slow. Most beginners move weight too quickly onto the slow step. The second half of the slow step assumes the weight as the same knee straightens, and, as the same knee straightens, the same hip will rise, creating the desired hip action. A helpful verbal queue is Quick, Quick, Slow - O; Quick, Quick, Slow - O. By saying "Slow - O," you might be able to remind yourself not to transfer weight until the second half of the slow. Hips move as a result of the bending and straightening of the knees, NOT by a conscious swinging of the hips. As a knee bends, the same hip drops. As a knee straightens, the same hip rises. This can be practiced by standing in place and alternately bending and straightening the knees.

As with all Latin dances, the footwork is ball-flat for every step, never using a heel lead. Some teachers say, "place the foot, then move weight to it, place the foot, then move weight to it." Every step should be taken with pressure on the inside edge of the ball of the foot, with the knee flexed. As the weight is taken onto the foot, the heel should lower, the knee straighten, and the heel of the opposite foot should be released, as the hips move softly sideways in the direction of the stepping foot. This hip movement is used in almost every step of Rumba.

Beginners almost always dance on the wrong beat of the music. The break step should occur on the second beat of the measure, not on the first, third, or fourth beat of the measure. As the music is slow, it is almost impossible to become a great rumba dancer without disciplining yourself to count the music and to dance strictly in conformance to the tempo.

Understanding connection is important. Connection in either leverage or compression (as appropriate for the figure) must be maintained at all times. The lead generally entails the building of compression or leverage. A mistake is for the lady to "fail to connect" or to initiate a figure prior to the development of the compression or leverage lead.

Gentlemen: never let a free hand dangle or fall below your waist. If you open up and you are moving away from your partner, allow your arm to flow out, away from your body, but keep it above waist level. As you move back toward your partner, bring your arm in, across your body.


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