Meredith & Harold

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Rumba Rhythm

by Pete & Mary McGee

Sometimes as Round Dancers, we concentrate too much on learning as many dances as possible, and we forget the basic actions of the various rhythms we are dancing. That is why I always feel that clinics on the different rhythms are wonderful! Even little exercises that work different parts of the body are great and always help us to become better dancers.

In rumba, the art is to try to show a very definite timing through the feet, combined with controlled ankles, strength in the legs, and a continuous movement through the body and arms, which can be related to the music while maintaining an elegant poise of the head and shoulders. To express "perfect rhythm," one must be 100% free in every part of the body. This is not easy! But it can be achieved by the practice of isolation and coordination exercises involving the head, shoulders, arms, wrists, fingers, rib-cage, hips, knees, ankles, and feet.

Stand naturally erect in front of a mirror. Alternatively flex and straighten each leg with the foot flat. Observe how this causes a slight rotation of the hips and a sympathetic movement of the lower arms. Now imagine that you are climbing a flight of stairs. Take the weight completely onto the ball of each foot. Lower the heel slowly as the leg straightens and the other foot is raised to repeat the action on the other foot. Notice how the hip rotation increases to include the rib-cage, and indeed a slight movement of the head, and results in more movement of the lower arms. This is the fundamental action that must be apparent on every step.

When traveling across the room, observe the following rules:

  • Move the body in the direction you wish to go.

  • Assist the body to move in this direction by a controlled use of the supporting foot.

  • Make sure that every step portrays the character and fundamental action of the dance.

  • Ensure that the feet and body speeds are such that a foot is under the body when it arrives in the finishing position and the weight is transferred.

Abide by these rules and you will acquire that slow natural style that gives such pleasure out on the dance floor.

Happy Dancing!


From an educational article published in the ROUNDALAB Journal, Winter 2000-2001. Reprinted in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC) Newsletter, December 2012.



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If you would like to read other articles on dance position, technique, styling, and specific dance rhythms, you may visit the article TOC.



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