Rumba Dance Steps for Beginners

Rumba Dance Steps

The basic Rumba dance steps are fairly easy to learn. As taught in ballroom lessons, you need to face your partner first.

Learn about what the most important Rumba Dance Steps are, their origins, and their skill level.Unlike all the other ballroom dances, the Rumba emphasizes ones body movements more than their footwork. The rhythm of the dance, which is emphasized by any type of percussion, drums, pots, maracas, etc., is more essential to the dance than the tune itself. The fascinating rhythms and mesmerizing body movements of this dance make it one of the more popular ballroom dances.

The Rumba was influenced by the Spanish and Africans with most of the development of the dance taking place in Cuba. The Rumba evolved in 19th century Havana, originating with the African Negro slaves who had been imported.

The rural Rumba was originally for exhibition rather than participation. In some reference works the Rumba is said to be a pantomime of the movements of barnyard animals with the steady level shoulders depicting the movements of slaves as they carried heavy burdens.


Most look at the Rumba as a dance of love and sensuality with the woman tempting the man with her charms, teasing then withdrawing. Some go a step farther saying the dance is a pantomime of sex with the man dancing very fast in a very sensual yet aggressive manner with greatly exaggerated hip movements, and the woman responding with a defensive attitude. Whichever is correct, the Rumba is the most sensual of all the Latin ballroom dances.

Rumba music is written in 4/4 time, with four beats to each measure. Two measures of music are required to complete one full basic step. In the music, the heavy beat is the one beat, the first beat of the measure. The music tempo is typically 104 to 108 beats per minute.

Rumba Dance Steps – Basic Stances for Rumba

Step 1: Stand facing your partner, but slightly offset to the left. Position feet slightly offset as well. Make body contact from the upper thighs up through the torso.

Step 2: Loosely clasp leader’s left hand with follower’s right hand. Place leader’s right hand on follower’s shoulder blade. Place follower’s left hand on leader’s bicep.

Step 3: Hold your head upright with your chin parallel to the floor. Drop your shoulders and align chest and hips vertically. Position your pelvis naturally in a midway position. Bend your knees slightly.

Step 4: Take each step on the balls of your feet. Switch from the ball of your foot to the flat.

Step 5: Move on the inside edge of your foot’s ball and big toe specifically. Transferring the weight onto the ball of the foot achieves the fundamental Cuban hip action that’s key to rumba dance.

Rumba Dance steps for Leader & Follower

Leader always starts with the left foot. Follower starts with the right.

Follower generally does natural opposite of leader’s footwork.

Rhythm Pattern (8 beats): Single, Double, Single, Double

Verbal Cue for Basic Step (Leader): Forward, hold, side, together, back, hold, side, together OR Slow, quick, quick, slow, quick, quick

Count for Basic Step: 1 hold 2, 3 4, 5 hold 6, 7 8

Side BasicLeader: step side left, together right, in place left; step side right, together left, in place right.
Follower: step side right, together left, in place right; step side left, together
right, in place left.
Basic BoxLeader: forward with left foot, side right, together left; back right, side left, together right.
Follower: back right, side left, together right; forward with left foot, side right,
together left.
5th Position
Breaks
1st half of side basic, both step side and break back in 5th position, relaxing the closed hold to allow for opening up slightly. Leader then drops hand from follower’s back as they step side and break back, holding inside hands only.
Close back up as the step side and break back. End with side basic.
Turning BoxBox, rotating left (counter-clockwise), doing a quarter-turn on each forward/back step.
Lady’s Slow
Underarm
Turn
On count 5 of basic, leader lifts left hand. Follower walks forward in a circle to her right on 7, 8, 1, side together on 3, 4. Leader does a quarter-turn as he steps forward on 1, side together on 3, 4. Re-join partner for 2nd half of box.
Cross-body
Lead
Leader: steps back R (5), starting a ¼-turn to left, keeping follower to his right.
Side L (7), together R (8), ¼-turn to left and step forward L (1). Finish 2nd half of box (side, together).
Follower: steps forward L (5), forward R (7), forward L (8), pivot ½ L on left foot and step back R (1). Finish 2nd half of box (side, together).
Cuban WalksLeader: forward (S), forward (Q), forward (Q). Forward (S), forward (Q), forward (Q). Back (S), back (Q) , back (Q). Back (S), back (Q) , back (Q).
Follower: back (S), back (Q) , back (Q). Back (S), back (Q) , back (Q). Forward (S), forward (Q), forward (Q). Forward (S), forward (Q), forward (Q).
Outside Partner
(from crossbody
lead)
Do first 8 counts of a cross body lead. Then leader steps side left (with no ¼ turn); follower steps side right. In outside partner position, follower rocks back at 45° angle; leader rocks forward. Face partner on side step, then rock to opposite corner.
To finish, when leader would be stepping to side right (count 5) – he turns ¼ to left, pulling follower in front of him to finish off with 2nd half of box.

These Rumba Dance Steps are for beginners and this pattern requires some knowledge of the basics.

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