Dancemax Letter #35, Thursday, Jan 25, 2001

Dancing Tid-bits
Rumba Basic

Well, You might say, Rumba Basic, so what about it? I would say that every time I teach a Rumba class, something new and something very basic comes to my mind. The following points evolved over the years that I have learned to dance Rumba. This discussion is about International Rumba even though I don't like to use the term "Intl." I like "Cuban Rumba' which sounds better.

1. Feet positions: I assume we all know 6 steps of the Basic Movement.: (Man) starting with 1.LF forward, 2. transfer weight back to RF and 3.LF to side and slightly back. Then 4.RF back, 5. transfer weight forward on LF and then step 6 RF to side (lady normal opposite). I have never been able to understand why the 3rd step had to be side and slightly back but the 6th step was to side only. Actually it is amazing that, that is exactly what happens when you do basic with 1/8 to 1/4 turn to left on each bar of music. Of course when I am dancing I just dance naturally and I am not picky picky but I tend to analyze the basis for written Technique (Revised Tech of Latin American Dancing ISTD).

Discussion: I thought it had to do something with the forward and back movement. In modern ballroom, as we turn and step back the hip seems to lead more but in forward turns the shoulder leads first, true...? I don't know if that makes any sense. I now believe, it is due to the fact that right foot is more turned out (step 2) on forward basic than backward basic (step6) and also the way we measure which foot is ahead of which foot (line drawn perpendicular to great toe). Try, explore and see what I am saying, tell me what are your thoughts. I must say that Walter Laird did not make any distinction in forward and back basic movement. His technique described side and slightly back on LF 3rd step and side and slightly forward on RF 6th step (lady normal opposite).

2. Turn your Basic: Why...? This is one area I feel, was not emphasized in my early training and I think it needed more logical explanation. The turn serves a definite purpose. To put it simply, it helps us to dance with less "space" showing between our legs. It also adds sensuality to Rumba with inner thighs caressing each other specially so for a Lady. Donnie Burns emphasized that in his Lectures. So, what I am saying is, that the 3rd step should move back and as it passes the supporting foot, the turn is completed and therefore it ends being to the side and slightly back. Same thing happens on 6th step, it moves forward and ends being to side at the end of the step. Thus this technique of Basic Movement with a turn to left, helps us to dance from "foot to foot". You have heard that before: "keep your feet under your body." Some students tend to learn from the book only and boom! they step to side.

3. Open Basic; Turning feels awkward while doing basic with bodies far apart. So in order to dance from foot to foot we just don't make any turn. Step 3 LF goes back and step 6 RFgoes forward (lady normal opposite). This will be required when we start rumba walks back or forward.

4. Basic in Place: What a wonderful thing to watch Gaynor do that in BDF Lecture. Good way to practice Hip Motion.

5. Alternate Basic: No problem. Just close LF to Right foot with or without weight on step 1 (count 2), RF in place step 2 (count 3) and step to side LF on step 3 (count 41). You can do it with RF too. Ladies you dont worry, let the Man handle this one.

I think this makes an interesting discussion. You might feel differently.

Questions and comments to, thank you.

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