"Dancing Tid-bits" Issue #41, Thursday, March 8, 2001

Dancing Tid-bits
Rumba Walks

Max, I have been reading some of the postings you have on the Dancesport UK web site with some interest and I am wondering if you could shed some light (e.g., your interpretation/opinion) on how to properly do a forward rumba walk (full weight transfer). In particular, what is the timing ofthe weight transfer and how does that relate with the footwork? Thank you, Jaime

Dear Jaime, First of all, are we talking only forward rumba walks or both (backward also). We will take backwalks and others next time, let's discuss forward walks today. I wanted to write my interpretation of this very controversial subject for a long time. So, thank you, fasten your seat belt and here is my song...!

Forward Walks: Watch a Camel, a Deer or a Horse for that matter. I think the rumba walks present the animalistic aspect of Latin dancing. The natural technique of these animals seems to resemble what we work so hard to accomplish in Rumba Walks.

I think that following points are to be considered but they are to be studied kind of all together. It is almost impossible to disarticulate all this or run it in slow motion which becomes robotics. Nonetheless let us try.
  • The Movement of the Body
  • The Moving of the Legs and Feet and Foot Speed
  • Timing of Events
  • The Leg Lines and Body Lines
  • Settling of the Hips and Hip Movements
  • Distribution of Weight and Footwork
Let us divide each beat into 2 parts, 2& 3& 4& 1&. I recall Espon Salberg quoting Walter Laird "It is impossible to say where and when and what " exactly" happens in terms of time in music." If it was so mechanical we will be robots preprogrammed and there would be no dance. So keep an open mind.

Definition: A walk is from close to close. However for discussion purposes it is easier to start a walk from the backfoot after a forward step has been taken. Assume we stepped on RF forward on 41

Starting Position: Weight is on Right Foot and both Legs are straight with good Tone. The Left Leg has rotated outwards and left toe has turned out 1/8 (or more).

Body Movement, Movement of Legs and Feet: I recall Johanes Eftedal at Cobo Hall emphasizing "the body moves and moves and the movement of backfoot is delayed until this is not possible." This creates foot speed In other words the foot arrives in a hurry to catch your body weight.

Let's talk about Hip Motion and Step Forward. The Right Hip starts to "settle" and Left Knee starts to flex (bend) in preparation for the LF to move forward. Body is gradually moving forward to a point of imbalance and therefore with a good footspeed the LF moves forward more or less straight. As the LF is passing RF the right foot starts its turn out with rotation of right leg. Now weight is collected on LF and both Legs are straight and Toned and another walk started with the RF.

Timing: The hip settling or so called Cuban motion happens on & at which time also the backfoot is closing to supporting foot. On count 2 and 3 all this happens at a faster speed than the 41 . Even though 41 is slower, the hip movement is delayed till later part of count 1, in other words & of 1

The Leg, Ankle and Body Lines: We do not step on a straight Leg but it may be said that in a forward walk you arrive on a straight Leg. Let us make it simple and say that the leg straightens out as soon as the weight is collected. The passing knee is most bent as the moving foot is passing the supporting foot. I consider this to be almost like a fig 4 slid down. The Ankle of the passing foot is heperextended (show shoe laces), some ladies can produce amazing lines with their beautiful ankles and latin shoes.

Distribution of Weight and Footwork. The Foot work is Ballflat throughout. It is as simple as that or is it really?...In starting position, as I have my weight on right foot, the foot is flat and there is more weight into the ball of the foot. There is floor pressure in the Toes of Backfoot. As I prepare to take LF forward, I feel the weight in my RF comes to the Center of the foot arch. As the LF passes close to RF the weight really seems to shift more into my right heel and then finally again it goes into my forefoot and I use this "pushoff" from my supporting foot to step forward on LF with a toe turnout of my RF. The inside of the big toe becomes inside edge of Ball then flat as LF moves forward. The forward motion almost comes to a halt as the weight shifts into the heel of supporting foot and I think this creates the Latin "Tic".

Caution: I have heard and seen many other interpretations but this one seems to be logical and easy for me to follow. The best walks that I recall in my humble opinion are those, as shown by Gaynor and Espen Salberg. I strongly believe that the stepping foot does not have Turnout and this turnout phenomenon happens in the backfoot. Also we should avoid stepping across the line of travel as many fashion models do on a fashion show.

Thank your for your patience (if you read this letter) and goodbye..The next issue might be late as I plan a mini vacation. ..Max

Questions and comments to Dancemax@aol.com, thank you.

This article is part of and should be seen in the frame context of Dancesport UK, Tid-bits