How an Hour of Rumba Walks a Day Can Help Your Dancing

Have you ever watched Karate Kid?

Remember how Mr. Miyagi asked Daniel to wipe and wax all the cars in his garage to start training him for Karate - which frustrated Daniel a lot because he wanted to get to the ass kicking right away? Only to find out later on that the action of wiping actually set the fundamental movements of blocking and flow needed in Karate.

Well, Rumba Walks are like that. You might not realize it at first, but detailed movements of the Rumba walks actually set the fundamental movements of Latin dancing.

I am not saying it is the ONLY thing that you need to practice, I’m saying it helps you get your foundations right, to prepare you for the next.

Let me break it down for you:


Click on the tabs below each illustration for descriptions on how to practice. But remember, I can only try and put Rumba Walks in as many words and illustrations, but nothing can substitute actual movement and one-on-one guided studio lessons



  • Footwork – Because of the slow nature of the dance, each tiny little detail is seen by the audience. The Rumba requires beautifully pointed feet and foot articulation.
click to see HOW TO PRACTICE
Get two pieces of tissue paper and step on them with the ball of each foot. Do your Rumba walks without leaving the tissue papers behind. Make sure you carry along the tissue papers by caressing the floor with your foot. Do not forget to articulate your feet by making sure to pass each stage: toe point, demi-point, heel down.

  • Balance & Control – Balance can be improved by learning how to efficiently transfer the body weight from one foot to another. And with it comes control. If you arrive on a foot too early, the tendency will be to overbalance and not be able to stop the momentum. If you arrive too late, the tendency is to be back-weighted and try to catch up and fall. With the Rumba, you have so much time. You need to fill in those slow parts in the music by distributing transfer of weight efficiently, which improves your balance and works those core muscles. Because of the slow tempo of the Rumba, the dance requires the most control of a dancer’s muscles.
click to see HOW TO PRACTICE
As you start doing your walks, break down each stage of the body weight transfer into: (1.) split weight; half body weight on the back leg and half of the body weight on the front leg with the spine in the middle, (2.) transfer weight onto the standing foot with the spine stacked on top of the foot, (3.) settle onto and over the standing foot allowing your hip to do the pendulum rotation which brings in the back leg in preparation for the next step, (4.) at the point of imbalance, quickly allow the free leg to catch your body weight by stepping forward which then starts the next set. Don’t worry if you feel awkward at first. Just try to let your body feel how the weight is transferred from one foot to another. Continue doing this as you do your Rumba Walks around the dance floor.



  • Hip Movement – the primary action of the Latin dances is the Cuban motion or the “figure 8” that is done in the hips. This action tends to be more noticeable when slow, such when dancing the Rumba.
click to see HOW TO PRACTICE
With the right foot in front and left foot behind, start by activating the lower back (lumbar) and pelvic muscles to push your left hip in a high position / hip-lifting action. As you do this, your hip will naturally rotate a little to reach the maximum position. Think of this as completing the ‘left circle’ of the figure 8. As you reach the maximum position of the hip-lifting action, now release the weight and let the hip naturally swing onto the front leg in a pendulum action. As you’ve transferred weight onto the right foot, allow the hip to go even further over the right foot in a settling action (boned movement). Once you’ve reached the maximum position, your hip will naturally rotate to finish the movement, bringing in the back leg. Think of this as the ‘right circle’ of the figure 8. Allow the back leg to close, making the left foot brush past the right and continue to step forward, now with the left foot leading. Repeat.

  • Body Action – dancing is not just about arms and legs. This is a common mistake I see in dancers where they focus too much on the limbs and forget about the part of the body that is the reason why those limbs move in the first place. 
click to see HOW TO PRACTICE
Focus on and be aware of which side of your torso is leading as you progress on doing your Rumba Walks. As your right foot steps forward, the right side of your body is leading. As you settle the weight, your body slightly passes a neutral position and switches to the opposite side lead as the left foot steps forward. Be mindful of how your ribs and upper body switches from one side to the next. There is also an aspect of CBM (Contra Body Movement) involved. As your lower body rotates to the left, your upper body rotates the opposite way to lock the movement and keep your balance. This helps your dancing become less linear and more 3 dimensional.




  • Posture – Posture is important no matter what figure you do. Doing your Rumba Walks is a good avenue to practice your posture as well.


Always wear your invisible crown! ;)

click to see HOW TO PRACTICE
While doing your Rumba Walks, keep your head up, push your shoulders down and create a long neck. Never break this line or hunch your shoulders while trying to move your body. Think of wearing a crown and a beautiful diamond necklace (or a cool hat and an awesome necktie for guys). Never drop your crown and always be proud and show your diamond necklace. Try not to blow up your chest, instead release it down to the floor same as the feeling when you exhale and let all the air out. Check every now and then that your head, shoulders, chest, hip and standing foot are in one straight line.

And that’s how an hour of Rumba Walks can help your dancing. You may choose to work on one aspect such as Hip Movement one day and then Balance the next day, or maybe focus on 2 aspects in a day, devoting 30 minutes for each. It really depends on your own pace and level of mastery.

Think of it as going to the gym where you work on and focus on each body part at a time.

Again, don’t worry if you feel awkward at first, keep doing it everyday until it is ingrained into your system and it becomes as easy as tying a shoelace.

So don’t be impatient and hop on to the “ass-kicking” right away. Practice your fundamentals, and everything else will be easy.

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