Cuban Motion in One Short Lesson
Seven Easy-to-Follow Steps to Developing Latin Body ActionImprove the way you dance salsa, mambo, merengue, rumba, and cha cha
Video ScriptCuban motion comes mainly from the alternate bending and straightening of the knees. As a knee bends the same hip drops. Conversely, as a knee straightens, the same hip rises. Thus the hips move up and down. A common mistake is to twist the hips in an effort to achieve Cuban motion.
Step 1—Loosen Up by Bending and Straightening the KneesBegin by standing in place with your feet together and alternately bending and straightening your left and right knees. As a knee bends allow the same hip to drop.
Step 2—Add Stepping Action to the Bending ActionNext, begin stepping in place and continue the alternate bending and straightening action. Try to make complete weight changes with each step. Remember; as a knee bends allow the same hip to drop.
Step 3—Make Distinct Steps Using Ball-Flat FootworkThe correct footwork is ball-flat for all steps. All steps are taken to the inside edge of the ball of the foot. The ball of the foot hits the floor first, and then you lower to the flat of the foot. All steps should be distinct. A mistake is to shuffle the feet. Again, try to make complete weight changes with each step.
Step 4—Add Contra-Body ActionThe natural walking action of humans is for the right arm and shoulder to move forward as the left leg moves forward and conversely for the left arm and shoulder to move forward as the right leg moves forward. This is called contra-body action. Keep your hands above your waist and add contra-body upper body action to the stepping and bending action.
Step 5—Isolate the Rib CageIn Latin dancing, steps to the side entail a natural lead of the rib cage. First loosen up the rib cage. Stand in place, hold your lower body still and move your rib cage alternately from left to right. Be careful not to tilt your upper body.
On steps to the side, the ribcage will lead as shown here. Thus as the left foot steps out to the left, the rib cage slides over to the left. Don’t forget that the left hip will drop as the left knee bends in preparation for stepping to the left.
The action we see here is important for meringue dancing. Again, be careful not to tilt your upper body.
Step 6—Put it all togetherWith your feet together, step in place, making distinct steps, using the ball-flat footwork. The stepping action should be accompanied by the alternate bending and straightening of the knees. Remember, as a knee bends, the same hip drops. Conversely, as a knee straightens, the same hip rises. This is why the steps feel like you are pushing into the floor. Incorporate the contra-body upper body action. Be sure to keep your hands above your waist. Now let’s go from stepping in place to making a basic mambo step pattern. The step timing is quick quick slow, quick quick slow. The small step to the side should entail a natural rib cage lead.
Step 7—The Most Important: PracticeAt first, you will need to think about the actions and the steps. You might feel awkward. As you practice, everything will begin to feel natural and to look natural. Review and practice every day or as often as possible until the actions become as natural and as automatic as tying a shoe.
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