Rumba Dance – How to Dance International Latin Rumba

Inna Brayer Pavel Pashkov

The ballroom version of rumba dance originates from Cuba where it was derived from a dance called Bolero-Son. The modern international ballroom style of the rumba dance was brought to England by Monsieur Pierre who visited Cuba in 1947, 1949, and 1953.

The international ballroom rumba dance tempo is slower than American rumba, which is more of a social dance. The international Latin rumba is danced to a rhythm of 120 beats per minute.

How to dance International Rumba

There is no rise and fall in dancing rumba. The steps are small and precise in relation to the beat. It is very important that the step happens right on the beat. When taking a step, we arrive on a straight leg with our weight positioned right over the leg.

The timing of the step and arriving on the straight leg is more important than the hip action.

Speaking of the hip action, it should never be forced, as the true Latin hip action is not an act of deliberately moving your hips around, despite what many beginners may erroneously think and/or be lead to believe by their instructor, whether wittingly or unwittingly. But rather, the correct hip action, is an act of settling into the hip of a standing leg while you build-up the power (derived from the floor through your standing leg – the so-called ground-force momentum) and prepare to take the next step.

Once again, it is critical to take the Rumba step and arrive on it just as the music beat strikes! The common mistake of many beginner dancers is taking the step too early, before the beat strikes. – Not surprisingly, many high level Latin dancing professionals recommend to start building the momentum for the step by initiating the movement in your upper body during the preceding beat, with shoulders and spine moving slowly in the direction of the next step, while the hips counteract that motion by moving in the opposite direction. When you finally do take that step, there has been enough momentum and force been built from the motion within your body. Thus, the actual step is quick and precise powered by the motion from within your body.

Watch the rumba video below to see how precise and sharp Micheal’s and Joanna’s steps are.  Also pay attention to their posture.  Pay special attention to the sensual aspect of the dance.  Please Note, you may want to disregard the introduction, which has nothing to do with the Rumba technique per say, and instead focus on the dance elements themselves.

The correct Latin dance posture is standing with the weight positioned over the balls of our feet, and our body being aligned over the balls of our feet, as well. When we stand correctly with our hip bones our shoulders aligned over the balls of our feet, then we feel very stable, which allows us to take quick and precise steps deriving speed and power from the dance floor.

A good way to develop a solid rumba technique is by practicing rumba walks from the first day that you start dancing. You will find that rumba walks are practiced in many competitive ballroom dancing studios by beginners and seasoned dancers alike. Below you can watch a rumba walk demonstration by Slavik and Karina.

Dancing the basic step

The basics step in Rumba is danced on 2 – 3 to take a step forward on 2, then transfer the weight back on 3.  You can also count 2 and 3 as quick quick.  Once you’ve danced two and three by taking a step forward and transferring your weight back on the count of three, you will take a step to the side on four and you will hold for the count of one.  You can also count the four-one count as a slow.  Please note that the step will still be quick and precise, but the hip action will be danced for two counts (4 and 1) to fill the music.  You can watch the rumba basic demonstration video below.


About Alex the Dancing Fool!

Aleksandr Biyevetskiy is a competitive ballroom dancer, blogger, and a student of life.
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