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Rumba Technique Notes

In Place Switch Weight

  • Heels together. Feet slightly turned out. Bent knee drapes over the other straight leg, inside edge of foot.
  • Hip twists around spine, more
  • Dance upper body: spine weight more forward 
    • standing leg side hip twists, that side more compressed, which will cause the other side/chest more forward
    • body is more stretched diagonally, counter balanced
    • shoulders are connected with chest/side, but try not to turn the shoulders while twisting (use counter balance).
  • Switch knees: fast, no intermediate stop in middle with both knees are bent. Very fast switch.
  • Look forward.


Starting position: start with weight on LF. L arm out, R arm/hand in front.
(Arm is out on the side that has the leg straight. Straight leg side with straight arm out.)
  • 2: step RF out to side, weight to RF
    • RF placement should be sharp, land on whole foot (not toe first and then roll to heel, just whole foot). Feet is the beat.
      • When first landing on 2: R hip is still diagonal fwd, R chest fwd, but with R elbow bend and back (counter chest). elbow react, chest/elbow has the counter motion all the time. Create and keep volume.
      • There is no hip displacement, spine moves with RF (not 100% on RF)
    • Then continue with very smooth movement of arm and body.  Do not dance arm sharp, arm and hands are soft.
    • When R hip goes back, R shoulder/chest goes back, R arm go to side and then fwd. 
    • Both feet heel down, do not lift heel.
  • 3: weight to LF, dance smooth arm, &: R heel up, RF press to ground more, rotate RF, R hip for more rotation. L arm out to side.
  • 4 1: 
    • 4: RF pulled in together with LF, heel touching, 
    • 1: switch hip very sharp, fast, do not shoot RF out, have a distinct position where knees switched feet are still together, really stretch the upper body (see In Place Switch Weight) L knee draper over R leg. 
    • At end, finish with R arm to R out.
  • 2: weight back to LF, repeat.
2341: arm switches 3 times, 

Arms need to "finish" - don't cut arm actions short, finish with elbow, hand and fingers. Back muscle is very active. Don't think about shoulder as much, think about using back muscle.

Rumba Walk

Example: start with LF front, RF back, split weight
  • 2 feet are on 2 lines, do not swivel on one foot and step cross lines. Maintain 2 lines.
  • Long neck, look forward. 
  • Weight onto front LF, RF push floor, rotate RF and R hip, there is still pressure on R toe, to keep more balanced. R hip high. Finish the R feet, R heel down. pushing upper thigh/hip forward for pendulum forward action. (which goes with heel down, finishing RF) 
  • Hip pendulum action, L hip high, full weight on LF before twisting L hip to left, for bigger movement, use upper leg back muscle push forward. L hip really needs to go more fwd diagonal to highest point before twisting back. finish L hip)
  • When hip is neutral, stepping R foot straight forward, do not cross line. Do not turn out the foot stepping forward. (Keep shoulder flat, think leg forward is relative to shoulder, not relative to rotated L hip.) stretch upper body, dancing body diagonally. Always dance body first, then strike RF under shoulder. Keep upper body calm. (When practicing, keep arm forward, it will keep help keep shoulder flat.)
  • Smooth the hip movement (hip diagonally forward and around), not choppy, when bringing back leg in and switch hip. But when placing foot forward, that needs to be sharp. Sharp foot placement.

Full Turn on One Foot

Practice continuous turning on one line. Start with shoulder parallel to the line you are turning on.
  • Head turn 90 degree to right. Spot that target. Align head, necks, spine straight.
  • Always start the turn with turning shoulder first. Breathe in. Step RF fwd (as the shoulder has turned). Continue turning shoulder.
  • Tuck tummy in, center, really important, it helps to keep body stable and not wobble all over. Turn, breathe out. Knees are straight, not locked.
  • Keep weight on balls of feet.
  • Then start turning hips. Then consciously use shoulder contra with R hip to stop the turn (Shoulder turns short. hip turns more.) Opposition.
  • One full turn really doesn't require too much force. Too much force can throw yourself off balance. 

Starting Dance in Open Position

From Lady's perspective:
  • Lady weight is on RF, LF point fwd. Make sure R arm is lower, at Lady's belly button level, not too high (receive/react Man's lead better). Arm/elbow is not rigidly held tightly on side, it should be slightly out, there is some space at armpit. 
  • Delayed Walk:
    • 2: Lady fwd rock (or check)
    • 3: weight back on RF, make sure body weight is more forward toward Man at this time, pressure into hands, with tone (but not stiff, the strong connection comes from body settling weight, spine, not holding partner tighter or harder which will be stiff and heavy), creates dynamic, while prepping L leg extend back
    • 4: delayed back walk, L leg extend back and hold
    • 1&: on &, quick step and immediately followed by 2. Example:  Going into Open Hip twist next:
  • Open Hip Twist: 
    • 2: RF back, make sure to fully settle on R hip, rotate R hip more, tension with Man in R hand. Really settle into R hip, not afraid to take center backR side compression, R shoulder down. Counter balance with partner, so center can go further back.
    • 3&: (delay), (LF)4: fast, RF fwd to Man, then turn to R on 1: Again, settle R side, R arm/elbow slightly out. Center back. Compress.
    • 2 3: Lady walk into her own arm. Thighs tight, collect center. &: turn 180 to left, into Man's hand with tension first before stepping LF back to Fan position.
    • 4 1: LF back into Fan position.
  • Hockey Stick:
    • 2: really settle right side.
    • 3&: delay, 4: RF fwd quick into Man's arm
    • 2 3&: turn on &: thighs tight together, compact, quick turn (start with shoulder turn first), after turning, body fwd, into Man.
    • 41: delayed walk back.
Keep thighs tight, butt muscle and center strong, especially when there are fast turns.