Latin Basic Movement

Forward Walks

Start: Standing on LF, LF in front, RF back

    • End of previous "41&":

      • First, rotate thigh outward to finish the back hip and back foot turned out, rotate even more to open up R hip high, nice leg finish.

      • Push on RF, pendulum hip action, moving the spine forward, to make bigger action, the L hip needs to go more fully fwd diagonal to highest point before starting to twist back (do not under dance this action, finish L hip), still with straight leg.

      • There is still pressure on R toe, to keep more balanced. IE of RF, sticky, heavy feet. Do not slide back foot (RF). keep RF in place.

      • Rotate hip to neutral, use tummy to collect back leg/foot, thighs touch, back knee bent, two knees touch, create a small triangle.

      • Continue rotate L hip and start tracking R leg on high toe, brushing calves, thighs together, then go to collected R high toe position. (not going forward yet).

      • Check, right now it should be in a very stretched position: L standing straight leg very stretched to back; R knee stretches forward, R chest fwd. Tummy in (don't break at waist),

      • Both knees continue stretching in opposite direction, pushing LF and rotating L thigh and hip (rotate in its own socket, not breaking hip, sticking hip to side), make a big circle, push spine move forward (rotating L thigh out more will make free R leg slide fwd a bit more), compress left side (very important), shoulder down, which makes R rib cage want to go fwd (creating dynamic and leading with chest), hold R toe as long as possible, delay striking out, pointed. In short: rotate hip, leading with chest and body weight, delay foot, fast foot flick.

      • Make sure brushing is happening throughout: brushing thighs, knees, and calves.

    • "2": (Step on whole count.) LF is not turned out too much. Weight onto front LF, finish RF pushing.

      • WF on RF on the beat with body and foot first, absorb the movement, controlled and soft landing, then finish hip, repeat the process on the other side.

      • L hip high, R hip low. hip is diagonal now. Do not attempt to increase hip motion by sticking head forward and butt back. Use compression, there is no break at hip. Do as much hip motion as you can while keeping body alignment.

      • Rotate L side around spine more, open L side, LF toe turns out, dancing R side fwd, really stretch diagonally. Repeat the process.

      • Push LF more to move spine forward, spine on whole R foot, in the meantime, hips are neutral, but diagonal.

      • Always dance body first, then strike RF under shoulder. Do not turn out the foot stepping forward, do not cross center line. (shoulder flat at this time, think leg forward is relative to shoulder, not relative to rotated L hip.) stretch upper body, dancing body diagonally.

        • Focus on connected movement, moving spine forward as the same time of pushing foot to demi-point, do not push foot and leaving hip back to attempt to create high hip in the back.

      • Pendulum action: Continue LF to pointe, spine on front of R foot, compress R side, this is reaching the maximum, R hip is high, L hip is low, still same diagonal.

        • At the same time, body should not bend backward. Keep body alignment. Do not isolate the upper body.

        • From shoulder, there is downward pressure, compress. Create curve flared front leg, it's on the edge of moving/twisting.

        • At this time, the LF (back foot) could have slightly more turn out. (Turned out toe will end in line with heel of front foot.)

      • Finish with tail bone down. Use pressure on back foot, ankle downward. So there is good axis for swivel/direction change.

      • If it feels balance is off, first check alignment of body, shoulder should be square to front (there is the opposition to the hips, i.e. if left hip is back, left shoulder should feel forward, the opposition - this helps with the balance.)

      • 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.

    • "&": repeat on R side, twist to the right, release L leg.

    • 3: step RF fwd. When placing foot forward, that needs to be sharp. Sharp foot placement. but soft body and arm.

    • 41: At end of 1, really try to stretch back leg back, front knee forward, creating tension before striking front foot out, giving it a sharper look.

Repeat: RF: Demi, pointe, release, demi, flat, [LF: demi, pointe, release, demi, flat...]


  • Long neck/spine, look forward. Always compress/squeeze the side on the standing leg.

    • Moving foot: pressure hard into the floor using IE of foot, sticky, heavy feet. Toe could be touching floor (for those open toe shoe that allows it).

  • Both feet: inside edge, never roll out flat or go outside edge.

  • Two feet are on 2 lines, do not swivel on one foot and step cross lines. Maintain 2 lines.

    • Spine moves steadily over the foot and continue to move throughout the steps. Continuous hip movement (not choppy), also do not stop moving.

      • Spine and hips movement could slow down or speed up, but never stops. Feet and leg movement could stop.

  • Do not turn out foot too much when stepping forward. Relax shoulder. Look forward.

    • Free arm: do complete, big circle. Small circle looks like paddling water.

    • Connected actions: Do not place the foot without moving the spine (except when it's intentional delayed walk).

      • Pendulum action of hips is connected to transferring of the spine. When hips swings forward, spine moves forward.

      • Twisting action of the hips is connected with the movement of the legs.

  • Make the walk continuous, not choppy.

Back Walks

Keep body weight more forward.

  • Start with RF in front. Weight on LF. Imagine a string pulling from left side to R toe.

    • On "&": L thigh already slightly open, collect belly button up and in (like someone poking your tummy), rotate inside L hip joint (don't break line) opening up L thigh even more, stretch the L leg,

      • Upper body action: R rib cage forward, for fuller balanced look - a bit counter intuitive, but R rib cage is forward.

      • Compress L side, pull up R thigh to bent the knee (do not just bend knee on its own, it should come from thigh being pulled up, from collecting tummy. Don't bend at waist and break body alignment either.) Collect RF to high toe position next to LF.

      • The whole process can be quick with quick release the R knee, which allows for longer leg lines and faster/sharper leg action, but do not skip actions.

      • Connected movement (hip and leg).

      • It's important to release the foot ahead of the spine. Do not pull body back. Body is quite forward.

      • Accelerate front foot, Squeeze thighs as scissors. Allow knee to drape over (cross).

      • Track with inside edge of RF till it gets to the "spot" where the two knees are "locked together" (the bones on 2 knees fits perfectly together). This is as big a back step as it gets. Keep it small, if the step is too big, butt/hip will stick out when settling on it.

      • Upper thighs are very close and tight. The whole time - keep body forward, do not let it fall back, do not let gravity take the step.

      • Thighs touching, then knee touch, R toe and L heel on same line, track inside edge of RF till it gets to the "spot" (small triangle, where two knees are locked together, the bones on 2 knees fits perfectly together), this is as big a back step as it gets.

    • At this spot (this is the marker for all backwards steps), RF is on ball of foot.

    • Then roll RF down flat (straightening back leg), absorb the landing of the R heel to floor (not stomping sound). two straight legs, there is a moment both feet on on ball of feet, there is the rolling feeling. Keep the leg line. going to split weight position. Maintain the forward pressure on front foot (like elder's cane). This is the point when you have both feet flat. Do not start releasing front heel until back foot is flat, i.e. do not go on balls of both feet at any one time. Back foot has controlled lowering. (Slight turn out, not too much, otherwise the other foot is going to click on it.)

    • Stretch the front leg, LF goes to demi-pointe, then pointe. At this time, hip is neutral, both legs are straight. (Always pointe front toe when stepping back.)

      • It's the pushing LF from flat to demi to pointe that made hips neutral.

      • Front foot (LF) should not slide on floor when RF receives weight. If that happens, it means momentum is dragging body back. Don't do that. Need to keep body in forward poise and use muscle to release LF and point it back.

      • There is no more settling, twisting in back walks. Though this is walking back, the energy is still toward your partner.

    • Contract right side, LF pushes the floor, quick release L knee, do not let body fall back on its own. (repeat)

The main difference in "41" between Forward and Back Walk

    • Leg in Back Walk accelerates ahead of spine and slowly accepts weight.

    • In Forward Walk, spine moves and foot immediately accepts weight.

In Latin dancing, most often, spine moves steadily, but leg/foot moves faster and sharper.

Side Steps

Side step size: stand on one foot, point the other foot to the side (without moving spine). Step the other foot down, generally it's right under the shoulder. That's how much the feet are apart from each other.

Keep pressing inside edge of ball of foot (IEBF) into floor. Rotate ankle downward "breaking ankle". The feet moves the spine. Never begin to transfer weight until the stepping leg is straight.

Example: stepping RF to right side (using Rumba timing):

    • "2": L side twist, RF track with inside edge to side directly to the spot. Fast foot placement.

      • (Not like other dances, if RF starts in the back, it does not go in to LF first and then out, do not do 90 degree angle.)

      • At this time, full weight is still on left leg, RF IEBF is pressed into floor. (Leading with ribs to right for greater effect.)

    • Allow R leg to straighten at the same time moving spine to a split weight position. Straight, split weight on flat foot.

      • With two straight legs, both heels on floor, roll using inside edge of the feet. Roll onto RF, feet moves spine. Outside of LF peel off floor, till it can't peel anymore, go to demi-pointe, and then to pointe when it's appropriate. Pendulum action to diagonal right.

      • R hip is high, L hip is low.

    • "&": R hip twist to draw inside edge of toe close to the other foot. heel leads the rest of the foot, pressure IEBF of LF on floor maintained until left heel is brushing right ankle, left knee crossing in front of right leg.

      • Two feet are closed now.

      • No artificial "tick" tilting pelvis forward. center/spine moving is a result of figure 8.

    • "3", Pendulum to left, moving spine to straight L leg. Compress L side to get high L hip, low R hip.

    • "&": L hip twist, connected action sending R leg out to side, slightly diagonally forward. Opposition.

    • "41": repeat similar to count "2". Spine shifts to right.

      • on "1", hips should not move beyond the leg line, i.e. do not break body alignment.

Really good practice: Rumba Cucarachas (feet to the side, then closes, details see Rumba Technique) and Cuban Rocks (feet are kept apart).

Musicality, power:

  • create resistance inside the body. From 2nd position, belly tummy moves up and back/inside, create pulling together feeling with two inner thighs, build up feeling, rotate standing leg back, the free leg knee starts to bend a little, last minute to leg go and feet closes.

Forward Checked Walk

This is the action used in Rumba basic.

  • 2: LF fwd, basic Rumba Walk Technique. Ends L hip diagonally high.

  • &: L side twists. Twisting causes R leg checking action, with R knee goes to the spot. start preparing moving back.

      • RF in demi-pointe, arch perpendicular to floor (as much as possible). ("broken ankle").

    • Back foot (RF) does not move, it stays in same spot.

      • In Rumba, weight is over whole foot - which is Forward Checked Walk. (Some instructors say it's 70-30 weight split.) In Cha Cha, it will be Forward Check Action and weight is more back.

    • Finish L side twisting to back.

  • 3: Push LF to transfer weight to whole foot on RF, R hip diagonally fwd right (yes, RF is back, R hip forward)

  • &: R hip twist, connected movement - L leg to side. L hip diagonally fwd.


To create dynamic:

  • Create stretch, resistance and internal opposition: tummy in, chest fwd, knee back, stretching at all times.

  • Focus more on "dancing Actions", not "dancing steps" to give it more dynamic

    • Foot Action:

      • pushing back foot makes the whole body/spine move forward.

      • pushing front foot makes the body go backwards.

      • Absorb, controlled soft landing of the foot for both stepping fwd or backward.

    • Leg Action:

      • tracking leg/foot moving from back to front with foot in high toe position, brushing calves, knees, thighs, foot under knee, delay stepping front foot.

      • using thighs to turn out more.

    • Hip Action:

      • Hip has continuous figure 8 action, could be slowed down, but never stops.

    • Body Action:

      • leading with chest. ribcage forward. It goes together compressing side and rotating thighs/legs.

      • Create diagonals. Always starting and ending body in diagonal positions, stretch to the max with one hip rotate back, opposite chest forward. In between, body goes through neutral, but never end in neutral position.

  • Movement: goes through: step, finish (settle hip) and then collect (high toe position)

Body Wave

Key is body isolation and flexibility - moving each part separately and connecting them together smoothly.

Practice body wave by standing close to a wall with a small gap between wall and body, facing away from wall. Focus on isolation of each part.

    • Shoulder going back touch wall (not just shoulder joint, but the whole top shoulder across neck goes back). It feels like chest is really sticking out

    • Pull chest back (feels like tummy sticks out)

    • Pull tummy (feels like hips are forward)

    • Lastly, pull hip back (like sitting).

Coming out of this in reverse order.