Latin Dynamics and Styling


Dynamics is changes in energy - it's how to do what you do.

To improve quality of movement:

    • You can't approach it "statically". Instead, take the whole body, move whole body from fingers to toes in one whole organic unit.

    • You do have to learn individual pieces (how to move spine, use feet, muscle etc.), you also need to relate that to the core.

    • Keep things simple, based on strong core principals. Be clear where things originate from.

    • Everything is connected to spine. Learn to use the spine, from the floor on and up.

    • Use the energy created by using spine and the core. Let energy flow.

    • To avoid the "disconnected" body/arm look: everything has be moving connected together in a simultaneous fashion.

      • "Connected": simultaneous connection; or action/reaction (still a form of connected actions)

    • Energy is always circulating, not stopped. When "settling" on a step, hip should not stop there, it has to continue moving. Fluid movement.

    • There may be different pathways for the energy to go through. Once you are on a chosen pathway, go deeper into the action.

Time, Space, Weight, Connections

How to use time: Sudden vs. Sustained action.

How to use space:

    • Direct: directly go to the position, shortest way to position.

    • Flexible: elbow, wrist, hand - longest way to get to position.

Combining these: sudden and direct, sudden and flexible, etc.

Weight: heavy vs. light. Latin action is typically heavy.

How energy flows through the space:

    • energy is "bound":

      • arms close around body. energy contained within the body.

      • Even when releasing in space (e.g. stepping to side), the energy is still in the body.

    • energy is "free": the opposite of "bound", body releasing energy

Connections of the body:

    • Cannon is Action/Re-action. Normally, we don't use this in Latin.

    • Connected Action: when one side moves, the other side moves with it. It's connected. Examples of connected actions:

      • Side step: Rumba, settling on "2&" is connected action, "3&" is connected. it creates time. As hip rotates to one side, the opposite leg steps to side.

      • Forward step: Hip swings with body pendulum forward, moving spine at the same time. Hips and body become one straight line with leg at the same time with tail bone down

Use of Space (Body, Arms, Wrists, and Hands)

Body Design

Be very aware of the shape the body makes. Think of dancing all of body, not just one piece.


    • Arms should be used in unaffected way, but never static.

    • Arms and hands are extensions of the rib cage. The order of extending outward is: rib cage, shoulder, elbow, wrist and hand (one following the other in that order).

    • When extending arms out to the side: shoulders down, as arm start coming up, at the same time, arm start "rotating" and the rotation continues into elbow and hands. The palm of hands is almost facing up.

    • Even with in static shape, you could create flexibility, rotation to make the shape dynamic. e.g. start with arms to the side, hands at hips, when moving forward, feel the wind blow at you, the arms will go to the back. (Switch Turns)

    • When an arm action is started, finish the action, don't cut it short (e.g. Alemana first step on count 2 when Lady's pull L arm to wrap her own body.)

    • Be very aware of where arm is, don't do a lot extra stuff which will be distracting.


    • Hands is a very expressive part of the body to create shape and statement.

    • Ballet, classical dancers: hands vanishes with the line of the body (no tension in the hands)

    • Latin dances - exotic look - always create angles in the body

      • thumb touches the bottom flesh part of the middle finger. (Think of palming a quarter like magician hiding the quarter.)

      • pinky flared out.

      • angles in hand: more flares in hand (all fingers)

      • angles in wrist (some calls it "broken wrist", think about showing off your ring).

    • Make fluid movement: ebbing, flowing through different shapes of the hand.

    • Man's hands: follow the line of the wrist. Strong connected line. Rotate through elbow, wrist (keeping shoulders down). Rotate as arms are coming up (as in Switch Turns.)

    • Lady's hands: can articulate a lot more.

    • Body should be always progressive, even when static shape is used: use rotation, flexibility, stretching within the shape.


    • Looking out to the horizon.

Spatial Progression

    • In dancing, body progresses from one body design to another design.

    • Spatial progression is how you progress from one body design to another body design.

    • Arm movement should be very connected with the rest of the body.

    • There are different pathways to move through space:

      • Horizontal space: the plane of the table. When rotating, the energy is on plane of a table.

      • Vertical space: the plane of the wheel. When moving forward/back, the energy is wheeling vertical plane.

    • Be very aware of the shape each step finishes in. Finish the action and remove all other movement that is not part of the body design.

Spacial Tension

Spacial Projection

Styling Exercises

It's important to finish the arm (creating a design), making a conscious choice, use bigger space.

Arm Exercises

Stationary exercises (basic Rumba arms) with feet apart (or do this in combination with walking forward)

Start: left hand on L hip, R elbow bent, upper arm to side, parallel to floor, so R hand is in front of chest.

    1. Right elbow down, left hand/arm to side (wheeling through shoulder)

    2. Right hand slide down along side of body (wheeling through shoulder), left elbow bent (table through elbow)

    3. Right arm out, left elbow down (wheel through shoulder)

    4. Right elbow bent (table through elbow), left hand slide down side of body (wheeling through elbow). This is back to the starting position.

Repeat from #1.

Rumba Open Basic with One Hand Hold

Start: weight on Man's RF, Lady's LF. In one hand hold open position, Man's LH holds Lady's RH. Free arm to the side.

[Note: this is for Lady's part, in Rumba timing.]

Variation #1: (bend elbow on 2)

    • "2": Lady RF back, Left elbow bent (plane through elbow)

    • "3": Replace weight on Lady's LF, Left elbow down (wheel through shoulder)

    • "4": Lady RF to side, left hand track through side of body

    • "1": Left hand wheel out to finish to the side on "1".

Variation #2: (arm forward on 2)

    • "2": L arm goes forward, palm down. (plane through shoulder)

    • "3": Flip hand, palm up, bend elbow, arm draws in to center.

    • "4 1": Left hand track down through side of body, then out to side: arm, elbow, forearm, hand.

      • OR, depending on the figure, it could be straight up on the side of the ear.

Rumba Underarm Turn

Start: Lady's weight on RF, ready to do underarm turn:

    • "2": Lady left hand go to hip (wheeling down through elbow).

    • "3": keep hand on hip when turning

    • "4 1": finishing with arm out to side.