Rumba Technique

Rumba Technique

See Latin Technique for basic Latin actions and technique. Rumba and Cha Cha Cha have a lot of similarities, the music for Rumba is slower giving it more time for hip actions.

Rumba Posture and Movement

    • Posture:

      • Chest more forward, stomach back. Sternum lifted, long neck and spine.

    • Shoulders down, but arms needs to "float", do not tense up arms.

      • Arms: more rounded with tone, do not drop arm on side and hold tight. Tone with partner shall be "just right" to be lead-able and not heavy.

  • Connection with partner:

      • Hand connection: do not pull, give to your partner with tone/pressure, even when moving back.

      • Push and pull: use the minimum necessary and do not create extra unneeded stiffness.

    • In open position, keep lower arm, wrist don't bend up, keep wrist flat. Lady hook middle finger of right hand, respond in same level of tone - which will be different for different partner. Do not "resist" or stiff up.

  • Movement:

      • Settle hip, squeeze/compress the side of standing leg, think about shoulder and hip meet in middle. Settling action initiates the movement.

      • Do not stop and wait for beat, take the time to complete an action, fill in music. When feet are not moving, spine, hips body are moving.

    • Arm action: complete the arm action, not stopping half way. It is initiated from body - rigs/shoulder.

      • When stepping back, move stomach first. Give it a moment to have a "picked up" center (corresponding to breathing in) before settling into the hips.

      • When stepping forward, move chest forward first.

      • For more dynamic: make some step faster, the other step slower, to show speed contrast, showing off leg actions more.

  • How to do "sharp, fast" turns or knee switches that creates more dynamic, also more stable:

      • 2 upper thighs tight together, think about squeezing small ball in between thighs. No gap in between legs.

      • Keeping center in.

      • Turn shoulder/upper body first; eyes: spotting; then head and hips turn sharply (but not with so much force to throw balance off)

  • Breathing: generally, breathe in when stepping, breathe out when settling.

Basic In Place (Switch Weight In Place)

    • 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 to maximum, around spine, side is compressed, shoulder down, which will cause the other side/chest more forward

      • body is more stretched diagonally, counter balanced. Stretch longer, stealing time, making switching appear faster.

      • 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 leg straight, Heels together, IE of RF. Nice draped knee line. L arm out, R hand in front, R arm on side of body.

Arm is out on the side that has the leg straight. Straight leg side with straight arm out. In "2341", arm switches 3 times (3 weight changes).

Face forward, look at partner, with energy.

The side step is traditionally executed with both heels remaining on floor, it is now often seen in competitions, and acceptable, to create the line with the free foot. (Lift heel of the foot without weight, pressing with IEB for greater extension.)

    • 2: L hip back, step RF to side, does not need to be big step, just under shoulder, weight to RF. Fast feet. But keep arms soft.

      • RF placement should be sharp, land on whole foot (not toe first and then roll to heel, just whole foot). Feet is the beat. Spine moves with RF, but not 100% on RF.

      • When first landing on 2: R hip is still diagonal fwd, squeeze L side, 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.

      • Continue with very smooth movement of arm and body. Do not dance arm sharp. Arm and hands are soft.

      • R arm will straighten to the side.

      • When R hip goes back, squeeze R side, R shoulder/chest goes back, R arm from going to side and then fwd (elbow straight).

      • Both feet heel down, do not lift heel (this is the traditional way).

      • No artificial forward "tick". Center moving forward is a result of figure 8 action.

      • There is only partial weight transfer, not full weight.

    • 3: weight to LF, dance smooth arm, &: RF press to ground more, R hip for more rotation, rotate RF, R heel up, (RF is very turned out to R to almost parallel to floor board), R hip high in the back. L arm out to side. 2 straight legs.

    • 4: RF pulled in together with LF, heel touching, L hip twist to back. Really squeeze L side. L shoulder down, R chest projects forward. Everything rotate around spine. RF no weight, IE of foot. R knee drapes over (do more).

  • 1: switch hip, weight on RF

    • very sharp, fast knee switch, do not shoot LF out, have a distinct position where knees switched, feet are still together, really stretch the upper body (see Switch Weight In Place)

    • End L knee drape over R leg. Try to show bigger gap between one bent leg and one straight leg.

    • Really compress R side, R shoulder down. L chest forward.

    • While hip twisting is sharp, hip movement is slow and continuous.

    • At end, finish with R arm to R out. Breathe.

  • 2: LF to side, repeat.


  • Always squeeze the side of the standing leg. The other side chest forward.

  • Do not tense up, try to be soft in upper body. Body should look and feel more free to move. Arm movement is initiated from body/squeezing side, not on its own.

  • 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.

  • Lead with the ribs: (only do this for greater effect after fundamentals are solid)

      • The ribs moving in opposition to the hips creates the appearance of much more action, more volume.

      • As you transfer weight, lead with the ribs, and as the hips come over, switch move the ribs the other way.

      • The ribs are already moving to the right before "2".

  • Make movement smooth, fluid, continuous, no stopping, not choppy. Some part of body is always moving, squeezing, stretching.

Starting Dance in Open Position with Delayed Walk

From Lady's perspective:

To start with:

  • Lady weight is on RF, LF point fwd, slightly cross in front.

  • 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, but not too high either.

  • Body is projected fwd.

Delayed Back Walk:

  • 2: Lady fwd rock (or check), LF doesn't get full weight on it, keeping L leg straight, rotate hip only.

  • 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

    • move tummy back first, rotate hip to L, quick release L leg, L leg extend back and hold, with intention and tone,

    • R chest forward toward Man, middle of body and right side has forward feeling, upper body settling into R hip, R hip fwd, compress R side.

    • There is tension in Lady's RH to Man's LH, but don't lean on Man, R elbow may go behind body, to absorb the tension, R hand should not do hard push.

    • Don't stick butt out. Upper body should still be straight up (weight is fwd on RF), body is not slanted forward or back.

  • 1&: on &, quick step, when receiving weight on LF, do not let hip back to neutral, hip is still twisted to left. Then, start twisting upper body to right, followed by hip and RF into next figure. All these happen very quickly.

    • RH still have the forward tension to Man's LH. R arm should not pull back.

    • Next figure: e.g. Open Hip twist.

Types of Rumba Walks

Forward Walk

This is the typical Rumba walk, e.g. Progressive Walks.

See details in Latin Technique.

Check Forward Walk

Check Forward Walk is for changing the direction of movement, from going forward to going backward, e.g. Basic Movements

Delayed Forward Walk (Extended Forward Walk)

Delayed Forward Walk has a delay in putting weight on the foot. It will start with pointing the leg, keep the straight line and move spine, transfer weight at the very end "&a". E.g. Alemana and Spiral.

Pressed Forward Walk

Pressed Forward Walk is used in Advanced Hip Twist and Sliding Doors where one will press and hold on a bent knee on "41", on "&", you will step and then turn to continue forward in a different direction.

Forward Walk Turn

Forward Walk Turn is a turning step and is used to turn "inside" (the side of non-supporting foot) 180 degrees. E.g. Alemana and Spot Turns.

Backward Walk

This is the typical Rumba Backward Walk in figures like Basic Movements (Open Bsic) and Progressive Walks. Be careful to keep weight forward and not fall backward.

Delayed Backward Walk (Extended Backward Walk)

In Delayed Backward Walk, typically the Lady points her LF back on "41", but delays moving spine back, the distance between partners will shorten, allowing more compression in connection, then Lady moves on "&a".

Pressed Backward Walk

Pressed Backward Walk is used in Natural Top (for Man) or Reverse Top (for Lady), where one foot crosses behind the other foot (Latin Cross).

Backward Walk Turn

Backward Walk Turn is used in Basic Movements (Closed Basic) when it is turned. It is a side step slightly back, after turning it ends to the side.