The rumba is often referred to as the queen of the Latin American dances. It is a slow, romantic and sensuous dance characterized by the use of strong hip action. Although the first step of each figure is taken on the second beat of the music (count 2), the dance is commenced with the hips already moving on the preceding beats 4 1. Every step commences to move with a slightly flexed knee. The knee straightens just before the foot reaches its position. As the weight is taken fully on to the step, the hips move naturally in the direction of the leg receiving the weight. Here are some popular rumba dance figures.
Cucarachas - Cucaracha means cockroach in Spanish. This dance figure supposedly mimics the action of squashing a cockroach with one's foot. A Cucaracha is a group of three steps ended with feet together. Either foot is placed in any open position with part weight. Weight is then transferred to the other foot and the moving foot will close. A rotary or lateral hip movement may be used. In some figures two steps of a Cucaracha are danced in which case these are known as a Cucaracha action.
Cuban Rocks - The "rocks" here do not refer to any stony outcrops or islets off the coast of Cuba. They refer to the oscillating or rocking movements of the dancers' hips. Cuban Rocks are a group of three weight changes keeping the feet in place and may be danced in any position where the feet are apart with weight on either foot. They may be danced together or individually while partner dances a solo Spot or Switch Turn. A rotary or lateral hip action may be used.
Hockey Stick - This dance figure is popular with beginners and it traces out the contour of an ice hockey stick or an inverted obtuse letter "L" as shown by the lady's steps. This is a six-step dance figure. The first three steps outline the "blade" of the hockey stick and the next three steps outline the "shaft" of the hockey stick.
Fencing - A delectable dance figure mimicking the actions of a fencer. The man steps RF forward and across in Promenade Position with R knee flexed. The lady steps LF forward and across in Promenade Position with L knee flexed. Both dancers recover to stand in Open Counter Promenade Position. As you lunge, extend your arm on that side and imagine you are thrusting a fencing foil. Raise the other arm for balance and effect. En Garde !
As the rumba is a slow dance it is considered relatively easier to dance than the other Latin American dances. Strong hip action is however often emphasised. There are basically two types of hip action - lateral and rotational. A lateral hip action is where the hips move to left or right with minimal rotation whilst a rotational hip movement is where the hips rotate around the vertical line of the spinal column. Happy dancing!