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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

History Of The Cuban Motion

Posted by patrick

By Melanie LaPatin

Whether its the Rumba, Mambo, Cha Cha, Salsa or Merengue, theres a lot more to Latin dancing that simply learning the steps. While all of these styles are great fun to dance, in order to master any of them, you have to develop what is known as the Cuban Motion. Although somewhat hard to describe, the Cuban Motion is like what they used to say about a rattlesnake, Youll know it when you see it.

The Cuban Motion earned its name from the way that Cubans move when they dance, and this motion is essential to any form of Latin dancing if you want to do it right. Of course, it comes naturally to Cubans. When performed properly, the Cuban motion is fluid, sensual, fun and quite a work out, as it coordinates movement between all the body parts, literally using every muscle.

The first thing most people will notice and recognize is the characteristic swaying of the hips, but the Cuban Motion is so much more than that. A wide variety of movements must come together in unison, but once everything clicks and the movement becomes natural, it is an incredibly impressive form of dance.

The trick is to learn each movement individually until it becomes second nature, then put them all together. Since this is a dance, after all, the best way is to start from the bottom up. The feet touch the ground first with the ball of the foot, followed by the heel so the foot is flat on the floor. The feet alternate in this manner: Ball, heelball, heel. Meanwhile, the knees bend and straighten naturally. As the heel is up, the knee of that leg is bent, when the heel comes down, that leg is straightened. Similar to the motion of riding a bicycle, but without raising the feet very far from the floor. Also like riding a bike, the hips sway in rhythm with the rising and falling heel. The weight of the body shifts from one foot to the other as the foot is flat on the floor. All of this movement is completely isolated from the rest of the body, which has its own movements.

The entire upper torso remains upright, as if the upper half of your body doesnt know what the lower half is doing. The rib cage, while keeping erect, moves from side to side in opposition to the hips. As the right hip comes up, the rib cage shifts laterally to the right, as the left hip comes up, the cage shifts laterally to the left. The shoulders shift up, matching the hip movement, while the arms remain relaxed and held in an outward position, giving the illusion that the arms are unaffected by the movement of the center torso.

Start off practicing each movement, then start combining the movements from the footwork up. When you have everything together, practice to slow music, then increase speed. Throughout it all your body must be relaxed.

Eventually, the different areas of the body will start moving together. When all of this comes naturally to you, you can incorporate the Cuban Movement into any Latin dance step " and you will look and feel like a pro!

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