Cuban salsa moves are some of the most dazzling and free-spirited moves of salsa dances. But to master them, you need to undergo a few stages. Ready?
To learn Cuban salsa moves, you must first know what music to listen to and how to listen to them. Did you know that Rumba was one of the dances that make up Cuban salsa?
I speak about Rumba because the first tip to master the dance is to listen to the right type of music according to your level.
Rumba is the god of Cuban salsa moves
This dance style originated in the mid-18th century and was mainly confined to dark skin Cubans. It took the sixties revolution to see it become one of the flagships of Cuban culture. The key to rumba is its use of the clave. The instrument is related to your feet; therefore, your dance teachers will tell you to listen to the clave in salsa songs. That’s all great, but how can you identify it in salsa when; this music style comprises so many different instruments?
The remedy for this is rumba because it exclusively uses clave and just a few other instruments. Then, once you have trained your ears well enough, switching to pure salsa music becomes more effortless. Lastly, another advantage of rumba is that you can learn salsa moves with this dance.
Rumba steps for Cuban salsa moves (nbr 1)
Move number 1
Simultaneously you need to use your hips to:
– Shift your weight on one leg
– Use your opposite arm and shoulder blade to create a perfect balance
– Then come back to centre. On the second measure of the basic step you do the same motion with the opposite leg.
2nd Cuban salsa style step (nbr 2):
This step adopts rumba moves on the 5 to 7 beats, where the dancers jump backward with one leg behind the other multiple times.
Move number 2
From Rumba, we move to what is considered the father of Cuban salsa, namely Cuban Son.
Unlike the former, which is more a chase between a man and a woman, where the man does everything to “earn” the lady, Son is more a ballroom type of dance. Couples dance close to each other in coordinated, circular, or lateral steps, with sudden stops. We can therefore consider Son as the basis of Cuban salsa moves.
1st Cuban salsa move that borrows from Son (nbr 3):
I mentioned that the clave is an essential instrument for the dancer of Cuban salsa. This is also one of the main instruments in Son. Check out my posts and training on the clave for more. Some son moves mimic the clave very closely and are, therefore, an essential training tool for dancers.
As the man moves forward, the woman goes back. She can move forward at the end of the steps as the man steps back.
Move number 3
2nd Cuban salsa step from Son (nbr 4):
Another of the Cuban salsa moves that borrow from Son is this lateral step. It’s identical to the previous one, only that it’s done laterally with a stop on the 8 counts and is followed by a reverse direction to the other side. Both partners move in the same direction. The male uses his left foot on the count of 1 if they move to the left (the lady uses her opposite foot) and the right foot if he goes to the right. Partners should dance closely together and use both their hips and shoulders.
Move number 4
3rd Cuban salsa step from Son (nbr 5):
I mentioned that Son is danced laterally but also in a circular way. That motion is one of the main characteristics of Cuban salsa; unlike other types of salsa, such as New York or Los Angeles styles, which tend to be more linear.
Move number 5
This move implies that men and women move together. As the man crosses his right leg with his left one, he goes backward and then comes back forward after executing what looks like a circle. The lady moves in synchronization with him.
From Rumba and Son we can get to more Cuban salsa moves.
4th Cuban salsa step from Son (nbr 6):
Partners dance in a static way on this move. Most of the work is done with the hips and shoulders. This step is usually done when the dancers want to appreciate their time together. It’s pretty simple, though. The trick is to do it on the beat.
Move number 6
A classic of salsa Cuban style (nbr 7):
On the first beat, both partners move backward and then to the center on (3). Next, they make the same motion on the other leg on the 5th beat while using the palm of their hands to push their partner away from each other gently. This move is generally used to initiate turn patterns.
Move number 7
Putting all these Cuban salsa moves together
With these seven simple Cuban salsa moves, we can start to play. For example, we could make the following patterns of steps:
Moves: Numbers 6, 3, 5, 4, 1 and 7
If you can remember these basic steps and dance them to the beat, you will have just created a dance pattern that will impress your partners. Later, you can add more moves, but the principle will remain the same.
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