Cuban son is a traditional style of music and dance from Cuba and is one of the precursors of salsa.
What are the essential steps of Cuban Son?
As I mentioned in my post on Casino dance, one of the Cuban son’s critical characteristics is the dance’s circular motion. This circular motion is found in other types of dance, like Rueda de casino. Here is an example of Cuban son dance steps (click on the image to watch the video). The dancers should coordinate their steps on each measure of the Cuban son. A measure is made of 8 beats, and the fifth beat is the most important one. It provides the tempo the dancer must follow. For a man, the 5th beat is linked to his left foot, while the first beat is danced on his right foot. For ladies, it’s the reverse.
Another step that is very typical of Cuban son is the walking step, where the dancers walk the full measure forward, backward, or sideways. The key to that step is to use the movement of your hips, arms, and shoulders while you move. Simple as a concept, often hard to execute by beginners because many people are used to the salsa steps of moving forward and backward on half-measures.
Key characteristics of Cuban son?
What differentiates Cuban son from other types of dance, like salsa, is the playfulness, figurine-like forms, and proximity of the dancers to each other. If salsa symbolise youth, Cuban son appeals more to the middle-aged and elders. It does not mean Cuban son is dull, slow, or deprived of spiciness—quite the contrary. But the characteristic of that music and dance is to be on the beat, enjoy your partner and treat each other with elegance (show picture son dancer). So it’s common to see Cuban son dancers dressed appropriately in nice trousers, a vest, and a hat.
As I mentioned, many Cuban son’s steps require dance partners to sync with each other. To achieve that synchronicity, dancers tend to dance closely.
Some of my students initially needed help understanding why they should dance closely with their partners. When they leave too big of a distance between each other, they often lose their steps and end up out of sync with each other. But in essence, the man should lead his dance partner clearly.
The most effective way to learn Cuban son
Recognizing the patterns of Cuban son music is essential if you want to learn how to dance it correctly. One key instrument you can use to that effect is the clave since it’s present in every son song. Once you recognize the patterns, then you can start applying the steps. With just five steps, you can begin to enjoy dancing since you can use any variation of these steps. Then as you grow in confidence, you can add more steps. Cuban son dance style relies heavily on the coordination between shoulders, hips, and feet. Another aspect of this dance is its circular motion which, in essence, is the characteristic of many Cuban dances such as casino Rueda or Cuban salsa.
Walking cuban son dance step
Watch how to dance Cuban son
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