It originates from the very north of South America and is truly sensual. Follow this article to learn the basic steps to dancing the famous Cumbia.

Cumbia Dance Steps

Ever wondered what’s the right way to move your body and feet to the sensual rhythm of cumbia? A dance customarily linked to the music of ‘yoruba’ and several traditional West African assortments, cumbia equips dancers to be the stars on every dance floor they touch. Cumbia dance moves emanated during the Spanish colonization in popular South American regions such as Colombia and Panama, where they were essentially accompanied with drums and claves. Cumbia was observed as a street-style dance and the upper classes were quick to label the dance moves as “too vulgar”. Irrespective of the negative acclaim this dance has received in the past, today, it stands as one of the most popular and vibrant dance all over the world. Cumbia dance steps are increasingly being taught in the USA and various other countries outside. Although, widely recognized for its simple orchestration and execution, cumbia still ranks as one of the most ‘fun-to-dance’ dances. So what are you waiting for? Get into some comfortable clothing and shoes, blast your stereo with great cumbia music, grab your dancing partner and read this article to start dancing the cumbia!
Basic Cumbia Dance Steps
  • Join your feet together.
  • Step back with your right foot and slightly pivot on your left foot in such a way that the right foot curls behind your left foot at a shoulder arm’s width.  
  • Step in place with your left foot.
  • Bring your right foot beside your left and gently pause for a beat.
  • Move your left foot back as you do a basic cumbia dance step and pivot on your right foot as you enthusiastically groove to the beats.
  • Then repeat the same step in the opposite direction. Place your left foot about a shoulder's width behind your right foot and a little to the side.
  • Step in place with your right foot.
  • Draw your left foot closer to your right and pause a beat.
  • The part where the left and right feet meet with each other is usually referred to as the "neutral" position”. These steps are numbered to make it easier for you to count while doing the cumbia dance steps. Mouth 1 for your right foot, 2 for the left foot and 3 again for the right foot and 4 for the neutral position.
  • When you shift the steps to the other side (left to right to left to neutral), set the counts from 5-8.
  • Do not forget to pause before changing sides. After the 1-4 count, pause and take a deep breath and then ignite your dancing shoes to the 5-8 counts.
  • As you move to the rhythmic cumbia beats, turn and sway your entire torso from side to side.
  • Maintain a jovial demeanour as you do so.
  • When you place your left foot behind the right, turn your body to let your left shoulder face the centre of the dance floor.
  • Face front as your feet go together, then turn your right shoulder to the middle of the room as you step back with your left foot.
  • Ensure that your arms are bending naturally while dancing the cumbia. Follow the cumbia dance steps with minimal pressure.
  • Don’t let your dear arms hang loosely at your sides.
  • Men and women must bend their elbows and bring them a little higher than the waist. While women tilt their wrists to accentuate the feminine touch of the cumbia dance, men keep their arms firm and strong.
  • Set your hands in swift and small circular motion and never go beyond your waist or your shoulder. Move forward and back throughout.
  • Pivot is a very important element in these cumbia dance steps. As you dance, and take a step back with either leg, pivot your foot by turning it on a slight angle.
  • Face diagonally and turn your entire body so as to not gaze straight ahead of you.
  • Pivot on each pause or rather, pivot during the 1, 4, 5 and 8 counts.
  • Repeat all these steps and gradually increase your speed until your movements finally coincide with the tempo of the music.

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