How to Cumbia Dance 101: Moves for Beginners

May 29, 2017

Cumbia DanceCumbia is one of the most exciting dance forms in the world today.

Originally created by African Slaves brought to the Americas, today, cumbia can be found all over the world.

If you travel to places like Colombia, Mexico, and Argentina, you’ll see different versions of the dance in action.

Wouldn’t it be great to join in? Here’s how.

First Steps

The basic movement of cumbia dance begins with your feet parallel, with you standing straight up.

First, move your right foot behind your left foot.

It should be angled at about 45 degrees, while your right foot will remain pointed straight forward.

Next, pull your left foot back to its original place, so that your feet are parallel again.

Repeat this step, but reverse the sides.

That means left foot behind right, and then back to parallel.

Basic cumbia dance requires you to do this throughout the song.

But Wait, What’s the Rhythm?

Good question. Now that you know the basic foot movement, you should know the rhythm of cumbia music.

Cumbia music follows a 4/4 beat, and your steps should be 1-2-3-4.

This sounds straightforward, and it is.

However, it’s important to keep that step pattern in mind when you’re on the dance floor.

Cumbia music often has interesting and complex drum beats that don’t follow the 1-2-3-4 pattern.

That can lead to amazing choreography.

But it can also be overwhelming.

So, don’t get into a routine of following the simple patterns of the music, or you might get confused.

Keep it easy on yourself in the beginning.

Cumbia Body Movement

Cumbia dance is associated with happy music.

That means your moves on the dance floor should reflect a positive mood.

You should feel happy while you dance cumbia.

Smile and laugh, maybe even let out a shout.

Moving your body while you step is an important part of showing your happiness.

Bend your arms at the elbow and swing them in motion with your feet as you take your steps.

Pivot on your back step to add a little flair to your movement.

Twist your upper body around while you move, too.

And, keep the hips moving.

Dancing Cumbia with a Partner

Cumbia at its best is done in pairs.

As you become more advanced dancing cumbia, you will be able to add a partner to your routine.

The basic moves for cumbia dance pairs are similar to solo dancing.

Face your partner and hold hands, about one foot apart.

Together, make the same basic steps your make while alone.

You pull your right foot back, while they pull their right foot back.

In this way, you should mirror the dance moves of your partner.

Get Dancin’

With some drive, you can learn the basic cumbia dance moves in no time.

It’s a fun dance that you can use all over the Americas, from parts of the U.S. through Patagonia.

Cumbia dance is supposed to be happy, so you should enjoy it!

That means smiling and laughing, feeling the beats move through you.

You might even start to like cumbia music, too.

Good luck!

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