Salsa > Hip Motion : Salsa vs Latin Rhumba

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by rickyT, Oct 28, 2003.

  1. SwingBean

    SwingBean New Member

    Okay, so back to hip motion: I think (and jump in here please 'cause this is really a question) that club dancers move their hips differently than "classically" trained dancers. It seems to me that club dancers are less formal or strict about the motion and there are as many styles as there are dancers.

    My instructor has broken Latin hip motion (starts with the feet and knees) into 3 parts (this is lower body only--we haven't gotten to the ribs, etc yet :) ) and I'll post this if I can figure out how to write it succinctly.

    And, if I understood him correctly, you practice the same motion for rumba, salsa, cha-cha, etc., but it looks different in the different dances because at faster tempos you can't do all the parts of the motion while at slow tempos it can be very exaggerated. You can also vary the look by making parts of the motion staccato. What an interesting technique to work on!
  2. tj

    tj New Member

    Hey, wow. Thanks for bringing this topic back up. This whole thread was "before-my-time" so to speak... but regarding the hip motion thing, perhaps, between all of us we can come up with particulars regarding this?

    Personally, I don't pay much attention to details like this. I've taken classes where they break down salsa hip action in fine detail, but I have found that it's not for me as I'm more into the social aspects than what my hip action looks like.

    Anyone else have some points about the differences?
  3. squirrel

    squirrel New Member

    My hips move naturally while I step... I do not force the in any way! :)

    But the question was very good!

  4. SwingBean

    SwingBean New Member

    Hi Squirrel --thanks for your reply.

    So I assume you are a club dancer--not professionally trained? I've seen many excellent club dancers but none that have that sharp rotation of hip and knee that the pros work so hard to get. I'm wondering if the difference is intentional?
  5. dTas

    dTas New Member

    wow! how is it that i totally missed this thread! now that i'm all caught up... it was an exciting 3 pages... i'd like to add to the hip motion deal. :D

    i use the same "trained" hip motion in all my dances that require "cuban" motion. it took me a long time to learn this but now that i've learned it-it seems the most "natural" way to get things done.

    not too long ago i obtained a "salsa action" DVD that taught the hip action as a totally different motion that what i was trained to do. in a nutshell -

    instead of using the hips to help you move into your next step it used the hips as a "display". not aiding the body to move at all but forcing the body out away from "the center" to create a "look".

    when the instructor did it, it looked nice, but totally out of control. but then i had to realize that Salsa is a "social" dance. the use of "frame" is less than in formal ballroom. the leads are more subtle and can be left open to individual interpretation and style.

    when i move my hip its to help me lead. but that is not neccessarily needed for Salsa. the form is so free that the strict "ballroom" way of leading and following do not always apply.

    that doesn't mean i throw my style of cuban motion out the window when i dance salsa... i just appreciate that there are other styles out there and understand why they exist.
  6. SwingBean

    SwingBean New Member

    Haha--yes, it has been exciting!

    Thanks for your post. I'm curious about this issue because I observe so many different styles and because my social dance teacher says I'm doing the motion "wrong" when I use my ballroom training and vice versa! Your comments on using the motion to lead are intriguing. Could you elaborate on this?
  7. dTas

    dTas New Member

    its all connected... my cuban motion helps me move before i begin a motino my hip begins the movement, my shoulder reacts, my torsoe reacts thus my whole body indicates the direction of my motion before i actually go there.

    all of this indicates to the follow which way the action is going to go before the transfer of weight happens. makes it much easier to follow.

    my partner and i do an exercise every now and then to help each other read cuban motion...

    1) stand in closed position, feel shoulder width apart, follow closes eyes
    2) leader slowly moves using cuban motion, shifting weight
    3) follow should feel each hip motion and be able to react accordingly.
    4) the leader varies the speed and the follow should feel it.

    the leader can also disconnect by letting go of the follow and the follow puts hands on the leaders shoulders. the follow should feel when the leader is moving the hips and move the following hips accordingly.
  8. Pebbles

    Pebbles New Member

    A couple of things: the ballroom hip motion is tied to the weight shift, and the motion often has a twisting movement. There are probably other differences but those two seemed more apparent. Then again, there are quite a few different salsa styles, and some dancers use ballroom techniques. If you look at them, the two hip motions are the same. I think the question isn’t so much if there is a right or wrong way to move the hips in salsa. It’s fine as long as it looks and feels natural.
  9. squirrel

    squirrel New Member

    Indeed I am a club dancer and instructor, and since I do not do ballroom I do not see the reason why I should force myself to attain such a hip movement.

    Besides, I've never seen a Cuban or Puerto Rican (club dancer) do it... :)

    I need to work on my spins though... :(
  10. alvaro

    alvaro New Member

    hi!, interesting thread.

    I know nothing about ballroom, so i cannot compare its hip motion with anything else .... but my two cents:

    i dont think there exists something called 'salsa hip motion' (nor 'cuban hip motion', for that matter).

    If it feels good and looks good then it's ok for salsa. If i look at the cuban girls dancing some of them move the hips the same way ... but not all of them, and they don't do it the same way all the time.

    I'm sorry if i can't really explain what i'm thinking. Maybe that even if you can break down the moves of some dancers (and of course it will be great if you learn them), trying to learn the hip movement for salsa is a bad mindframe.

    P.D. I've only danced with one girl with a ballroom background (that i know of - she teaches ballroom), her basic step and hip movement was elegant and beautiful .. but i dont know if it was borrowed from ballroom or just influenced by it. Besides, it looked absolutely great for mambo but wouldn't have looked so good for casino.
  11. jhb

    jhb New Member


    Wow, what a thread!

    One thing that I think has not always been made clear, here and elsewhere, is the distinction between ballroom rumba and real rumba (ie, guaguancó, etc...).

    Mambo the dance did evolve from (or at least, owes a lot to) the various forms of rumba that preceded it. I don't think there can be any doubt whatsoever in that.

    The ballroom dance they call "rumba", however, is another story entirely. It's really a misnomer for one. Some say it is derived from the son. It shares very similar timing with the Mambo (the old Cuban mambo), but past that, I would not even consider them at all the same dance. Either way, ballroom rumba has little to do with either the spirit or the feel of real rumba, or of son and mambo for that matter. So when somebody says "since salsa evolved from mambo, and mambo from rumba, learning ballroom rumba might help your salsa motion" I can see why people might take issue with that!

    I think that's where a lot of the arguments and confusion in this threads originally stem from. One person talking about ballroom rumba and it is not the parent of mambo, the other talking about cuban Rumba and saying it is the parent of mambo. In essence, they are both right!

    Anyway, I really would never suggest anybody look at ballroom dancing for much insight into the movements behind afro-cuban derived dances. By ballroom's very nature, it takes another dance and "molds" it into that stiff ballroom style. Why not find some videos of real rumba, old or new! Or of contemporary cuban dance!
  12. dTas

    dTas New Member

    i think of it this way...

    imagine walking up a hill slowly, or go and walk up a hill, either forwards or backwards... what do your hips do?

    be sure to go slowly so that you can feel the movement of your hips and the transfer of weight. one step at a time.

    that to me is a natural hip action and i feel best ballroom cuban motion best resembles this style.
  13. jhb

    jhb New Member

    Fair enough. I suppose in the end in comes down to personal style and preference!

    I suppose it depends on what you are going for in your dancing. If you come from the ballroom school, you'll have a different feel for the dance, and a different style than if you come from the cuban school (ie, the 'street' dances, mambo and rumba styling).
  14. delamusica

    delamusica Active Member

    Re: Rumba

    Ok, anyone who thinks that ballroom rumba is stiff obviously hasn't seen anyone good do it . . .

    I use almost the exact same motion for int'l style ballroom rumba as I do in the salsa clubs, and many a salsero has complimented my hip motion. The posture for the two dances is slightly different and that does have a small effect on the way the hips move, and salsa obviously requires faster execution of the movements, but the motion is achieved through weight changes no matter which style you're dancing - the hip motion for both is fundamentally the same.
  15. Pebbles

    Pebbles New Member

    Re: Rumba

    I actually think that is THE difference. If your hip motion is achieved through the weight change, then you are probably doing it the ballroom style. It can look quite nice and there's nothing wrong with it, but I don't think it is the same as hip motions in real latin dances (i.e. not ballroom converted)
  16. dTas

    dTas New Member

    one thing i like about ballroom hip action is if you take a picture of it at any time the body looks balanced and well positioned.

    i'm not saying this because i like having my picture taken... it just indicates to me that at all times the body is in balance. not only when a pose of some sort is made.

    i've seen photos of dancers where they're hips are WAY OUT away from their body and they look "odd" or just plain BAD. that tells me that something went wrong in their technique and they're out of position or off balance (their center isn't where it should be).
  17. Kindra

    Kindra New Member

    I agree with this sentiment ENTIRELY.

    I would like to add that in conjunction with looking well balanced and positioned...hip action must also look relaxed, natural and easy....which is not an easy combination to master.
  18. vey

    vey New Member

    Re: Rumba

    Thank you jhb for mentioning it I fully agree with you:!: :!: :!: :!: :!: :!:

    And while majority of people have an idea of what ballroom rumba looks like, very few (in my experience) know about cuban rumba.
    The only video I found is here:
  19. jhb

    jhb New Member

    That's very true. I think that's because they are "trying too hard" to put the hip movement into salsa. Really, it's the same hip movement as you make (especially women) when you walk. There is no need to overdo it. People really overblow it with this idea of "Cuban motion".

    The basic hip movement is obviously very similar between ballroom rumba and salsa. Where I find fault with the application ballroom rumba to salsa is the "baggage" that comes along with the ballroom rumba style. To me, it really does not fit with salsa. If you want to learn the technique as it applies to salsa, I would again still say, learn it from the best. Watch good salsa dancers, mambo dancers, or watch people dance real rumba.
  20. delamusica

    delamusica Active Member

    Re: Rumba

    How is it possible to move your hips without shifting your weight? Even if it's just shifting your weight to a different part of the foot instead of from one foot to the other, you can't move your hips around without changing your weight placement. It's just not physically possible.

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