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Mastering How to Dance Cumbia – Steps, Songs & Resources

Dance

How to Dance Cumbia
23 Apr, 2024

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This is your ultimate guide to learning how to dance cumbia and immersing yourself in its rhythmic world. From the pulsating beats of traditional songs to the curated list of resources, discover the tools you need to dance cumbia with confidence and flair as we explore its essence.

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What is cumbia dance?

Cumbia is a traditional folk dance from Colombia and has become famous throughout Latin America. It involves a blend of musical and cultural elements from Indigenous Americans, Africans, and Europeans, particularly during the colonial era.

The dance itself is characterized by its rhythmic hip movements and quick footwork. It is a partner dance, typically performed with a lead dancer (usually male) and a follow dancer (usually female).

Steps of cumbia dance

Learning the steps will ease your journey to learn how to dance cumbia:

Back-break basic step

  • Start with your feet together in a relaxed stance.
  • Shift your right foot diagonally behind your left foot at a 45-degree angle, creating a cross position.
  • Take a small step in place with your left foot, adding a quick syncopation to the movement.
  • Move your right foot back to the starting position.
  • Repeat the sequence with the left foot. Shift your left foot diagonally behind your right, take a small step with your right foot, and return your left foot to the starting position.
  • Incorporate a rhythmic sway of the hips and keep your arms relaxed.

Switching between right and left foot

  • To learn how to dance cumbia, it is essential to know that cumbia involves a continuous alternation between the right and left foot. Once you complete the basic step with one foot, smoothly transition to the same sequence with the other foot.
  • This switching creates a flowing and dynamic movement, allowing you to adapt to the rhythm of the music.

Rhythm and timing in cumbia dance

  • Cumbia music typically has a 4/4 time signature, meaning four beats are in each measure. The dance steps should synchronize with the beats of the music.
  • Pay attention to the rhythm and use the basic back-break step to keep up with the music. The dance’s small steps and hip movements add a lively and syncopated feel.
  • Drum patterns often accentuate the rhythm of Cumbia dance, and dancers can emphasize specific beats with their footwork and body movements.
  • Maintain a connection with the music, allowing it to guide the energy and flow of your dance.

Partner dancing in cumbia

Leader and follower roles

Cumbia partner dancing typically has two roles: the leader and the follower. The leader guides the dance while the follower follows the leader’s cues and movements.

Initiate the movements

The leader is responsible for initiating the dance movements. This includes starting with the basic steps, introducing variations, and leading the overall flow of the dance.

Guide the follower through the dance steps

The leader guides the follower through the dance steps by using body movements and changes in weight distribution. Clear communication through these cues is crucial for a smooth and coordinated dance.

Keep time and follow the rhythm of the music

Both the leader and the follower must keep time and follow the rhythm of the cumbia music. This synchronization enhances the aesthetic of the dance and creates a harmonious connection between the partners and the music.

Signal the partner about upcoming moves

Communication is key to how to dance cumbia with a partner. The leader signals the follower about upcoming moves through subtle physical cues, body positioning changes, or hand connection variations. This helps the follower anticipate and respond to the leader’s actions.

Holding hands and maintaining a connection

The partners typically start by facing each other. They link both hands together in the middle, maintaining a comfortable and secure grip. This connection allows for effective communication and smooth transitions between different dance moves.

Mirroring opposite foot movements

In partner dancing, especially cumbia, there is often a mirroring of opposite foot movements. If the leader takes a step with the right foot, the follower may mirror that movement with their left foot. This coordination adds symmetry to the dance and contributes to the overall unity of the partnership.

Recommended cumbia songs for practice

“La Cumbia Cienaguera” by Los Corraleros de Majagual

This song is a classic example of traditional Colombian cumbia. Its steady rhythm and clear beat make it ideal for beginners to practice the basic steps and timing of cumbia dance.

“La Cumbia del Caribe” by Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto

Known for its authentic folk sound, this song features the traditional instruments of cumbia, such as guitars and drums. The tempo is perfect for practicing the footwork and hip movements characteristic of cumbia.

“La Cumbia de los Pobres” by Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto

With its lively tempo and engaging rhythm, this song provides a pace for dancers to practice more advanced steps and turns while still being accessible for those new to the dance.

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Online cumbia classes and resources

Classpop!

Classpop! provides a beginner’s guide to cumbia dancing, offering insights into the history of the dance, its steps, and how to learn it. They emphasize the physical and mental health benefits of dancing and provide resources for self-teaching and professional instruction.

Waldo & Jacqui Solano

Waldo & Jacqui Solano offer online dance classes and have a YouTube channel where they share tutorials, such as “Cumbia Turns with Arm Combination.” Their courses are designed to help you learn cumbia steps and improve your technique.

Latin Street Music & Dancing

Latin Street Music & Dancing channel has virtual cumbia fundamentals classes, where experienced instructors teach the basic cumbia steps, allowing you to learn the dance at your own pace.

DancingFlix

DancingFlix offers diverse dance tutorials, workshops, and lessons, including cumbia, accessible on multiple internet-connected devices through their streaming service.

Other resources

STEEZY Studio, CLI Studios, DancePlug, Dancio, and LearnToDance, are some of the other resources that can solve your query as to how to dance cumbia. Online or in-person classes with experts and top choreographers can help you become a seasoned cumbia dancer.

Conclusion

What is cumbia dance?

Cumbia is a vibrant and soulful partner dance embedded into the heart of Colombian culture.

Steps of cumbia dance

  • The back-break basic step
  • Switching between right and left foot
  • Rhythm and timing in cumbia dance

Partner dancing in cumbia

  • Leader and follower roles
  • ​Initiate the movements
  • ​Guide the follower through the dance steps
  • ​Keep time and follow the rhythm of the music
  • ​Signal the partner about upcoming moves
  • Holding hands and maintaining connection
  • Mirroring opposite foot movements

Recommended cumbia songs for practice

  1. ​”La Cumbia Cienaguera” by Los Corraleros de Majagual
  2. “La Cumbia del Caribe” by Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto
  3. ​”La Cumbia de Los Pobres” by Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto

Online cumbia classes and resources

  • ClassPop!
  • ​Waldo & Jacqui Solano
  • Latin Street Music and Dancing
  • ​Dancingflix
  • ​STEEZY studios
  • ​CLIstudios
  • ​DancePlug
  • ​Dancio
  • ​LearnToDance

FAQs

What is cumbia dance?

Cumbia is the national dance of Colombia performed in pairs, involving a side-to-side motion with a series of quick steps and weight shifts.

Is Cumbia easy to dance to?

Cumbia is a relatively easy dance to learn, especially for beginners. Its steps are straightforward and can often be mastered quickly, even without previous dance experience.

How do you do Cumbia dance step by step?

  • The back-break basic step
  • Switching between right and left foot
  • Rhythm and timing in cumbia dance

What is the dance form of Columbia?

The dance form of Columbia is known as cumbia, a folk dance that usually requires a partner.

What are some popular cumbia songs for practice?

Some of the popular songs include:

  • ​“La Cumbia Cienaguera” by Los Corraleros de Majagual
  • “La Cumbia del Caribe” by Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto
  • “La Cumbia de Los Pobres” by Los Gaiteros de San Jacinto

Is the cumbia dance fast or slow?

Cumbia dance typically has a moderate tempo, characterized by its syncopated rhythms. This makes it neither fast nor slow but rather energetic and flowing, allowing dancers to express the music’s vibrant character through their movements.

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