Description of the Rumba
Rumba is universally recognized as the dance of love. It is danced to slow, sensual music with a Latin beat and features a hip action known as “Cuban Motion". Rumba is derived from the Afro-Caribbean dance “Son” and has been popular in this country as a ballroom dance since the 1930’s.
Rumba is sometimes known as the ‘Latin Waltz’, because many of the figures in Waltz can also be danced in the Rumba, using Rumba timing and Cuban hip action. Rumba is danced to music in 4/4 time and the count of the steps is slow-quick-quick.
Internationally, Rumba and Cha Cha feature entirely different steps (no box steps in this Rumba!) and figures, many done in open position.
Characteristics of the Rumba
Rumba is often called the “dance of love”, distinguished by it’s romantic feel. It is a non-progressive dance with continuous, flowing Cuban motion which gives Rumba its sensual look. The rumba frame is a typical Rhythm frame.
Time signature – 4/4
Tempo – 32-36 measures per minute
Timing – SQQ
Beat value is 2-1-1
Ballroom rumba is a sensual dance to romantic music. It evolved from “Son” and “Danzon” which comes from Cuba. “Son” is a modified version of Cuban rumba along with other African influences. Cuban rumba is a folkloric dance performed to a fiery orchestra of drums and came to Cuba in the 16th century with the black slaves from Africa. This folk dance is a sex pantomime danced fast with exaggerated hip movements and with a sensually aggressive attitude on the part of the man who plays the part of the rooster and a defensive attitude on the part of the woman as the coquettish hen.
“Son” music began to take shape in the latter half of the 19th century in Cuba’s Oriente province. The “Son” dance is danced by middle class Cubans. It is slower and more conservative and refined than Cuban Rumba. The hip movements are less exaggerated than Cuban rumba. The wealthy Cuban society did not dance Cuban rumba but danced a slower Danzon where very small steps are taken, women producing a subtle tilting of the hips by the bending and straightening of the knees.
“Danzon” is the freer more spontaneous version of “Danza” which came to Cuba in the 18th century as “Contradanza” from Spain which came from “Contredanse” at the French Court in the 17th century. It has the typical instruments of Chamber music – violins etc with the addition of African drums.
Lew Quinn and Joan Sawyer introduced “Son” to Americans in 1913 then by Emil Coleman in 1923 and Benito Collada in 1925 but it did not take off. At some point “Son” was renamed to “Rumba”. In the late 1920’s Xavier Cugat, a famous orchestra leader popularized Rumba music and then “The Peanut Vendor” by Don Azpiazu’s Havana Casino Orchestra was released in 1930 which became a hit as the new dance craze. Pierre Lavelle introduced “Rumba” to Europe which has evolved to today’s “Ballroom Rumba” in the mid 1950’s.