How to Dance Cumbias


Cumbia is a folk dance and musical style that originated among Colombian slaves centuries ago and has become popular across various Latin American countries, like Mexico, Peru and Panama. It can be simple to learn but, like most dances, somewhat difficult to master. Being by learning the basic steps of cumbia.

  • Get the rhythm. Cumbia has a basic 4/4 rhythm, so it's helpful to count down as you're learning the steps. As you practice the following steps, count out "One-Two-Three-Four," and then again: "One-Two-Three-Four." That's the rhythm.

  • Learn the steps. Start in a neutral position with both feet aligned. Move the right foot behind you. Keep your left foot in place. Return your right foot to a neutral position. Take a quick pause while you shift your weight from the left to the right. Now reverse the steps, this time starting with your left foot. Practice the steps several times until you can do them quickly and without thinking.

  • Pivot. Once you master the basic steps of cumbia, introduce the pivot, which will give the dance a bit more style. As you step back with your right foot to start the dance, rotate about 45 degrees on your left foot, which should be still. Then reverse it, pivoting with your right foot while you step back with your left. That's the pivot.

  • Mind your arms. Keep your elbows at mid-torso and your arms out in front of you. Women can bend their wrists, which will add a feminine flourish to the dance. Then move your arms around in circles with the music, making sure to keep them between your hips and shoulders.

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