Rumba

April 17th, 2010

Rumba has its origin with the African slaves imported into Cuba, whose dances, after having worked all day barefoot in the cotton fields, emphasized the movements of the body rather than the feet. The tune was considered less important than the complex cross-rhythms which were played on percussion made of such things as pots, spoons and bottles. Rumba further evolved in Havanna in the 19th century and it is here where the name ‘Rumba’ possibly came from when the term ‘rumboso orquestra’ was used for a dance band in 1807.
The rural form of the Rumba in Cuba was described as a pantomime of barnyard animals, and was an exhibition rather than a participation dance. Keeping steady level shoulders while dancing was possibly derived from the way the slaves moved while carrying heavy loads. The step called the ‘Cucaracha’ was stomping on cockroaches. The ‘Spot Turn’ was walking around the rim of a cart wheel.
The Rumba was introduced into the USA in the 1930’s. With only a transfer of weight from one foot to the other on beat 1 of each bar, and the absence of an actual step on this beat, the dance developed a very sensual character. Beat 1 is a strong beat of the music, but all that moves on that beat are the hips, so the music emphasises the dancing of the hips. This together with the slow tempo of the music makes the dance very romantic and a favourite dance of Marie-Louise and Garreth. They enjoy telling the story of love and romance whilst playing on the fundamental snapping and melting characteristics of the dance.

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