Used by Permission and adapted from the Dance Vision International Dance Association - American Style Rhythm Bronze Manual (MarB04).

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Ballroom Dance Info

Dance Goals

Ballroom and Social Dance



Mambo developed from the Cuban Danzon and was influenced by Cuban Haitians and American Jazz.  Perez Prado is credited with introducing Mambo to the Havana nightlife in 1943.  Other musicians associated with popularizing the dance music are Tito Rodriguez, Tito Puente, and Xavier Cugat. 

Dance Characteristics:

Mambo is fast and spicy with strong Cuban Motion, staccato movement and expression of rhythm through the body.  The dancer will "hold" on count 1 and "Break on Two".  The dance features many swivels and spins.
Mambo and Salsa figures are fully interchangable.

Musical Information:

Time Signature: 4/4
Tempo (exams & comps): 47 - 51 mpm; 188 - 204 bpm
Count: 234(1), 234(1)
Beat Value: 1-1-2
Alternative Teaching Count: 234(5), 678(1)
or Hold -2-3-4 or Quick, Quick, Pause


Ball Flat throughout except:
On back breaks, keep the weight forward by using mostly the ball.  The heel may lightly touch down with very little or no weight. Keep feet in contact with the floor and toes slightly turned out.

Mambo Technical Tips:

Make steps strong and striking.  Use strong hip and rib action on the downbeat of 1 (even though no weight change happens on 1).

General Technical Tips:

Create connection with forward poise.  Maintain the same height throughout and avoid tilting shoulders side to side. Use compression and tension from the center of the body. Take small steps.  Use the free arm in a natural relaxed motion to complement the music and body movement.

 Some of My Favorite Mambo Songs:

1. "Donde Esta Yolanda" by Pink Martini on Sympathique
2. "Mambo #5" by Lou Bega on A Little Bit of Mambo
3. "Mambo Italiano" by Dean Martin on The Essential DM

Bronze Syllabus Figures:

Note:  Many figures begin with a Cross Body Lead but they may be danced without this entrance.

1. Forward and Back Basic

2. Side Breaks

3. Side Breaks and Cross

4. Cross Body Lead

5. Open break with Underarm Turn

6. Crossover Break with Walk Around

7. Shoulder Check

8. Promenade Swivel and Close

9. Alternating Underarm Turns

10. Rueda Basic

11. Cross Body Lead with Inside Turn

12. Back Spot Turn

13. Mambo Twist

14. Forward Spot Turn to Surprise

15. Crossover Swivels and Pullback

Variations for Social Dancing:

Many variations can be used in several dances, usually by changing the count or modifying the entrance into or exit out of the figure.  Here are some examples:

Salsa: All figures are interchangeable in Mambo

Rumba: Fifth Position Breaks, Crossover and Side Breaks, Cradle Circle, Spot Turn Combo

Cha Cha: Butterfly, Cross Body Pullback

Bolero: Check and Circlular Walk

Merengue: Swivels (Straight or Turning), Man's Circle Wrap, Progressive Congo, Man's Duck Wrap