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


Rumba draws its roots from Cuba, Latin America and the Caribbean, which are blends of African and Spanish influences.  Over time, the term "Rumba" grew to include generically several dance forms and music styles.  Current Ballroom Rumba comes from one of the slower versions. In the International style, the dance is spelled "Rhumba" and is pronounced with an emphasis on the RHUm-ba sound.  The American version spells the dance "Rumba." Why?  Because we can't do it the same way the Brits do. :))

Band director, Xavier Cugat, is credited with introducing Rumba to America in the late 1920's.  Its popularity grew in the 30's and 40's and then was standardized as a ballroom dance in the mid-1950's.

Dance Characteristics:

Rumba is sometimes called the "dance of love", distinguished by its romantic feel.  Perhaps its most important characteristic is the continuous, flowing Cuban Motion which give Rumba its sensual look.

Musical Information:

Time Signature: 4/4
Tempo: 32 - 36 mpm (128-144)
Count: SQQ, SQQ
Beat Value: 2-1-1
Counting Beats and Bars: 1234, 2234, 3234, 4234 etc.


Footwork is ball-flat throughout, toes turned out, feet kept in contact with the floor and with downward pressure.  Stretch the movement on the "slow" for two full counts.  Use body movement  to interpret the slow romance of the music.

Technical Tips:

Stand with a forward poise to create connection, maintain the same height throughout, and keep head up and shoulders relaxed.  Do not tilt the shoulders from side- to-side.  Take small steps, lead and follow from the center of the body, use compression and tension, and complement the music with the free arm.

Use proper Cuban motion with knee veer, straightening the standing leg, keeping the rib cage up, and moving in opposite direction to the hips.

Some of My Favorite Rumba Songs:

1. "Sign Your Name" by Offshore Orchestra on Ballroom Confisery, Vol. 3
2. "Beautiful Maria of My Soul" by Los Lobos on Mambo Kings Soundtrack
3. "Amado Mio" by Pink Martini on Sympathique

Bronze Syllabus Figures:

1. Side Basic
2. 5th Position Breaks
3. Box Step
4. Cross Body Lead
5. Outside Partner
6. Slow Underarm Turn
7. Open Break with Underarm Turn
8. Crossover Break (New Yorker)
9. Crossover and Side Breaks
10. Open Rumba Walks
11. Shoulder Check
12. Cradle Circle
13. Quick Underarm Turn and Loop
14. Open Circular Walks
15. Spot Turn Combination 

Variations for Social Dancing:

Many Rhythm figures can be danced in multiple dances, often by just changing the count.  Sometimes the entrance into or exit from the figure needs to be modified.

From Cha Cha:

From Bolero:
Check and Circular Walk
Romantic Sways
Hip Twist and Spin

From Mambo:
Side Breaks
Crossover Break and Walk Around Turn
Crossbody Lead with Inside Turn
Back Spot Turn

From Samba:
Extended Box