For whatever reason, I’m in a storytelling mood. Do any of my fellow dancers remember the first time they danced the rumba? It’s been called the “dance of love” and “a vertical expression of a horizontal desire”. Originating in Cuba, the rumba is slow, fluid, and sensual. The distinctive hip action is called “Cuban motion”. The interpretation is up to the dancers, but I’ve heard a favorable one is love-hate. That’s my exact relationship with this dance. Sit tight for story time with yours truly. (For the record, I dance rumba in American Rhythm. International is distinctly different and is even slower than American.)
I started ballroom when I was fifteen. Life got in the way, so I had to take an unwilling break. I began dancing consistently when I was eighteen. That’s why I tell people I’ve been dancing for a little over three years when they ask, because I don’t count my actual start-date. It was during my actual start-date that I encountered rumba. I was in Colorado for the summer and took lessons at an Arthur Murray studio in Denver. I was mainly interested in salsa because my crush knew salsa. I had no idea that my teacher would have me doing other dances, too. I knew about the others from DWTS, but preferred watching them over dancing them. That’s how it was with rumba. It was one of my favorites on DWTS. Looking back, one would think I’d be thrilled when my teacher announced we’d be dancing it, but I wasn’t. In fact, I think I balked. I simply could not imagine dancing sexily. My hormones were raging, and my inner actress had a massive case of stage fright. Group class made it worse.
We had huge classes, one big rectangle of students. I remember my horror when the female teacher announced that we were doing rumba. I certainly did not want to try to dance that way with men I didn’t know. No way! Well, I had to suck it up anyway. Now skip forward three years. Even at eighteen, I was not thrilled with the prospect of moving my hips. It was only when I began thinking and wanting a relationship with that I began to understand.
It became an expression of my desire and a way to live it, albeit through acting. To me, a properly done rumba showcases the unspeakable chemistry between a man and woman. It causes the audience to think, not take a cold shower. A rumba can be hushed whispers, an embrace, a reunion, anything you can think of. Should you ever dance rumba, let the music wash over you as you channel all your energy into it.
P.S.: My comments about dancing rumba apply to bolero, but I don’t dance the latter right now. A more experienced student told me that bolero is more sensual than rumba. I don’t know why, but I think so, too. Be on the lookout for another story tomorrow.