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Cuban Motion: Bad Habits Worth Replacing

Last time, I explained some of the fundamental skills we needed to practice and master to give our hips new power to rock and roll with the music. But maybe you tried my suggestions, and something just didn’t feel right. After all, what makes sense to me isn’t guaranteed to work for you, right?

If this sounds like you, or you just want to keep yourself from perfecting a bad habit, this is my 5 most common bad habits we can develop, plus a little clarification on what to do instead.

  1. Never straighten both knees at once. Unless you are making some unusual styling moves, straightening one knee before you bend the other will cause you to bob up and down like a float in the ocean. Instead, the opposite knee must begin to bend AT THE SAME TIME as the first knee straightening. This means you will temporarily have two bent knees, in order to keep your movement smooth and low to the ground.
  2. Avoid straightening the knee until your weight is 100% over it. It just doesn’t feel normal to step on a bent knee – it certainly isn’t how we learned to walk. But straightening the knee early makes it a lot harder to capture that natural hip rotation. All our energy dissipates before it can move our hips.
  3. Keep the heels down. With each step we take, we must keep the heels as low to the ground as possible. If we don’t, straightening the knees may simply push our heels down rather then cause hip rotation. If we aren’t used to moving our hips, our body will try to transfer the energy somewhere else – don’t give it anywhere to go!
  4. DON’T close your feet! When we are told to ‘close our feet’, the temptation is to close to a parallel position, making hip rotation more difficult. Instead, replace this phrase with ‘close your HEELS’. This helps keep the toes turned out and the hips flexible.
  5. If it hurts, don’t do it. This is the bottom line: No matter what I or anyone else tells you, your health comes first. There are ways to compensate for any physical difficulty you encounter, but please, don’t damage yourself further in the interests of ‘perfect’ technique! You have only one body, and dance isn’t everything.

Now that we’ve gotten the bad habits out of the way, time to delve a little deeper, into what experienced dancers do to create truly natural Cuban motion. See you next week!

About the Author

Ian Crewe has been dancing ballroom for almost 20 years, and has a Licentiate in American smooth and rhythm. His passion for dance and his endless seeking for ways to reach new audiences eventually led him to blogging and the World Wide Web. Ian currently teaches at the Joy of Dance Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada.

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