"Cuban Motion Demystified, Parte Dos"

By Joe Donato,
all rights reserved © 2011


The act of Demystifying Cuban Motion is a never-ending process. I want to dive right in and dispel some myths about this strange phenomena.  


Myth #1 – “You must have Latin in your blood to be able to dance like that”.   Yes, I have Latin blood in me, and yes, I have a very strong rhythm, but I believe it’s because I’ve been playing the drums since I was 12. And I didn’t actually have strong rhythm until I was about 20. And four years ago, when I started dancing, I had ZERO Cuban motion. But all human beings have the same muscular structure and are governed by the same laws of physics. Maybe some of our brains are wired differently, but that is only one factor. I’ve had many Latin students who never danced before and have the same "shortcomings" as all my other students.   I had a student once who was a dentist. He also did not have a trace of Latin blood in him. He and his wife took vacations to Aruba every year and they were both determined to join the Salsa crowds before next year’s trip. But for the past 20 years he was focusing on raising kids, not moving his hips like a Cuban. He made a living standing next to a chair and twisting to the left. When it came time to dance, he could do the first half of a box with great hip movement, and then flailed on the 2nd half. I told him that if he just spent a few minutes a day on the other side of his patients chair, he would condition the other side of his body to twist at the hips equally. It’s nurture, not nature.  


Myth #2 – When dancing Latin dances, you have to move your hips from side to side.   They’re actually moving up and down and forward and backward, and that happens as a bi-product of what you do with your feet and knees. They only look like they’re moving from side to side because of the shape of the female body. Which leads me to my next myth...  


Myth #3 – If I don’t look like Shakira, or Beyonce, or Patrick Swayze, I must be doing something wrong.   First off, Men use the same exact muscles as women to do their Cuban motion. It’s just that the women have larger hips and a smaller waist, so it doesn’t take being stranded on a desert island with six other castaways to notice them. But focusing on what it looks like will not help you. The joy of dancing is not in looking the part. It’s in feeling the part. You should be feeling the weight shift through your hips from one foot to the other. That’s the purpose of Cuban motion.  


Myth #4 – The speed of Latin dances like Cha Cha, Salsa and Merengue, only make it more difficult to do the hip motion.   It’s actually the other way around. The only way you can comfortably do these dances, is to shift the weight through your hips. If you remember to keep your feet really close together, you are encouraging your body to use your hips. If you think about moving faster, odds are you will spread your feet further apart, and that is what makes the dance more difficult. Bringing your feet closer together encourages the shifting of weight through your hips, while at the same time, shortening the distance you have to travel with each step. It’s a unique discipline, which brings me to my last myth…  


Myth #5 – This is going to take YEARS! No it won’t. It only feels that way at first. What feels like it will take years, in reality, may only take a few months. And what feels like it will take several months, will in reality, probably only take a few weeks. And what feels like it will take hours to do, will in actuality probably only take 10 – 15 minutes. If you don’t believe me, come to one of my classes, commit to Ten minutes of devoted time to learning something new, and I will prove it to you.


The fact about ALL learning, is that you don’t see progress right away. But if you commit to the process, I guarantee you that you will wake up one day and “discover” that you have been transformed.  


Don't know what "Cuban Motion" is? Check out “Cuban Motion Demystified, part 1!


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