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If you’ve danced for more than six months, I’m sure you’ve heard the term “Cuban motion” or “Latin motion” many times. Well, what is it and why is it so important?

Cuban motion refers to the continuous movement of the hips in every step. Rumba/Bolero, Cha Cha, and Mambo are full of Cuban motion, while Jive/Swing, Samba, and Paso Doble have little or none. Cuban motion is what makes these dances look sexy and hot.  We’re going to give you a taste of how to achieve this. Of course, it’s difficult to convey such a complex topic without a visual explanation, but we hope this post helps you in your dancing nonetheless.


Start with your ankles together and your feet turned out at 45 degrees. Remember this position: this is your center. Your feet should pass through exactly this position as you move from one step to another (in all dances!). So now let’s start with the exercise.

  1. Lift up. Feel that everything above your hips is stretching as far up as possible through the top of your head. At the same time, imagine that everything below your hips is pushing down into the ground.
  2. Bend your right knee, lifting your heel off the ground and bring your left hip back (not down or up). Make sure to keep the space between your hips and your ribcage equal on either side. One side should not be scrunched. Really feel that the left hip is going as far back as possible. Stretch!
  3. Keep standing straight and stretching up and down!
  4. Begin to straighten the right knee, rolling through the ball, arch and heel of your foot as you bring the left hip back to center. Are you back in your starting position (with your ankles together and feet turned out)? Are you still stretching up and down? Are your sides equal in length?
  5. Repeat the exercise on the other side.

Do this exercise slowly. The slower you do it, the more you will get out of it. Stand in front of a full-length mirror and repeat this exercise for at least 15 minutes a day and you will feel a noticeable difference in your dancing, guaranteed.

Once you feel comfortable doing this exercise in place, experiment with cucarachas to the side or forward and backward Rumba walks. Don’t forget to breathe and don’t get discouraged!

Have questions about this exercise? Leave them in the comments below!