Sharing The Joy Of Dancing


The rumba cucaracha is a very difficult element to execute. It is one of those elements that require both partners being capable of performing their own part in order to develop its unique feeling.

A lot of instructors will not attempt to teach a cucaracha in a group class because of its complexity. They teach a simple mirror image 2nd or 5th position break in place of the cucaracha. I try to teach it anyway because it has such a great feel. If the student knows it exists and gets at least some concept of it, I think the student is better off in the long run. I like to teach the extremes, even though it is harder, because there is so much more feeling.

I think that the cucaracha is difficult to dance because the student doesn't really know how it works mechanically. The leader needs to know not only what he is to do but also what kind of reaction he should get from the follower. The more complicated the element, the more the dancers have to isolate the movements of different parts of their bodies. This also means the leader leads specific parts if the followers body.

The cucaracha typically starts with a side step to the right in closed dance position on a "slow". This is most common after an under arm turn, however it could be a simple side step after the forward half of a box. . Bottom line the man's footwork is side right ("slow"), side left (2nd position break - "quick"), side right (2nd position break closing feet -"quick"). The ladies basic footwork is side left ("slow), break backward (5th position - "quick"), inplace closing feet - "quick").

The man's foot work is pretty straight forward, but the ladies foot work is a result of the lead during the man's 2nd position breaks. As the man executes the 2nd position break to the left, his frame rotates right. The ladies break is then lead. The lady is going to take a backward break step but because of the frame rotation in the lead, it becomes a 5th position break. The man returns to his right foot at the same time the lady returns to her left foot. Because of the ladies rotating action returning to her left foot (caused by the 5th position), she causes herself and her partner to swivel.

Here are some tips to help make the cucaracha work:

The cucaracha is a complex element and may be frustrating to learn, but it is well worth the effort. The feeling of the cucaracha is based on the ability of both partners so it will vary when you dance with different people. This is definitely one of those elements that both the leader and follower need to know how to execute it to get the maximum feeling.