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Lower Body Action: Introduction

A smooth, easy swing of the hips is the most recognisable feature of Afro-Caribbean dancing. And while those living in the region are lucky enough to acquire their hip movement by immersion in the environment, the rest of us aren't so fortunate and have to learn it instead.

It is easily the hallmark of the most fluent dancer, more so than any (im)possible move combination. We refer to it formally as the Lower Body Action, but more often to the exercise that develops it called Pedalling.

In part, it is for that reason that our demonstrators were selected. Shirin and Nathan had never been to Latin America before starting with us, and are now frequently mistaken as native dancers because of their action.

The lower body action is generated by the movement of leg joints in a specific order into certain positions, followed by a relaxation of the muscles that effected the movement. Hence it is a decrease in muscle tension that produces the easy-looking hip action, not an increase, which would make the action look forced.

The pedalling practice detailed here is a simple version of that taught to our own students, and has proved over the years to be the most effective method of mastering the African component of Latin dance. 


1999 Salsa & Merengue Society