Beacon How: Dance

by Beacon Staff • February 25, 2009

Rachel Shrayber, an Emerson freshman and semi-professional ballroom dancer, knows how to break it down.

"My mom danced ballroom socially for about a year and always wanted me to try, but I was 12 and there really were no studios in the area for kids," the communication disorders major said. "I would have been dancing with 40-year-old men."

Shrayber grew up in in Newton, Mass. and danced ballet, tap and hip-hop since she was four. When she turned 12, a studio called Dance Fever opened in her area. Shrayber was one of the first dancers to sign up for ballroom at Dance Fever, the studio now boasts over 40 group and single classes a week.

After a year of dancing for fun, Shrayber began competing in two to three shows a month, and has done so ever since. Now in the Championships Division, the highest group of competing dancers, she has perfected ten dances: five Latin and five standard.

After winning competitions all over the state for the last seven years, Shrayber is now sharing her expertise. For Beacon How, she explained the eight basic steps for the Rumba, her favorite Latin dance.

"It's very sensual, it shows off the dancer's body," she said. "It's very slow, very passionate."

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1. Stand with your feet together. Be ready to move your hips, and count "Two-Three-Four-One-Two-Three-Four," holding the "One" a bit longer than the rest.

2. Put your weight on your right (R) leg, and step sideways with your left (L) leg. Make sure your legs slide into each move.

3. Feet now apart, shift your weight onto your L leg and move your right leg over to meet it, slide past it, then step backwards with the R and put your weight on it. Don't step down when your R meets your L leg, just let your free R knee slide past your L knee. The weight should be on your L until you step backwards onto the R.

4. Pushing off the R leg, rock your weight onto the L leg in front of you again. Each time your weight is moved off a leg, straighten your free leg and point that toe. It makes it look fluid!

5. With your now free R leg, slide up past the L leg, brush past it, then step sideways with the R and put your weight on it, freeing the L leg. Don't take big steps, little ones look better. You should now be just about in the same position you started in.

6. Bring in your L leg to the R, brushing past your R knee, and step forward, putting your weight onto your forward L leg. Again, don't step down when you bring your L leg in, just brush past the R one and then step forward. Then bring your L leg down and put your weight on it.

7. Keeping your legs with the L forward and the R back, rock your weight from the L leg back to the R leg once. When you move your weight from the L to the R leg, remember to point the L leg to make it look cleaner.

8. Finally, move your L leg back to the R, and put your feet and knees together. You should now be back to the first step, which means you have completed a basic Rumba!