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The Different Types of Dances You Will Learn at Zumba

The infatuation with Zumba is rapidly growing. Created in the late 1990s in Columbia by fitness instructor Alberto Perez, Zumba is more of an exercise routine than a dance. 

With so many different dance forms, Zumba incorporates Caribbean dance styles like Soca and other South American dances like meringue and samba. It also has influences from other Asian lands, with inspiration from Bollywood movies.

How It All Started

History has it that dance choreographer Alberto Perez stumbled upon the dance moves and music when he was on his way to teach an aerobics class and realized that he forgot his music. He didn’t have time to double check and get back, so he improvised using his Salsa and merengue tapes. Before he knew it, he ended up creating a class with a perfect mix of dance and aerobics moves that kept his students engaged and motivated. 

In 2001, Perez started teaching the popular dance format along with two other choreographers and called the new dance style Zumba. Since then, the Latin-American dance-inspired aerobic style workout has taken the world by storm.

Zumba markets itself with alluring slogans like Ditch the workout, join the party, Party yourself into shape, and others. Many people like Zumba because they have so much fun and can move at their own pace while gradually learning the more complicated dance steps. Your first Zumba dance workout might seem overwhelming because the music and movements are fast. Nevertheless, if you break the dance moves down to their basic roots, you can easily master it.

If you want to learn a few basic moves inspired by the most expressive and lively dance styles, here are some of the best.

Salsa Steps

Salsa is a dance move associated with the most popular genre of music in the United States. Comprised of a mix of Cuban dance moves like mambo, Pachanga, and rumba, it also encapsulates other American dance forms like swing and tap. A basic salsa move includes eight total steps:

Take one step to the left with your left foot

 Rock your weight back to the right foot

 Step back to the center with your left foot

 Pause for the fourth count

 Step to the right with your right foot

 Shift your weight onto the left foot

 Bring your right foot back to the center

 Pause for the eighth count

Merengue Steps

Merengue is a type of music that originated in the Dominican Republic and has become popular throughout Latin America. To practice a Merengue dance move, stand tall with your feet close together, shift your hips to the right, pick up your left foot, and then stomp it to the ground. 

Then, shift your hip to the left, pick up your right foot, and stomp it. When you find a rhythm with that step pattern, try to move faster once you are comfortable. You can add an arm movement, like reaching out to the other side overhead as you step.

Basic Reggaeton Steps

Originating in Puerto Rico, Reggaeton is a popular dance form in Spain and Latin America. An example of this genre is featured in the song Despacito by Luis Fonsi, which features rapper Daddy Yankee. 

To practice the Reggaeton steps:

  1. Simply start with the leg movements first.
  2. Step out wide with your left foot and, bring your right foot in, and tap it right next to the left foot.
  3. As you tap your right foot, lean to the right so that you would fall if you didn’t catch yourself.

Unlike other dance genres, reggaeton does not possess a predefined dance style; it gives you the liberty to explore and include other movements from other styles.

With so many dance forms, the passion for Zumba isn’t going away any time soon. After all, when you are ramped up in the fiery intensity of the thrilling dance, you will find it hard to give it up!

Aaron Levinson | Staff Writer

Spring 2024

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