There is a lot of information about Timba on the web - our objective in this project is to evaluate it and give it structure. From curriculum to pedagogic practice, from rhythm to music we are preparing and teaching our classes based on smaller elements called "skills". These skills are grouped into different scopes:

  • basic routines
  • body-movement
  • choreography
  • lead and follow
  • different dances, history and development
  • musicality and culture

Timbapedia is the foundation for Project Animation Team and Project Timba

How do we evaluate ?

We are happy and thankful to have a lot of support from other Trainers and Professionals. All of them are sharing their passion for years with their students, and they are sharing with us, what worked well and what did not work out when teaching. We try to get as much experience from those mentors, document and formalize their input and train our self with the gained knowledge to make a perfect experience for our students and dance partners.

Trainer X is teaching Y different ?

We don´t like to define right or wrongs - we understand that there are some constrains when it comes to defining standards, however we do try to setup common well established rules based on reasons:

Example:Rule: Leaders avoid walking backward in casinoResaons: Does not look masculine, which conflicts with the image of the leader in the dance. Its not safe (you don´t know who is behind you).

We do our best to share things that worked best for us, however they might not work best for all. This is why we encourage our students to go and look for other dance partners, workshops and festivals with Project SalsativityOnTour.

What is Timba anyway ? (Dances and music)

Timba Music became popular in Cuba in the 1989 with NG La Bandas Album En La Calle - however the spicy ingredients for Timba have been already there for a while - and still today, Timba is influenced by newer influences in Cuba like Reggaeton Cubano or Bachata.

Rumba, Rhumba, Guaguancó, Yambu, Columbia - I'm confused!

Rumba - the party

Rumba in Cuba is a synonymous for a party where there was dancing and singing, like a Milonga in Argentina - most of the time food and alcoholic beverages were served.

Rhumba - the Anglo-Saxon ballroom dance

Rhumba came to the United States from Cuba in the 1920s and became a popular cabaret dance during prohibition. Rhumba is a ballroom adaptation of Son Cubano and Bolero (the Cuban genre) and, despite its name, it rarely included elements of Cuban rumba.

Rumba Wars - the European competition (for) dance

The American Rhumba, swapped over to Europe in 1930, via New York, where it had already taken on various elements of Jazz. During the Third Reich the Rhumba was prohibited and interest began falling off in other countries as well. After the Second World War, there was a rebirth of this fascinating dance. From 1956 until 1958 and from 1961 to 1963, two “Rumba Wars” were waged between Great Britain and France to standardize their variations of the Rumba. The fight ended with the decision of the international committees to accept both variants - so yes - again - similar names, different dances: "Cuban Rumba" (the French version, which had literally nothing to do with "Rumba" as danced in Cuba) and "Square-Rumba" (the American/English version) were born.

Meanwhile in Cuba

This musical complex with African roots became an intangible cultural world heritage in 2016. It originated in Cuba during the Spanish colonial period as a folkloric dance, made up of beats, songs, dances and pantomimes, danced by the slaves. This tradition is still deeply rooted in the social and culture of Cuba with three different styles:

The Yambú

It all started mid 19th century with Yambú - Its tempo is slow and begins with a choral “la-la-laiyo” called the "Diana" and a bit later the solo vocalist sings some verses, called the "Decimar". After that the chorus responds with the distinctive “la-la-laiyo” and they continue alternating between the soloist and the chorus until the refrain comes in - at this point the actual dance starts.

The Columbia

Columbia is historically danced by men only, although there are some women who became famous for interpreting this style (eg Jennyselt Galata). This style has a rural origin. For the great Rumba dancers and musicians, the Columbia style evokes around the area of Matanzas.

The songs may take their inspiration from a large variety of topics, but are expressed in brief unpolished phrases, with an abundance of African expressions, as is natural in the creation of a human art form that arose from the cane plantations or the sugar mill barracks.

Its structure – soloist-chorus – is the same as the other rumba styles, and presents two clearly defined parts. The singing part, the similar to the "Diana" called ”Llorao”, is characteristic of the Columbia and consists of a series of laments or exclamations of pain that the singer or “Rooster” lets loose with in the middle of his verses. As in Yambú the dancing starts after the "Llorao" and is called the "Capetillo". The tempo of the song is very fast and energetic.

When the moment of the dance arrives, one of the participants in the party gestures for permission to dance and after clearing a space for him or herself amidst those present and saluting the drummers, the dancer shows off his artistic and dancing abilities - creating a challenge between the Dancer and the Quinto drummer.

Later another dancer will step in to substitute, attempting to better his/her dance moves. The Game or style of the dancers is “legs and shoulders”, maintaining an erect position, while many times also balancing a glass or drink bottle on their heads or using machetes or knifes.

The Guaguancó

The last but most danced Rumba in Timba is the Guaguancó - it is integral part to Timba like the Son Cubano. The origin of this dance come from “makuta”.

The tempo of the guaguancó is slightly slower than that of the Columbia but faster than the Yambú and the lyrics are in Spanish only. The dance is performed by couples with the man engaged in an amorous pursuit of a woman: he desiring to "Vaccinate her” also called "vacuno". She trying humorously to protect herself by quickly turning away, bringing the ends of her skirts together, or covering her groin area with her hand "botao". In this deeply lustful representation of persecution and flight, the dance partners show off their dancing skills.

Meanwhile in New York/Puerto Rico

Salsa Dura and the Guaguancó

Dancers who explore harder-edged salsa dura from contemporary bands or older stuff (before Fania) will hear a lot of references to Rumba and Guaguancó. Studying the lyrics you will find something like “dedico este guaguancó” (i dedicate this to guaguancó) in the lyrics - which might make you think are they playing guaguancó ? No, those tunes are almost always a marcha, i.e. a basic son Cubano tumbao. Sometime however, the conguero will play a Rumba Guaguancó pattern for a few bars and you will hear the typical “la-la-laiyo” Diana (eg La Maxima 79 - Pobrecita).

So why the confusion with Guaguancó when they are clearly not related to the authentic Rumba of Cuba ?

This comes down to two reasons: most of the time the bands are covering a song that originally was a Rumba Guaguancó, This was a strong trend during salsa’s “classic” period in the sixties and seventies, though less common these days. On the other hand, Arsenio Rodríguez has done this before the Salsa craziness by bringing the black rumba from the streets to the ballrooms by using the Rumba Structure but putting it on top of Son Montuno. This was called "Guaguancó de salon" - and though it was not so popular in Cuba itself, it took off rapidly in Puerto Rico. When Arsenio went to New York to search to look for a cure to his blindness he encountered the already dynamic Puerto Rican musical scene. This was the rise of what we know now as NY Guaguancó.

Mambo! Mambo? - I'm confused again!

Mambo Music in Cuba

Mambo emerged in the late 1930s in Havana from the Danzón as Danzón-mambo by adding the tumbaos and guajeos from the montuno section of Son which created a complex, clave-oriented polyphony with strong accents on the upbeat (1,3,5,7). By adding further instruments the band grew in size and became what is known today as Charanga ensamble. Later on, another section was added to the Danzón-mambo which became the danzón-cha and developed to the cha-cha-chá.

Mambo Music in New York

As the band become bigger and bigger (growing from charanga to orchestra) the Brass (Trumpets) were added, this is where the Mambo craziness set-in and transferred to New York where it initiated the "Palladium Era" starting in 1950s New York. The Palladium Ballroom was America’s most important venue for the development of Latin music and dance throughout the 1950s. The era was dominated by the “Big Three” Latin orchestras—Tito Puente, Tito Rodríguez, and Machito. The era ended in 1961 when the Palladium lost its liquor license as the result of a drug raid.