MERENGUE- DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

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MERENGUE DANCE, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

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Merengue dance is said to have originated in the Dominican Republic and is a very lively dance which can be picked up quite easily by beginners. This elegant dance style is a ‘4 beats-step dance’ and was created to be performed to the rhythm of the “Merengue” music. In addition, this dance style involves the performers starting off using a ‘closed’ position (i.e couple facing each other holding both hands), who then switch to an ‘open’ position (partners are standing apart, facing in the same direction holding one hand or not holding hands at all). Furthermore, this dance is said to have evolved over the years into other forms such as the Modern Merengue and Merengue Tipico.

a. History/origin of the Merengue:

A historical fact states that this dance form is said to have developed by observing labourers working in the field in Dominican Republic. Furthermore, it so happened that these labourers were bound to each other by a chain which was then strapped to their ankles. It is this strapped ankles that then compelled the workers to walk by dragging along one leg. Thus it was this “dragging of the leg” movement used by the slaves on the field that was then developed into a dance form which was called “Merengue”.

b. Costume used in the Merengue:

Since this dance style essentially involves both male and female the costume worn varies accordingly as follows:

1. For females:

The attire worn would include shirts that reveal the midriff, short skirts made from flowing fabric or a long pant possessing a slit that originates from the thigh area, and a pair of shoes.

2. For males:

The costume worn includes an open collared type of shirt, dark slacks or jeans, and a pair of shoes.

c. Music involved in the Merengue:

The musical instruments used in the music produced for this dance style include an accordion, a bass guitar, guira, Dominican tambora, piano, guitar, saxophone, trumpet, congas, trombone, and tuba. In addition, accompanying the vibrant music is a traditional Merengue song. Apparently, the first Merengue song for this dance style was written in 1844 and the lyrics are as follows:

Thomas huyó con la bandera

Thomas huyó de Talanquera

Si hubiera sido yo, no me habría huido,

Thomas huyó con la bandera

Which when translated in English literally means

Thomas fled with the flag

Thomas fled from Talanquera

If it had been I, I wouldn’t have fled,

Thomas fled with the flag

d. Training availability and technique involved in Meringue:

In terms of technique, this dance involves the use of a “closed position” in which the lead performer using the right hand holds the waist of the follower. At the same time, the leader with the use of the left hand holds the right hand of the follower. In addition, this dance style also requires the performers to bend their knees slightly to the left and to the right which results in the hips moving towards the right and left as well. Furthermore, the above mentioned intricate dance steps are carried out in complete harmony with the energetic beats of the music produced. As for training centres/schools, there are many available all around the globe, since this “vibrant” dance style like the salsa has rapidly gained popularity over the years.

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