The Dominican merengue is a style of music and dance that has its origins in the Latin American culture. It is the national dance of the Dominican Republic.
The purely traditional form of merengue is usually played with a two-ended tambora drum, a guiro, a box bass, a guitar, and an accordion.
There happens to be two versions of how and why the merengue came to be. First, it’s said that the merengue was invented by slaves and that the dance was developed because of two slaves chained together. The other was because of a national hero that came home from the war and that his limping leg was the basis of the dance steps. There’s also the idea that the merengue was developed due to the influence of Cuban music. All in all, it doesn’t really matter. The most important thing is that the symbolic imagery of the dance steps pertains to legends (or facts) that happened a long time ago and that it helped to define a culture.
Around the 18th century, the merengue evolved to become rural music in both Haiti and The Dominican Republic. It is noted that Haitian merengue tends to have a melancholic sound on the guitar, while the Dominican Republic sound tends to lean towards the opposite. The representative form of this style still survives to this day and it consists of the walks, body and jaleo. No one is really sure when, but as time went by, the walk disappeared and was superseded with an extension of the body and the jaleo had been alienated due to some exotic rhythm’s insertions.
Remember when going to Punta Cana that dancing the Dominican merengue means that partners hold each other in a vals-like position, stepping side-by-side, turning clock-wise (or the opposite), while maintaining the closed dance position (or sometimes only one of the dancers turn, particularly the female, while holding on to the other partner who holds his position).
There are so many popular
Dominican merengue artists. Here are some of them:
Reyes, Cherito, Los hermanos Rosario, Rubby Perez, Eddy Herrera. There
are also: Sergio Vargas, Milly Quezada, Julian Oro Duro and a lot
The merengue is never supposed to be complicated. Whoever originated this kind of style certainly had the idea of fun in mind.
Basic tips on dancing:
- In a closed position, partners usually hold each other in this way but never close enough to hugging.
- The steps are fairly easy to master, since a grasp of the basics is simply the bending of the knees to sway the hips in an up and down motion.
-It’s just like marching except that you only go sideways and not for long distances.
Check out this video on
to dance merengue:
Go ahead, find a partner and practice your merengue moves!