Merengue Dance Steps

The appropriate use of merengue dance steps can help you master this exciting dance. Merengue is a music and dance style that originated in the Dominican Republic.

The dancing style requires 2 people to be close to each other. In merengue the leader (normally the male) holds the waist of the follower (commonly the female) using the right hand while leader’s left hand holds the right hand of the follower at the eyes level. This type of dancing is quite simple; it is a 2 step beat and once the music starts both of the dancing partners have to slightly bend the knees left and right. Doing that creates a continuous motion of the hip moving left and right.

Merengue Origins

Merengue is typical of the Dominican Republic, however, there is similar type of dance called the Haitian Mereng which is an important symbol in the Haitian culture. The Mereng developed as a result of the combination of the Africans music and the ballroom dancing style of the French. Some people suggest that the Dominican’s merengue is a variation of the Haitians Mereng however most Dominicans do not feel that the Haitian music had any influence over the creation of the Dominican Merengue.

Merengue Dance Steps

Dancing merengue requires the use of 3 basic moves: the side basic movement, the forward basic movement and backward basic movement. All of them together create the merengue dancing steps. As a general rule each move consists of 8 steps.

In certain situations you might change from one movement to the other with a lesser amount of steps like 2 or 4.

- Side Basic Movement

At the beginning of this step the leader’s body weight is located on his right side after the first beat the leader will step on the other foot. In the middle of the first beat the leader drags the foot inward and changes the weight of his body to the left. Once that part is done the right leg is free to step on it. This movement continues for up to 8 steps and the follower mirrors them.

- Forward Basic movement

The side basic movement is the core of the merengue dance steps but it gets more interesting when you add the forward movement. In the forward basic movement the leader starts moving forward while at the same time is doing the side basic movement. At the beginning of the first beat the leader’s weight is on the right side then he steps to the left while moving forward then he drags the foot inward in the middle of the beat then he shift his weight to the left side proceeding to step on the right foot while moving forward.

- Backward Basic Movement

Another of the merengue dance steps is the backward basic movement. This requires doing the opposite of what is done in the forward basic one. Meaning that instead of moving forward while performing the side basic movement the leader will move backwards.

In the backward basic, the leader, at the beginning of the beat, will step on his left foot while taking it backwards. Then in the middle of the first beat, the person acting as leader will move his feet inwards, changing his weight to the left foot and then stepping backwards on the right foot.

One important thing to know about the forward and backward basic movement is that while the leader does one of them the follower has to do the opposite one. That means if the leader is doing the forward basic the follower must do the backward basic.

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