Merengue Facts: An Art Form From The Dominican Republic | Kidadl


Merengue Facts: An Art Form From The Dominican Republic

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Merengue is a type of art that is popular as a form of music and dance.

The dance form is more widely practiced than the genre of music. However, merengue dance is based on merengue music.

There are many different types of merengue dance. Some of them include club merengue, ballroom merengue, and folk merengue. To know more about this art form, keep reading this article!

History Of Merengue 

Merengue as a music style and dance style has a rich history. This dance is the national dance form of the Dominican Republic. The neighboring island of Haiti also considers this form of dancing as their national dance form, to some extent. The history of merengue has a couple of origin theories.

The first origin story asserts that this dance dates back to the time when slavery was still prevalent. The second story suggests that a great hero of the Dominican Republic sustained an injury in one of his legs while participating in and leading revolutions. When the hero returned to his village, he was greeted by celebratory music and dance. Since the war hero was limping on one leg, the rest of the villagers felt the need to show empathy by limping on one leg as well, while dragging the other leg. Another theory suggests that the name of this form of dancing can be attributed to the dessert with the same name (the 'meringue'). This is because the dancing style is frothy and light, and resembles the texture of the dessert.

Merengue Music Characteristics

Although the merengue musical style originated in the Dominican Republic, it has spread to other islands in the Caribbean region. It is also popular in South America. Merengue music is often played in restaurants and cafes in these countries. Even though the music was originally orchestrated on a 2/4 rhythm, modern versions often play it on a 4/4 rhythm. Merengue music is characterized by a few features that are common to all or most songs of this genre.

Merengue music was originally played on string instruments. Some of the instruments used in merengue music include the acoustic guitar, the bongo, the piano, the saxophone, the drums, the djembe, and the accordion. In recent times, other instruments have also been used to play this music. Some of them are the tambora, the guira, and the electronic bass guitar. The guira is another percussion instrument that is cylindrical in shape. The tambora is a drum that can be played on both sides. People began to play merengue music on the accordion only during the 19th century, after traders from Europe brought the instrument to the Dominican Republic. Merengue music contains three sections that are distinct in every song that is played. These sections are known as the paseo, the merengue, and the jaleo. The songs in this style of music are presented in an even time signature.

The first merengue song was about a soldier named Thomas Torres.

Merengue Dance Characteristics

Merengue dance has characteristics that make it different from other dances like the bachata, the salsa, the rumba, the mambo, and the cha-cha. The merengue, the bachata, and these other dance forms are also Latin dances that are popular among Afro-Caribbean people. While the bachata and other dance forms are restricted to dance only, the merengue is a form of music too. The merengue dance form is also different from dances like the bachata in the way that it prescribes the movement of the hips.

In merengue dance, the body weight is focused on one foot, while the other foot is dragged along. The moves in this dance are clear and clean in appearance. This dance form was born out of a fusion of African and French minuet dances. The oldest style of this dance had male and female dancers facing each other and forming a circle to dance. The dance consists of simple moves. The dancers held each other's hands at a distance and shake their shoulders, while their hips remained steady when moving on the dance floor to the beat of the song.

Merengue Dance Today

With the roots of its history in the Dominican Republic, the merengue is a dance form that is practiced all over the world. Dancers everywhere groove to merengue music while performing the merengue dance. These days the merengue dance is often performed and showcased in Latin clubs.

The authentic form of this dancing style uses consistent and clear rhythmic moves. Nowadays, the dance tends to follow a more casual routine. The steps are clear yet quick. Turns are made with fast successive steps. The number of steps can be decided by the dancer while dancing. Merengue dance can also be seen in the world of ballroom dancing. Here, merengue is more regulated, with stringent rules, as opposed to the authentic version which is more free-flowing. In the ballroom, merengue dancers are required to use their hips. In today's world, merengue is most popular in nightclubs. The dances practiced here tend to be closer to the authentic dance form than what we see in the ballroom version. However, merengue dances in clubs use more moves and wraps. The arm movements of swing and salsa dances are borrowed for use in merengue dance in this version. In nightclubs, merengue is more casual, free, and intimate, and even features hip dips.

Merengue dance is usually danced to merengue music. Some of the famous merengue songs are 'Guayo' by Elvis Crespo, 'Oye Abre Tus Ojos' by Alex Bueno, 'Con La Mano en el Piso y con La (pompi),' by Mala Fe, and 'Suavemente' by Elvis Crespo.


What is special about merengue?

What is special about merengue is that it was created in the New World, and resembles the styles and traditions of the Old World, thus blending the two perfectly.

When was the merengue dance created?

The birth of merengue can be traced back to the 1800s. It originated in Latin America, in the Dominican Republic.

Who invented merengue?

No single individual can be credited for the invention of this dance form. It was created in the 1800s in the Dominican Republic.

What is the common thread between merengue, salsa, samba, rumba, calypso, soca, and reggae?

All of these are dance forms that have Afro-Caribbean origins. They are also bound by the common thread of using specific beats and unusual instruments.

Where does the merengue come from?

The merengue originated in the Dominican Republic.

What are two facts about merengue?

Merengue dance operates on a beat pattern called quintillo, which consists of five beats. This art form also goes by the name of 'Meren' in Haiti.

How did merengue achieve global popularity?

In '60s, many Dominicans migrated to New York. This facilitated an exchange of cultures. In the aftermath of the migration, merengue was introduced to the United States, after which it became extremely popular.

<p>With a Master of Arts in English, Rajnandini has pursued her passion for the arts and has become an experienced content writer. She has worked with companies such as Writer's Zone and has had her writing skills recognized by publications such as The Telegraph. Rajnandini is also trilingual and enjoys various hobbies such as music, movies, travel, philanthropy, writing her blog, and reading classic British literature.&nbsp;</p>

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