Merengue is a style of music and dance that originated in the Dominican Republic. Partners hold each other in a closed position and bend their knees slightly left and right, which makes the hips move left and right. Partners can walk sideways or circle each other in small steps. They can also switch to an open position and do separate turns without letting go each other’s hands. Merengue music is fast and energetic, and the dancing is quick, but controlled.
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Merengue dance steps are danced in precise time with the music. The music is danced in 4/4 time, meaning that there are four beats to each measure of music and four movements for each measure. Since a typical Merengue step eight counts, it will take two bars of music to complete. The follower mirrors the leader’s movements from the start.
Traditional Merengue music from the Dominican Republic uses instruments like the diatonic accordion, a tambora (a two-sided drum), and a güira (which sounds like a maraca). Merengue music is quick, similar in tempo to Polka music.
More modern Merengue music uses a five-person lineup: accordion, sax, tambora, güira, and bass guitar. Some Merengue groups also add congas, timbales (drums), and keyboards as a nod to the more traditional music. You can Merengue to any song in 4/4 time, but here are some songs that are especially good for this dance:
- Loca by Shakira
- Corazoncito by Grupo Mania
- Tu Fotographia by Zafra Negra
- Suavemente by Elvis Crespo
- Nina Bonita by Grupo Mania
What Can I Expect at Merengue Class?
When you take Merengue dance lessons at Fred Astaire Dance Studio of Raleigh, you can expect:
- Instructors that tailor each lesson and class to your skill level
- A great workout! Merengue is a wonderful aerobic workout, while also toning and strengthening your legs and glutes
- Meeting new people and making new friends
- Decreased stress and increased energy after a few lessons
Watch some Fred Astaire students Merengue dancing: