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Merengue is a style of Dominican music and dance. Partners hold each other in a closed position. The leader holds the follower’s waist with the leader’s right hand, while holding the follower’s right hand with the leader’s left hand at the follower’s eye level. Partners bend their knees slightly left and right, thus making the hips move left and right. The hips of the leader and follower move in the same direction throughout the song. Partners may walk sideways or circle each other, in small steps. They can switch to an open position and do separate turns without letting go each other’s hands or releasing one hand. During these turns they may twist and tie their handhold into intricate pretzels. Other choreographies are possible.
Merengue was made by the official music and dance of the Dominican Republic by Rafael Trujillo. In an origin’s version, the dance originated from the enslaved laborers working in sugar beet fields. These workers were connected to one another by a chain strapped to their ankles and had to walk in such a manner as to drag one leg.
Although the tempo of the music may be frenetic, the upper body is kept majestic and turns are slow, typically four beats/steps per complete turn.
In the social dancing of the United States the “empalizada” style is replaced by exaggerated Cuban motion, taught in chain ballroom studios for dances of Latin American origin (cha-cha-cha, rumba, mambo, salsa).
According to Merengue: Dominican Music and Dominican Identity by Paul Austerlitz, “we will probably never know with certainty the true origin of this music, but theories about it express deep-noted feelings about Dominican identity. One theory links merengue to the Haitian mereng. Although they differ in important ways, the Dominican Republic and Haiti share many cultural characteristics. Like merengue in the Dominican Republic, mereng (in Haitian Creole; méringue in French) is a national symbol in Haiti. According to Jean Fouchard, Mereng evolved from the fusion of the enslaved peoples’ musics such as the chica and calenda with ballroom forms related to the French contredance (1988: 5-9). Mereng’s name, he says, derives from the mouringue music of the Bara, a Bantu people of Madagascar (1973: 110, 1988: 77-82). That few Malagasies came to the Americas renders this etymology dubious, but it is significant because it foregrounds what Fouchard, and most Haitians, consider the essentially African-derived nature of the music and national identity. Dominican merengue, Fouchard suggests, developed directly from Haitian mereng (1988: 66).”
Also, according to mentioned that Merengue actually comes from acoustic groups, and in the Dominican Republic, the folklore, is the merengue, and during the 20th century Merengue’s original lead instrument was the guitar. By the 1940s and 1950s it was performed with accordions. On the other hand Burr explains that today, modern Merengue that is heard in nightclubs is epitomized by artist such as Elvis Crespo and Olga Tanon. According to  Merengue Tipico originated in the rural Northern Valley region around the city of Santiago. That’s the reason this type of Merengue is known as Merengue Cibaeno. Also Merengue Tipico emphasizes traditional songs dating back as far as the last century. Its performance context and practices differ in their emphasis on close personal relationship between audience, and performers. That’s the reason the genre of Merengue Tipico is more complex than one familiar of merengue. The rhythm of merengue includes of merengue derecho, and merengue apanbichao.
With so many different class options available, it is easy to get excellent dance lessons in Chicago, IL from us at Chicago Professional Amateur & Social Dance, INC. We offer training for beginner, Intermediate and advanced level dancers, both of which have the options for private lesson and group lesson. Whether you are training for a wedding dance and need special event dance lessons or are training for a tango competition, we can give you the guidance that you need. Most of our lessons are sold in packages of four meetings.
For those who want to get fit while having fun, we offer latin classes that come in five class package deals so that you can keep consistent with your training. Moving your body to music that you enjoy is a fun way to stay in shape because it engages your body, mind, and soul to work in harmony. Dancers of all skill levels are accepted here, so do not hesitate to take lessons that you would enjoy simply because you do not think you are a good dancer. We will help you to become the best that you can be, so contact us today!