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Free merengue lessons & introduction!

Merengue is a fun dance and it’s very easy to learn. The old saying is that if you can walk, you can dance the merengue. Dancing the merengue is like marching where you step left right left right left right in time to the music. With one step taken to each beat of music, the basic step is very easy to learn. Being so easy to learn, merengue is very popular. Learn Cuban Motion from our free online video to achieve the action required to pull off the merengue correctly.

Free Video Instruction
An Introduction to Merengue

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Merengue Learning Area


A Decsription of Merengue

Merengue music essentially has the tempo and rhythm of marching music. This is appropriate for the even tempo left, right, left, right, step timing. The music and the basic step may be counted: 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4. Counting to eight is also very popular. The basic step can be thought of as step, close, step, close, step, close, step, close. Most patterns require 4 beats or eight beats of music. Like disco music, merengue music has heavy down beats on every count. The music style is festive and happy and the music tempo is about 120 to 160 beats per minute.
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The Character of Merengue

Going along with the festive character of the music, the dance figures can be spontaneous and very improvisational. They can also be sexy and a little wild. Acceptable figures can include pretzels, wraps, ropes, and tunnels. As the basic step is simply marching in nature, hundreds of figures are possible. Even so, many folks simply dance merengue in closed dance position only.

The key to looking good is in the body action. It’s not the moves you do but how you move that’s important. Learning the Merengue is a good way to start familiarizing yourself with Cuban Motion, which is the way that your body moves in all the Latin dances. Cuban motion, specifically hip action is an essential defining element of the dance. Cuban motion results from the alternate bending and straightening of the knees. As a knee bends, the same hip drops. As a knee straightens, the same hip is pushed up and out. Thus the hips move up and down. Again the secret is this: as a knee bends to release weight in preparation for stepping, the same hip should drop. The up and down hip action can be practiced by standing in place and alternately bending and straightening the knees.
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Merengue Music

The music style is festive and happy and the music tempo is about 120 to 160 beats per minute.

Click on the link below for examples of a few Merengue songs and CD's which feature Merengue music.

Merengue Music Examples >>
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History of Merengue

Merengue has its origins on the island of Santo Domingo. Both Haiti and the Dominican Republic claim to have invented it. Haiti claims that a great, war hero returned from battle with the neighboring islands. Unfortunately he had severely injured one of his legs in battle. At the victory feast and dance, everyone danced by dragging one leg so as not to embarrass or insult their hero. The Dominican Republic has a similar story. They claim that a prince was born with a lame leg and that his servants, so as not to insult him, would always dance by dragging one leg.

Regardless of its origins, merengue is one of the most popular and widely danced dances throughout Central and South America and the Caribbean islands. It is also popular in Latin Clubs and in dance studios in the United States.
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Tips & Info

Common Mistakes:

  • Shaking or twisting the hips.
    In order to achieve Cuban motion the hips should move up and down naturally as a result of the bending and straightening of the knees.
  • Tilting the upper body back and forth like an inverted pendulum.
    Instead the shoulders should remain level during the dance.
  • Not getting the hip action.
    As each knee bends, the same hip must be allowed to drop. You can't dance correctly if you shuffle your feet. Instead, you must make complete weight changes with each step.

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