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Carolina Onetto-Keeley

on 9 April 2014

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Transcript of MERENGUE

Cultural Relevance
The Merengue is so important to the Dominican Republic that its actually part of their national identity. How did this happen?

The truth is no one really knows for sure. Like mentioned earlier there are many stories about its origin and while thats interesting , the most important fact is that it became an important part of social life. Its beginnings were around the mid 1800's and it is believed that Juan Bautista Alfonseca (1810-1875), a military leader was one of the fathers of the genre. Himself composing some of the very first songs.

Merengue was the dance of the lower class Dominicans and they were even jailed if caught dancing it. The merengue started off this way but soon began to change in popularity.
The Evolution of the Merengue
The Merengue has changed very much from its original state. Now a days, the limp movement has evolved into more of a bouncy drag with the foot, it is much faster , and involves intricate partner work.
Stylistic Features
The Merengue features rhythmic movement and a lot of swaying back and forth. When slow It is graceful and when faster it is bouncy, energetic, and upbeat. The Merengue is danced in partners, between a boy and a girl. The boy holds the girl at the waste and the hand, guiding and leading. Traditionally the Merengue had few or no turns but over time this has changed and nowadays many ballroom turns have been added on. Posture is very important in all latin dances, but especially in Merengue where the movement should come from the hips and feet and not the upper body
Famous Merengue Artists

There are many stories about the history and origin of Merengue, one is that Slaves viewed european masters dancing in the ballroom. Later during the slaves own festivals they started mimicking the masters dances and creating there own new flare, because the original dance was very slow and boring. Another theory is that a Dominican hero was wounded in combat, and had to limp. To honor him, the rest of the villagers limped aswell. The last trace of possible history is that Dominican slaves were all chained together, and had a limp. This then evolved into what is now called the Merengue. Some people attribute the name “merengue” to the sugary substance that was made when cane sugar was mixed. Here in north america we know the word as meringue used in lemon meringue.

Other Influences & Popularity
Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Colombia, Haiti but its reached the whole world in popularity, even Canada! Now, there are even dance competitions with children who compete in Merengue dancing. Here is a video from "Mad hot ballroom", a 2005 documentary movie on Child dance competitions. This clip showcases incredible moves displayed by kids even younger than me!

The Merengue incorporates many afro-Caribbean beats and instruments like the Conga Drums, Tambora, the Guiro, the Bongos and the Saxophone. The Tambora is traditionally played with a drum on the lap, hit with a stick on one end and a hand on the other. The GUIRO is a latin american percussion that is played by rubbing a stick over its ridges. In the more modern version of Merengue, pianos, bass and trumpets are used.
The traditional outfit:
for females, it is a long flared skirt and top piece, and for males, a thin and flaky white shirt, black pants, and a red ribbon belt.
Interesting facts about Dominican Republic:

The climate usually stays pretty hot, hovering around 25 Degrees Celsius

The traditional dish of the Dominican Republic is called the “Dominican flag” and consists of rice, beans and chicken.

The Dominican Republic has its own currency called the Dominican peso.

Music Structure
Only a piece of the role of the tambora, saxophone or accordion are illustrated below. The beat of the merengue is essential. The beat is either played in 2/4 counts or 4/4 counts per bar.




The merengue has moved from a traditional dance among rural villagers to a nationally accepted and loved dance.

At first it was like a square dance and then became influenced by people from others parts of the world, like the french, carribean and Africans. By the 1850's it had changed into a couples dance. The dance got closer and faster as time went by.

Today the Merengue is a dance phenomenon that incorporates ballroom moves known all over the world.
This is a video of the traditional Merengue, usually danced on the coast of the Dominican Republic.
Elvis Crespo is one of the most famous modern merengue singers of all time.

His songs are even featured in
Canadian dance clubs.

This video from dancing with the stars shows how Merengue has changed into what it is today!
El Merengue
To the Beat of Merengue
Full transcript