Dancing an Underarm Turn in Merengue

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Dancing an Underarm Turn in Merengue


El hombre dominicano es machista, quiere que sus órdenes sean cumplidas. Pero a sus mujeres no les gusta cumplirlas, y de alli vienen sus pleitos. Bachata es una defensa de los hombres.

The merengue is a popular Latin dance from the Dominican Republic. It is a worthy starting place for those new to Latin dancing. The woman faces her partner with arms locked into position. The merengue follows a four count set to the rhythm of the music. The underarm turn brings another element of style to the merengue. Master the basic dance pattern and you are ready for the underarm turn.

Merengue dancing is a style of partner dancing originating in the Dominican Republic. It is performed to merengue music, the official music of the Dominican Republic. While ballroom merengue dancing is the official dance of the country, less formal club and folk versions of the dance also exist.

Merengue dancing first gained popularity in the Dominican Republic in the mid-19th century, though it was denounced by the upper classes in favor of native dance forms such as the Tumba. Merengue may have taken its name from one portion of a contemporary Cuban dance called upa.

Merengue was controversial because it was popular among the rural poor, used African rhythms, and often had racy lyrics. Throughout the first few decades of the 20th century, merengue became increasingly respectable and accepted by the upper classes of the Dominican Republic, with the help of professional ballroom musicians and innocuous lyrics.

Merengue music is closely related to the similarly named Méringue, native to Haiti. Dictator Rafael Trujillo, who came to power in the Dominican Republic in 1930, declared merengue dancing and music as the official national forms. He may have been inspired by his partially Haitian background, despite the violent anti-Haitian policy he developed later in his reign.

Merengue dancing as traditionally performed is characterized by a stylized limping step, known as paso de la empalizada, or the "pole-fence step." Legend tells that the style was developed to imitate or flatter a wounded war hero or government leader who danced with a limp. The empalizada causes the dancers' hips to sway, and ideally, partners' hips move in sync with each other throughout the dance. A couple may perform slow turns, dance sideways, circle each other, and turn independently, in addition to other ballroom choreography. Merengue dancing is taught at dance studios around the world as a Latin nightclub dance, though the empalizada of the Dominican Republic is often replaced with the more exaggerated Cuban hip motion used in other Latin ballroom styles. 

Club merengue is a less formal style of merengue dancing that developed in the Latin American nightclub scene. Though it uses many of the same dance moves as ballroom merengue dancing, the tone is typically less serious and more eroticized. In addition, the basic step may be more flamboyant than the empalizada or Cuban hip motion, and dancers may perform separately as well as with partners. A more traditional style of merengue dancing, known as folk or folkloric merengue, is still performed in rural areas of the Dominican Republic. 

  1. Play the music. There is a variety of Latin music available for the merengue. The tempo of the music selected determines the speed of your underarm turn. Latin music tends to have a rapid speed. The faster the music, the faster the underarm turn is executed.
  2. Stand in the basic hold position facing each other. The man has his right hand on the women's hip and his left hand holds her right hand. He begins with his left foot. She has her left hand on his shoulder and begins with the right foot. They keep their bodies in a locked, upright position. Proceed with the basic two step dance pattern for the merengue following the beat of the music.
  3. Begin the underarm turn with the women raising her right hand and man raising his left, allowing space for the turn between them and through their locked arms. Their hands are held firmly so that they may kept together. When dancing any step of the merengue, the couple never completely releases their hands.
  4. Move clockwise. The woman rotates under the raised arms toward the man. She takes small steps keeping with the rhythm of the music. He keeps dancing the merengue in place while creating the framework for her turn.
  5. Rotate until a full circle is made and she is facing her partner once again.
  6. Repeat Step 4 to add more turns, or simply drop your arms back down to the basic hold position to complete the turn. Performing an underarm dance turn several times or just a single turn is usually determined by the dancers' ability and the tempo of the music.







Learn To Dance Merengue, Beginning and Intermediate: A Step-By-Step Guide To Merengue Dancing
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