Merengue is the official music and dance of the Dominican Republic (East Hispaniola). Very similar in style to the Méringue dance of Haiti, it requires the partners to hold each other in a closed position. The man holds the female partner’s waist with his right hand. At the same tie, his left hand is at her eye level. While dancing to the beats of Merengue (a two-step beat), the partners have to bend their knees slightly left and right. This results in their hips moving left and right. Merengue is written in 4/4 time (4 beats to a bar of music and thus, 4 dance steps to a bar of music) and you move on every beat. Check out more on the steps and timing of the Merengue dance and learn how to do it.
Basic Merengue Movements
Merengue dance comprises of three basic movements, namely Side Basic Movement, Forward Basic Movement and Back Basic Movement. The combination of these movements, with small variations in body position, makes up the steps of the dance. In Merengue dance, a move comprises of eight steps and only after completing those eight steps can you change to some other move/movement. However, in some cases, the movement can be changed after four, or even two, steps.
Side Basic Movement
In the Side Basic Movement, the man will start the move placing weight on the right leg. At the first beat, he will step towards his left, onto the inside edge of his left foot. On the half beat, he will roll or put his left foot on the floor and changes weight from the right one to the left. As soon as the next beat comes, he will drag the right foot to close and come back to the position he started from. In this step, he will use the inside edge of the foot. The female partner will do complimentary steps i.e. she will side right and drag left to close.
Forward Basic Movement
Merengue dance is usually done after a Side Basic or Back Basic Movement. The male partner will start the Forward Basic with his weight on the right leg. At the first beat, he will step slightly forward, to the left, onto the inside edge of his left foot. He will roll or put his left foot on the floor on the half beat and change the pressure from the right to the left one. With the next beat, he will come back to the original position, by dragging the right foot forward, to close. The female partner will do complimentary steps i.e. the Back Basic Movement.
Back Basic Movement
Back Basic Movement is usually performed after completing a Side Basic or Forward Basic Movement. The male partner will start the Back Basic with his weight on the right leg. With the first beat, he will step back slightly, onto the inside edge of his left foot. On the half beat, he will roll or put his left foot on the floor and put the weight on it, changing from the right foot. The next beat will see him returning to the start position, when he drags the right foot back to close. The female partner will do complimentary steps i.e. the Forward Basic Movement.
- The female partner performs steps that compliment those of the male partner. For example, if he moves his left foot forward, back or side left, she will move her right foot back, forward or side right.
- While performing Merengue dance, it is always better to keep your upper body erect and as motionless as possible. This will add to the look of the dance.
- While doing Merengue, lay emphasis on your legs. At the same time, avoid thrashing about your arms.