Salsa is a syncretic dance form with origins from Cuba, as the original meeting point of European and African cultures. Its movements originate in Cuban Son, with strong influences from Mambo, Guaguanco, and other Afro-Cuban music. Salsa is normally a partner dance, although there are recognized solo forms, line dancing (suelta), and Rueda de Casino where groups of couples exchange partners in a circle. Salsa can be improvised or performed with a set routine.Salsa is popular throughout the world!
Merengue is a type of music and dance from the Dominican Republic. It is popular in the Dominican Republic and all over Latin America. Its name is Spanish, taken from the name of the meringue, a dessert made from whipped egg whites and sugar. It is unclear as to why this name became the name of the music; perhaps it can trace its meaning from the movement on the dance floor that could remind one of an egg beater in action.
Merengue was created by Ñico Lora, a Dominican of Spanish descent, in the 1920s. In the Dominican Republic it was promoted by Rafael Trujillo, the dictator from the 1930 to 1961, and became the country’s national music and dance style, while in the United States it was popularized by Angel Viloria and his band Conjunto Típico Cibaeño. It was during the Trujillo era that the popular merengue song “Compadre Pedro Juan”, by Luis Alberti, became an international hit.
Bachata is a style of dance that originated in the Dominican Republic. It is danced widely all over the world.
The basics to the dance are three-step with a Cuban hip motion , ended by a tap on the 4th beat just like in other Latin dances (salsa etc.). The knees should be slightly bend so the performer can sway the hips easier. The movement of the hips is very important because it’s a part of the soul of the dance. Generally controlled full body movement is crucially important in the dance, but most of it comes from the hips. In partnering, the lead can decide whether to perform in open or closed position , depending on the lead’s comfort position. Dance moves, or step variety, during performance strongly depends on the music (such as the rhythms played by the different instruments), setting, mood, and interpretation. Unlike Salsa (the most traditional Latin Dance), Bachata does not require many complex turns; although they are very well used when the musicality is understood and interpreted correctly. The leading is done just like in most other dances, with a “pushing and pulling” hand communication. If this is done correctly, the follower should clearly understand the intended direction. Although there is a lot of body movement in Bachata dancing, the hand communication is better understood when most of the movement is performed by the lower body (from waist down); i.e. hips and footwork.
The couple dance form of hustle is usually called New York Hustle or Latin Hustle. It has some resemblance to, and steps in common with, swing and salsa dancing. As in the Latin dances, couples tend to move within a “spot” on the dance floor, as opposed to following a line of dance as in foxtrot, or as opposed to tracking within a slot as in West Coast Swing or LA Hustle.
One similarity between hustle and swing is that the lead takes the rock step on his left foot; however, if the dance is taught by counting, the rock step happens at the beginning of the count – “and-one, two, three” rather than at the end of the count as in swing – “left, right, rock-step”. This can confuse beginner leads who are used to triple-step swing, because the lead rock-steps on the right side of his “track” in the swing basic but on the left side in the hustle basic.
The Cha-cha-cha is the name of a Latin American dance of Cuban origin. It is danced to the music of the same name introduced by Cuban composer and violinist Enrique Jorrín in 1953. This rhythm was developed from the danzón by a syncopation of the fourth beat. The name is onomatopoeic, derived from the rhythm of the güiro (scraper) and the shuffling of the dancers’ feet.
Cha-cha-cha may be either danced to authentic Cuban music, or Latin Pop or Latin Rock. The music for the international ballroom cha-cha-cha is energetic and with a steady beat. The Cuban cha-cha-chá is more sensual and may involve complex polyrhythms.
Styles of cha-cha-cha dance may differ in the place of the chasse in the rhythmical structure. The original Cuban and the ballroom cha-cha-cha count is “two, three, chachacha” or “four-and-one, two, three”. The dance does not start on the first beat. Nevertheless, many social dancers count “one, two, cha-cha-cha” and may find it difficult to make the adjustment to the “correct” timing of the dance.
Rueda de Casino (Rueda, Casino Rueda, Salsa Rueda) is a particular type of round dancing of Salsa. It was developed in Havana, Cuba in the late 1950s and early 1960s by the group Guaracheros de Regla and one of its main choreographers and creators was Jorge Alfaro from San Miguel del Padrón, a soloist of a comparsa.
Pairs of dancers form a circle, with dance moves called out by one person, a caller (or “líder” or “cantante” in Spanish). Many moves have hand signs to complement the calls; these are useful in noisy venues, where spoken calls might not be easily heard. Many moves involve the swapping of partners.