Merengue, the dance, evolved from Merengue music’s two-beat rhythm. The motion of the dance focuses on hip movements created by slightly bending alternating knees. An exaggerated Cuban motion is the predominant styling taught in most contemporary dance studios. Partners may then move either together or individually with an open connection. Intricate hand connections are helped by the focus on a calm upper body during the often fast paced music. This calmness also means that most turns take four beats.
The popularity of the dance led Rafael Trujillo designate it as the official music and dance of the Domincan Republic. This popularity also created numerous legends about the dance and its origins. One of the legends focuses on either the president of an unknown country or a limping war hero who was forced, due to old war injuries, to dance in the style of merengue. Other dancers, trying to be polite, imitated this man and unknowingly created the dance. This fantastic legend lends to the fact that the origins are not well documented, but have been passed down within the culture and add to the spirit of the dance.Click here for a list of Merengue classes offered.