Dance like nobody’s watching…

and that’s exactly what we did on Tuesday night when the KC was filled with Salsa, Merengue, and Bachata music!  Many thanks to Santiago Morales, Diana Solano, Angel Gonzalez, Manuel Angel, and Hiram alum Ronaldo Chavez for (patiently) leading us through an evening of dancing. We had a great time and enjoyed a taste of the culture we’ll be soaking in next week!  I look forward to seeing Team Caminante let their Dominican flair shine on the island.
Here are some pics of our future contestants on “Dancing with the stars”….  🙂   -Cristina

A little bit about dancing on the island…
While the DR has made historic contributions to the development of Salsa as a genre, Merengue and Bachata remain synonymous with the Dominican Republic. The cultural roots of Hispaniola fuel the history of this music and style of dances. Merengue, in particular, has deep-seeded roots in the political history of the island. This type of music and style of dance evolved significantly during the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo, who held power from the 1930’s until his assassination in 1961.

 

Here’s a little background on the history of Merengue:

        
        Scholars debate the exact location where Merengue dancing was born. According to the Salsa & Merengue Society, there is evidence of similar dances in the mid-1800s and early 1900s in Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Colombia; however, modern Merengue is based on the Dominican style.
        According to the Central Organization of Latin American Dance Awareness (COLADA), Merengue came from a mixture of the African musical influence of newly arrived slaves to the island of Hispaniola and traditional French Minuet dancing. Modern day Haiti and the Dominican Republic were formed from Hispaniola.
        According to COLADA, two stories relate to the development of Merengue. In one story, because slaves were chained together as they cut sugar cane, they had to drag one leg along, which was done to the beat of a drum. In the second story, a war hero returned to his village with a wounded foot. The village, honoring his return, celebrated by imitating his dragging foot step; eventually a dance style was created.
       During a time of political upheaval in the Dominican Republic, Merengue dancing was a national symbol of resistance. Dominicans used merengue as a means of holding on to cultural identity during the 8 years of American occupation from 1916 onward, according to the Salsa & Merengue Society. Even the upper class infused Merengue into their formal parties. This resulted in a conjoined cultural identity and a union among the classes.
      According to the Salsa & Merengue Society, Trujillo’s bid for the Dominican presidency in 1930 was strongly associated with Merengue music and dancing. Trujillo was able to infuse Merengue into almost every aspect of his campaign. He toured regions with Merengue musicians and Merengue bands were named after him, after he won the presidency. Trujillo was an avid Merengue dancer.
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