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Cuban Dance Guide

Dancing in Varadero

Cuban dances are some of the most lively and passionate forms of dancing in the world today. These dances are characterized by delicate and sensual movements and provide both the practitioners and spectators with an unforgettable experience. Cuban dance is as unique as the music that accompanies it. Cuban culture is highly diverse and one of the most interesting ways to begin to understand Cuban people is by exploring, watching and trying the various dance forms which are popular here. One of the most fun and interactive aspects of Cuban culture is the dancing, and below are some of the different types you can enjoy.

History

Cuban dance takes its roots from the Spanish and African settlers that first arrived on the island, who brought with them the music and dances of their homelands. Through the years, these art forms have evolved into dance techniques that are distinctly Cuban and are considered to be some of the most popular and enjoyable dances today.

There are many kinds of Cuban dance styles and the dance techniques mentioned below are some of the best known dances that Cuba has to offer. Cuban African Dance – Because a large part of Cuba’s population are of African descent, it comes as no surprise that Cuba has its own form of creolized African dances. The Rumba is the most popular form of Afro-Cuban dance. The Rumba is characterized by a chorus of drums and the extensive use of the maracas. The Mamba is also a popular dance derived from the Rumba.

The Tango

The Tango has enjoyed popularity in different parts of the world but it has its roots in Cuba. The Tango was derived from the traditional Cuban dance called the Habanera and even though many people associate the tango with Argentina, many Cubans lay claim to this form of dance.

Bolero

This is an intimate dance which is slow and passionate. The pace of the steps varies greatly which makes it great fun to learn. This is one of the oldest and most traditional forms of Cuban dance and should not be confused with the Spanish dance which has the same name. This dance is performed at many dance competitions as well as amateur entertainment nights.

The Conga

The Conga is another popular dance that can be traced back to Cuba. It has been used extensively in discos and parties all over the world. Tourists to the country would do well to observe local performances. They can also try out these dances in many of the popular nightclubs that have recently reopened in the country.

A girl dancing in Varadero

 

Cha Cha Cha

This is one of the most famous dances in the world which makes it the one that most people are eager to learn or experience when in Cuba.

The Cha Cha Cha originates from the 1950s and can be attributed to one composer, Enrique Jorrin. The key concept of the Cha Cha Cha is that the dancers begins to move on the second beat as opposed to the first or fourth.

Mambo

The Mambo dance was developed to go alongside mambo music which evolved in the 1930’s. As mambo is generally danced to jazz music it usually involves fast and complicated moves which can be difficult to learn but a great way to express yourself.

Merengue

Although Merengue is not actually of Cuban origin it has been included here due to the frequency that it can be found in bars and dance clubs around Cuba which has made it a key part of Cuban culture. One of the major factors in the popularity of this dance is the fact that it is reasonably easy.

Ballet

These days, ballet is very important in Cuba as an art form and the worldwide fame of Carlos Acosta, the Cuban ballet dancer who is considered by many to be the best living ballet dancer in the world, including by both critiques and fans alike. Carlos was born in Havana but spends most of his time in England and often performs at the Royal Opera House in London, England (latest performances here).

In Cuba, the Ballet Nacional de Cuba are the main professional troupe and they often perform internationally and are highly rated. Domestically, they often perform in the Gran Teatro de La Habana (on the corner of Calle Paseo de Martí and Calle San Rafael, in the heart of Habana.

Belly Dance

Belly dance is not an original Cuban dance but it is a dance form which is being embraced now in some parts of Cuba. The passion of Cuban dance and the ability to isolate certain parts of the body is a trait that makes Cubans potentially very good as Raqs Sharqi and other belly dance styles.

Salsa Cuban Style


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