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Caribbean Music & Dance

Caribbean dance and music complement each other well. This is the case when new dance styles emerge. In fact, dance styles are frequently named after the music that inspired them. Music played in dance clubs throughout Jamaica frequently serves as the impetus for new styles. These new styles often quickly change after their inception. Sometimes, new styles are named after songs.

Traditional dances such as the limbo are usually faddish for a short period of time. New dances are frequently developed in rural areas. New styles developed in Jamaican dance clubs, for example, are considered urban or city influenced.

Understanding the fundamentals of Latin dancing is usually enough for people interested in Caribbean dancing. People living in the Caribbean participate in modern, classical, and traditional dancing.

Salsa and tango dancing are part of Latin Americanís rich culture, and the Caribbean also has a distinctive dance culture. Popular dancing in the Caribbean includes ballet, ballroom, and street dancing.

Formal Dancers

Although festival and street dancing are the most well-known form of dancing throughout the Caribbean, tourists interested in enjoying more formal dancing can find various venues that sponsor it, but the most talented performers often travel to other parts of the world.

There are numerous forms of dancing throughout the region but ballet and folk dancing are the most popular forms. Swan Lake is a popular ballet, and Jamaican jonkonnu dancing is a popular form of folk dancing throughout the Caribbean.

Many Caribbean dance troupes perform throughout the world and introduce people attending these shows distinct Caribbean styles. As a result, people do not necessarily have to travel to the Caribbean to enjoy its unique culture.

In Caribbean ballet performances, local cultures are often infused into them. For example, beautifully decorated costumes are worn by members of the world renowned Ballet Martiniquais. National Folkloric Ballet groups can also be found in Puerto Rico and Aruba. Those traveling to Puerto Rico can enjoy the historic Ballet Concierto de Puerto Rico.

Many dancers from the Caribbean have gone onto to perform with world famous ballet groups. Alicia Alonso, one of Cubaís most famous ballerinas, had a brief stint dancing with New York ballet groups until going home to Cuba to be a part of the countryís national ballet.

Another Caribbean ballerina, Michele Jimenez, is a part of the Washington Ballet. She is originally from the Dominican Republic.

People from the Caribbean migrating to different parts of the world have brought their unique dance culture with them. For example, Torontoís Ballet Creole combines Caribbean and African styles to create a truly distinctive dance form.

Local Dances

Music can be heard wherever people congregate in the Caribbean. Distinctive musical styles can be found on each island, but each musical style is designed for dancing.

Latin Beats

Mambo dancing was a huge craze in Havana during the last decade and later became popular in Harlem. This dance style eventually was transformed into salsa dancing. Distinctive elements of Caribbean and African culture have been mixed in with salsa dancing, but it is still similar to mambo dancing.

Meringue dancing originated from Haiti and the Dominican Republic. However, two separate stories exist about the danceís origins. According to one tale, a group of people began imitating an injured war veteran out of pity for him after he struggled to dance at a celebration. However, some people claim the dance originated from the slave plantations. While they were working in the sugar fields, slaves would slowly move their feet to a drumís beat as they walked across the plantations with heavy chains around their feet.

Meringue dancing is very easy to learn. Because little space is required to perform the dance, people on crowded dance clubs can try it out. Bachata dancing is a mixture of bolero and meringue dancing.

The rumba is a slow and sultry style of dancing where only a small dance floor is required. On the other hand, a more up tempo form of dancing combing elements of the mambo and rumba is known as the cha cha.

French Rhythms

Zouk music and dance was inspired by Brazilian lambada but originated in the French speaking areas of the Caribbean. This form of dance combines salsa, meringue, and reggae dance with a speedier beat. In fact, translated from French Creole the word zouk means party.

Beguine dancing is a slower version of the rumba originating in Martinique and Guadeloupe. Cole Porter wrote a song about beguine dancing that popularized it.


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