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CULTURE COLLECTIVE: Latin American Dance Styles

Latin American dance styles are some of the most iconic dance styles in the world. Here is some interesting background information about some of them.


Samba: The Samba is a Brazillian dance style that has West African roots. It is recognized as a symbol around the world of the Brazilian Carnival, which is an annual Brazilian festival celebrated at the beginning of Lent. There is also a National Samba Day in Brazil, which is celebrated on December 2.


Merengue: Derived from the Domican Republic, Merengue is a social dance that arose in the early 20th century. Originally the dance was typically done to guitar music, but by the 1940s, accordions became associated with the dance style.


Cha-Cha-Cha: The Cha-Cha-Cha, or simply the Cha-Cha, is a popular Latin American dance of Cuban origin. The name of the style itself describes the shuffling sound that comes from the dancers’ feet when they perform two consecutive quick steps on the fourth count of each measure, which is a staple of the Cha-Cha.


Argentine Tango: Not to be confused with the modern Tango dance that derived from this style, the Argentine Tango is a social dance that originated in the late 19th century in Buenos Aires and Montevideo. This is a very popular style of dance and music that is favored by many musicians such as Carlos Gardel, Francisco Canaro, and Juan D’Arienzo.


Salsa: Although the Salsa originated in New York City in the 1960’s, this dance style derives from a combination of Cuban dances and American Jazz dances. There are many variations of the Salsa style today, including Colombian style, Afro-Latino style, and Miami style.


Mambo: The Mambo is another Cuban dance style that derives from the 1940’s. Mambo dancing is often done to mambo music, which derives from the late 1930’s. Typical Mambo instruments are the piano, double bass, timbales, and conga.


Rumba: The Rumba is yet another Latin American dance style that derives from Cuba. In the late 19th century, the word “rumba” was used as a synonym for the “party,” but it eventually became a popular dance all across North and South America. Today, the Rumba is often danced to pop and jazz music.



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