The History of Dance in Cuba

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Modern Cuban dance styles emerged when European settlers and African slaves came to Cuba in the 16th century. African and Europeans fused traditional dances to form a distinct and unified Cuban culture.

Habanera

  • Named after its 19th century birthplace in Havana, the slow and graceful habanera dance has roots in English contradanza performed in ballrooms. The opera "Carmen" has a number called "habanera."

Danzón

  • The danzón, introduced in the late 1870s, became the official dance of Cuba and contains off the beat and slow, but flirtatious, steps.

Rumba

  • Slightly faster than the danzón, the rumba emerged during the 1920s as a frantically paced dance for its time.

Son

  • Son began in the 1930s with rural Cubans who danced close together and off beat while accentuating hip movement. It later influenced mambo, cha-cha and salsa dancing.

Mambo

  • This up-tempo dance became popular during the 1940s among North American vacationers to Cuba. Mambo utilizes the same diamond pattern of foot movements as the rumba.

Cha-Cha

  • An offshoot from the mambo, the cha-cha of the 1950s uses off the beat steps in 4/4 time with exaggerated hip movement and foot shuffling.

References

  • Photo Credit hoyasmeg: Flickr.com; Carrington Vanston: Flickr.com; gnuckx cc0: Flickr.com
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