Dancing Culture In Dominican Republic Essay

Question:

Discuss about the Dancing Culture in Dominican Republic.

Answer:

Introduction

The Dominican Republic can be defined as s sovereign state which is located in the Hispaniola Island. The state is popularly known for its unique music style and genre known as meringue. Merengue, which is the national dance and music of the Dominican Republic, can be defined as a fast-paced rhythmic, lively dance music which is consist of a tempo between 120 and 160 beats per minutes. Initially, this dance form was rejected by the elite class of the Dominican Society and was considered to be vulgar and dance of the masses (Gregory, 2014). However, the famous Merengue politician Trujillo had changed the misconception by putting the mentioned dance form on centre stage in majority of his events and parties. The mentioned dance performance is chiefly performed with the help of various local and global musical instruments.

While two of the chief local instruments used are Guira and Tambora, some of the frequently used international instruments for Merengue are Accordion, brass, drums and other chorded instruments. Bachata is another music and dance form of the Dominican Republic. This dance and music form has gained popularity over the years. The subjects of Bachata songs are highly romantic, generally heartbroken tales. In fact, initially, this dance and music form was named as ‘Amargue', a Dominican term which means sadness and bitterness (Berberena, 2014). While Bachata and Merengue are two of the most popular dance and music form of the Dominican Republic which have gained popularity across the world, Sarandunga, Guarapo and Sarambo are popular folkloric dance form of the state. The four musical instruments that are played during Sarandunga are one Guiro and three small drums.

In Merengue dance, the man leads. The woman is held by man with the right hand and the dance involves swaying of hips sensually by the couple left right. However, one of the strict rules of this dance form is that the torso cannot be swung. Without releasing the hold of their hands, the couple turns and occasionally, step side to side. The woman's job in this dance form is just to follow the cues while maintaining posture and sway the hip while maintaining the step (Hernandez, 2014).

Bachata is a dance form that includes a good number of instruments like guitars, bongos, drums and Guira is a three step dance with a fourth tap step. Like Merengue, Bachata dance also involves two partners. Here also the man leads. As they move their body, the couple stays closer. They move their hips while forming a square-like structure with their feet. This dance form involves pull and push with the hand. Some of the highly renowned Bachata dance artists who have taken this dance form on the national stage are Juan Luis Guerra, Raul?n Rodr?guez, Anthony Santos, Luis Vargas and Frank Reyes.

Unlike the above mentioned dance forms, Sarandunga dance can be performed both by a couple and a group of individuals at a time. In this dance, the woman is the centre of attraction. While dancing, the woman coyly rejects the advances of her partner by pushing him with her shoulder gently. The woman never looks up while dancing and the man waves a handkerchief at her while standing tall. Apart from her feet, the body of the woman does not move. When eventually the shoulders of the partner's touch, the dance converts to a game.

When it comes to Guarapo and Sarambo dance form, both are tap dances. The only difference between the above mentioned dance forms is that Sarambo is faster paced than Gauarapo. In both the dance form, only one couple can participate at a time. The choreography involves the partners to approach each other only to step away (Snodgrass, 2016). While the man keeps his hand to his sides while dancing, the woman moves while lifting her skirts above her knees.

The Bachata form of music and dance originated in the rural marginal neighbourhood and Countryside of the Dominican Republic. According to several researchers, the term Merengue originated from African dances during the colonial period (Hutchinson, 2015). Considering the fact that Merengue has a good number of genres, the traditional, folkloric kind of Merengue, known as Perico ripiao or merengue t?pico is believed to be originated during the end of 19th Century in Cibao region. When it comes to Sarandunga, this dance and music form is inspired by the dances of Spanish peasants. The origin of both Guarapo and Sarambo dance forms in Spain.

Occasion for the dance

The Merengue Festival takes place every year in July at both Puerto Plata and Santo Domingo. This dance festival lasts for a whole week. Dances are performed by the dancers on the street and open stages. Competitions for the array of honors are held on the basis of choreography, originality and fluidity. Not only the dancers but common people along with the tourists also participated in the mentioned occasion. Being a popular tourist spot, the Bachata festival is held in the state in order to attract tourists and encourage recreation. In Touch Island, a festival is held during the May, every year where all the attendees accumulate to show their dance forms (Farrell, 2014). Not only that, every year the Dominican Republic Bachata Festival is held in the state. During this festival, parties are held in local clubs where a good number of local people along with visitors from different countries participate. Due to the high demand for the festival, the demand for the tickets of the festival remains high. While Bachata and Merengue festivals are purely held for entertainment, the Sarandunga festival, popularly known as Saint’s festival can be considered as a manifestation of religious devotion to Saint John, the Baptist. Every year the members of Bani brotherhood of Peravia province organize the mentioned festival to show reverence and love for the saint. Every year, the Saint Dance festival is held on 25th June and ends on 25th June. Guarapo and Sarambo dance forms are performed in various celebrations of rural occasions.

During the performance of the Merengue dance form, the man is generally dressed in standard dark slacks along with button down shirt. The woman, on the other hand, is dressed in colorful, body-hugging costumes not only to show off the movement of the dance form but also to complement the liveliness of the song. However, the costume of the dances depends largely on the location of their performance. In cultural festivals, the woman wears wide, flowy long skirts along with traditional peasant tops (Hutchinson, 2012). The color of the dress is chosen bright and warm, in order to reflect the liveliness of the dance form. Men are generally dressed in shirts and pants complementing the color of the dress of their partners.

Bachata dance form, being a highly sensual and intimate dance form involves a lots of body contacts. Generally dress worn by both the male and the female dancers while performing to highly body revelling, sensual and comfortable in order to provide a free range of motion. During the festivals, the women generally wear short dresses or skirts that have a lot of fringes attached to it. The men are generally dressed in body hugging shirts and pants (Garrido & Bendrups, 2013). During the performance of Sarandunga dance form, women wear flowy and wide gowns and men wear traditional peasant dress. When it comes to Guarapo and Sarambo, women are dressed in flowy frocks and men get dressed up in a unique traditional costume.

References

Berberena, M. (2014). Dominican Gag? music and dance: The remaking of a spiritual performance in the city of New York. City University of New York, 34-37

Farrell, B. D. (2014). Carnaval in the Dominican Republic. ReVista (Cambridge), 13(3), 37.

Garrido, W., & Bendrups, D. (2013). Transcultural Latino: Negotiating Music Industry Expectations of Latin American Migrant Musicians in Australasia. Musicology Australia, 35(1), 138-152.

Gregory, S. (2014). The devil behind the mirror: Globalization and politics in the Dominican Republic. Univ of California Press, 56-58

Hernandez, D. P. (2014). Urban Bachata and Dominican Racial Identity in New York. Cahiers d'?tudes africaines, (4), 1027-1054.

Hutchinson, S. (2012). “A limp with rhythm”: Convergent ChoreogrAphies in BlACk AtlAntiC time. Yearbook for Traditional Music, 44, 87-108.

Hutchinson, S. (2015). Salsa world: A global dance in local contexts. Temple University Press, 234

Snodgrass, M. E. (2016). The Encyclopedia of World Folk Dance. Rowman & Littlefield, 12-22

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