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    Dance Moves - Merengue


    At StreetDance we attempt to teach beginners a standard choreography that can be applied in multiple dances. This allows the man to master his leads while diversifying the number of dances he can perform. The First sequence captures elements that need to be mastered before attempting more advanced moves.

    Many of the leads and body moves used in Merengue can be used in Mambo, Salsa, Cha Cha, Rock'n'Roll and Swing but for now we'll concentrate on the basic Merengue Sequences.

    The First Sequence

    Starting the sequence in closed dance (vals) position. Do a Curved Side Basic for 8 steps. Into a forward basic for 4 steps. Into a push away back basic, breaking into two hand position (4 steps). Into lady wrap (4 steps), with forward walks (4 steps). Complete with a lady unwind (4 steps), followed by forward basic (4 steps). Repeat the sequence or try a different combination of moves.

    Remember that most of the Latin dances are closely related and have a strong Congos basis. There was a time that the native dances were danced as a sexual pantomime. When performing the dance, you want to be close to your partner, and unless your performing a turn, never turn away from each other (your aim is to always be facing each other). Even though the man leads the whole dance, the idea in all moves, is that the man is trying to seduce the lady and she is pushing him away. Remember to keep a forward pressure between you and your partner. For the man it makes leading easier and for the lady, acceptance of the lead more intuitive.

    The Curved Side Basic

    This is the most basic and common move. Usually its performed for a full count of eight steps and is curved, so that on completion of the eight steps you have completed a full circle. The man moves around the lady. So, he needs to take slightly bigger steps than the lady. The move is performed in Vals (closed dance) position. Simply perform the side basic movement four times for a count of eight steps (see section on basic movemements). However, instead of simply stepping side man left; step at an angle. Step side but slightly forward. As you step, slightly twist your upper body following the direction of the turn. Then complete the move with right drag to close. The lady does complimentary steps. Side right but slightly back, left drag to close.

    The Push Away

    This move is used to convert from closed dance position into two handed position. Starting the sequence in closed dance (vals) position. Do a Curved Side Basic for 8 steps. Into a forward basic for 4 steps. On the next four steps both the man and woman perform Back Basic Movements. The man leads this by pushing away from the lady with his left hand. They fall into two hand position as the man releases the lady with his right hand and as he steps back slides his right hand along the ladies left hand until her hand falls into his (4th step). The lady does complimentary steps. On the last four steps of the Push Away, she steps backward away from the man. At completion of the move you are eight steps apart.

    The Lady Wrap

    This move can be used after converting from closed dance position into two handed position and you are eight steps apart. Throughout this move, keep hold of your partner's hands. The move simply requires the lady to walk four anti-clockwise steps (reverse half turn), so she ends up on the right hand side of the man, facing in the same direction as him. The man, simply performs the first four steps of the curved forward basic, as the lady turns.

    Assuming you have just completed the Push Away move, you are in two handed position, eight steps away from your partner. As you complete the move, the man lifts the lady's right hand (his left) bringing it across (to his right) so that it is raised above the ladies head and more or less in front of her. The lady steps forward right, closing left to perform a quarter turn. She repeats this sequence once. As the lady completes her last turn the man lowers her right hand in front of her. You should now be in the wrap position. You could finish the eight step sequence by simply unwrapping the lady (lady unwind), replicating a similiar sequence used in Cha Cha, but then you'd lose the seductive illusion of Merengue. Instead, keeping the wrap position, perform a forward curved basic for four steps. Then do the Lady Unwind, and return to closed dance position by performing a forward basic.

    The Lady Unwind

    There are numerous moves that end with either the man or lady in the wrap position. Usually, to return to the start position, whoever is "wrapped", simply reverses the steps they performed to become wrapped. Assuming you are in the Lady wrap position. The man raises the lady's right hand above her head and she steps forward right, close left making a quarter anti-clockwise turn. She repeats this sequence once, so that she ends up standing in front of the man. While she is doing this the man performs the curved forward basic.

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    Mambo, Cha Cha & Salsa | Merengue | Samba

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    This page was last updated November 2000
    copyright Paul F Clifford (2000)