Dancing, we all love it! It is a practice held in almost every culture. This month was no different as we celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month, we too danced. When it comes to Latin dancing, its roots extend far into the past and wide into many cultures. A large influence undeniably comes from African dance, brought over during the height of The Atlantic Slave Trade in the Caribbean that was then mixed with Native and European influences.
Bachata is thought to have originated in the Dominican Republic in the early 1900’s; a mix of Bolero and African dance elements with Latin-Caribbean rhythms. It was often thought as a vulgar and crude dance attributed to the peasants and common folk, before becoming a popular form of social Latin dance.
Cumbia originated in Colombia, a cultural fusion of Native Colombian, African, and Spanish dance. It began as a dance of courtship among the African population which was later mixed with the dance steps of the Native peoples along with European and African musical characteristics. Now it is among the most popular forms of dance and music throughout Latin America, even creating new genres of music in Chile and Brazil.
Salsa is the most recently created dance style originating in New York, but its name is quite fitting. Much as eating salsa is a mixture of flavors, when dancing salsa one can see the mixture of influences that come from Cuba and Puerto Rico with dances such as Cha-cha, Rumba, and Mambo. When dancing Salsa you may encounter a variety different styles including Cuban, Colombian, Puerto Rican, L.A. and New York styles with varying timing, steps, foot patterns and turns.
These dances are but a few of the many Latin dances which are popular throughout Central and South America and even the world. Dance transcends distance, borders, and language. It’s universal in that anybody can enjoy it! We hope you’ll come out to future Multicultural Center events to learn more about culture, and if you’d like to learn more about dance check out SPYCD!
Bryan Szczerba is an avid dancer, Current Event Coordinator and Ballroom Dance Competitive Team Performance Coordinator for Stop Pretending You Can’t Dance (SPYCD), and a Former Multicultural Peer Advocate for the UT Dallas Multicultural Center.