The Soldier’s Dance Essay

The Soldier’s Dance


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Introduction: A General Overview


Merengue is a fast, martial music, owing its (popular) origins to a war hero who had a wounded leg and thus could only make small sliding steps.   It has become popular in the Dominican Republic and Haiti and is the national dance of the former.   Its most basic step is to move your left leg to the side and let your other leg follow.   There are, however, basic positions and rules to follow.


Initial Position
Face your partner, raise both left arms at shoulder level, clasping at the hands.  For the man, the right hand should be at your partner’s hips, and for the woman, the right arm should be on your partner’s shoulder.


The Basic Movement


There are three rules to remember when dancing the Merengue - The Soldier’s Dance Essay introduction.  First, one must always be keeping in beat.   The dance has a 4/4 rhythm, and the dancer must step at each beat.  That means, there must be constant footwork.    For every turn or every variation, the foot must always move 1-2, 1-2, moving left, sliding from right.   Second is, the hips must sway from side to side.   This must coincide with the 1-2 footwork.   To accomplish this, one must be dynamically shifting weights when taking a step and sliding.   Since Merengue requires only small steps, this is relatively easy.  Third is, to keep the upper body level.   Do not tilt your upper body from side to side, vertically.   Move it from side to side, but only laterally.


To coordinate this, first practice alternating bending and stretching the knee with each step.   When the knee bends, the hip drops; likewise, as the knee stretches, the hip rises.   Start with the 1-2 step, shifting weight while alternately bending and stretching the knee, and consequently, alternately dropping and raising the hips.   At all times, the upper torso must be level.   So although the weights shift, and the hips move from side to side and drop and raise, the balance must be maintained in the upper body torso.


Once you have understood and have had some practice with it, you will be ready to dance the Merengue.  However, the best way to master the dance is to practice it constantly, studying the various variations and working it out slowly with a partner.  It’s actually very easy, and how the variations are formed is up to the dancer.








Baker, J. (2007, July 1). Learn to Dance Merengue [Video File].  Video Posted to


Heikkila, L. (n.d.) Merengue. Merengue: History of Dance.

Retrieved April 5, 2008 from




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