Thursday, September 17, 2009

Two dances we're learning in both Point Reyes and Petaluma folk dance classes pose an interesting conundrum: Gruchkoto is from Bulgaria, but moves and feels like a Greek dance while Troirou is a Greek dance with the energy, music, and swinging arms of Bulgaria. You can view a video of Troirou in the sidebar entitled "dance videos."

In the Latin ballroom dance class, we're learning basic Merengue moves. Merengue is the national dance of the Dominican Republic (and is danced as well in the neighboring island of Haiti). A combination of two dances, the African and the French Minuet, it originated in late 1700's. Black slaves saw the ballroom dances in the Big Houses and started mimicking them at their own festivities - but over time, they added a special upbeat provided by the drums. It is possible the name came from the confection made of sugar and egg whites due to the light and frothy character of the dance. By the middle of the nineteenth century, the Merengue was very popular not only in the Dominican Republic but throughout the Caribbean and South America.

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