Used by Permission and adapted from the Dance Vision International Dance Association - American Style Rhythm Bronze Manual (MarB04).

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Ballroom Dance Info 

Dance Goals

Ballroom and Social Dance



Merengue is the Dominican Republic’s National Dance and dates prior to the mid-1800’s.  It was imported into the New York Latin dance clubs in the early 1940’s.  An old legend says the dance got its characteristic drag of the right foot out of respect to an old war hero who returned home with a badly wounded leg.

The Latin musician Juan Luis Guerra is credited with popularizing the easy-to-follow 1-2-3-4, 5-6-7-8 beat.  The music is played in 4/4 time at 29-32 measures per minute or about 120 beats per minute.  Each beat gets 1 count. Merengue is an easy and lively dance made up of “Latin Marching” steps that are usually non-progressive around the floor but it can travel line of dance.

Dance Characteristics:

Merengue is a fun and easy dance made up of simple steps.  It is primarily a non-progressive dance, is noted for its Cuban Motion, and is also characterized by its marching feeling.

Musical Information:

Time Signature: 4/4 

Tempo: 29-32 mpm

Count: 1 2 3 4, 5 6 7 8

Beat Value: 1 - 1 - 1 - 1, 1 - 1 - 1 - 1


Ball Flat throughout with the exception of Taps.  Toes should be slightly turned out.  Feet should be kept in contact with the floor using slight pressure.

Technical Tips:

Stand with weight poised slightly forward on the ball of the foot, stand up straight, shoulders relaxed and DO NOT tilt the shoulders and arms side-to-side in a water pump action.  Put emphasis on count 1 with a slightly wider step, a touch more of upper body movement, and a dragging of the other leg on count 2.

Steps use “ball-flat” footwork with downward pressure on the inside edge of the ball or toe.  Keep toes turned out slightly and the feet always in contact with the floor.  As in other Latin dances, it is danced with Cuban Motion (straightening of one knee, veering the opposite knee in towards the middle line, letting the hips rotate and settle on the side with the straight knee).

Some of My Favorite Merengue Songs:


Bronze Syllabus Figures:

1. Basic to Left Side: 1,2,3,4, 5,6,7,8
2. Back Rock (fifth position break – toe behind other heel followed by quick weight change from front to back to front).
3. Side Breaks
4. Arm Slide moving apart and then back together
5. Back to Back
6. Swivels (Straight and Turning)
7. Conga Breaks (Simple and Crossing) 
8. Merengue Glide
9. Forward Spot Turn
10. Back Spot Turn
11. Roll In and Out
12. Man’s Circle Wrap
13. Progressive Conga in 4 Directions
14. Face Loops
15. Man’s Duck Wrap

Variations for Social Dancing:

Take the basic march to both sides, moving forward and backward, and in small circles.  You can also bring in your East Coast Swing moves such as inside and outside turns, cradle, hammerlock, double face loops, etc.

A Suggested Dance Routine:

1. Basic to the side, 2. Side Breaks, 3. Back Rocks 4. Arm Slide 5. Swivels – straight, 6. Swivels – turning, 7. Back to Back 8. Conga Breaks – simple, 9. Conga Breaks Crossing Repeat routine and add your variations of turns, forward/back, circular basics.

CD Music Used in my Classes:

"Bandolera" by the Arthur Murray Orchestras on The Fabulous Ballroom Collection 1998

"Vem-Vem" by the Arthur Murray Orchestras on The Fabulous Ballroom Collection 1998

"The Fence" by the Arthur Murray Orchestras on The Fabulous Ballroom Collection 1998

"Conga" by The Columbia Ballroom Orchestra on Let's Dance 1988

"Merengue" by Michael Lloyd & Le Disc on Ultimate Dirty Dancing 2004

"Crazy Love" by Paul Simon on Graceland 1986

"Da Le Yaleo" by Santana on Supernatural 1999 (the CD Supernatural has several good Merengues, Rumbas and Cha Chas)