Cuban Culture And Their Many Dances

Cuba’s National Center of Schools of Art has two ballet schools and a modern dance school. In fact, the Cuban National Ballet School, located in Havana, is the largest ballet school in the world, with approximately 3,000 students. The Nacional Ballet de Cuba, started by the outstanding dancer Alicia Alonso in the 1930s, performs throughout the world and is renowned for its talented dancers. Other notable ballet companies in Cuba include the Ballet Folklórico de Oriente in Santiago and the Camagüey Ballet.

History and Dance Styles
The origins of Cuban dancing date back to colonization, when the Spanish arrived with new instruments (guitars and violins) and different melodies. Punto campesino (peasant dances) emerged from the interaction of Spanish music with Afro-Cuban culture. These dances include the zapateo, yambú, and danzón, which was the first Cuban dance where couples touched one another. Developed in Matanzas in the late 19th century, the danzón is now the official dance of Cuba. It’s a slow, elegant looking affair, where the man holds the woman’s hand high and leads her through a series of matching steps.

Other Cuban dances include the guaguancó, a rumba that has all sorts of sensual undercurrents, and the mambo. Mambo developed in Cuba and originated from the son style of music. It was created in 1938 and gradually made its way into the U.S. in the 1950s, where it gained widespread popularity. These days, mambo feels slightly outdated in Cuba and is mainly danced by older people.

Although salsa actually originated in New York (thanks to Puerto Rican and Cuban influences), it’s very popular in Cuba. This comes as no surprise since its movements are related to mambo, son, and cha-cha-cha. Salsa is likely to be the most familiar dance to travelers, and is what you’ll see being performed at dance clubs around Cuba. It’s a quick, smooth, and seductive dance between partners. Cuban salsa is especially known for its above-the-waste movements, including shoulder and torso motions.

2 thoughts on “Cuban Culture And Their Many Dances

  1. This is the reason I like visiting sunbelz because of the authentic topics. Glad that the owner don’t follow others but bring unique subjects to the audience.


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