How to dance merengue video

Digital Stage | The Kennedy Center

Enter terms to search videos

Play video

Play video

Play video

Play video

Play video

Play video

Play video

Play video

Play video

Play video

Play video

Play video

Play video

Play video

Play video

Play video

Play video

Play video

Play video

Play video

Play video

Play video

Play video

Play video

Rachael Price & Punch Brothers - Little Birdie | The Kennedy Center at 50

Ray Chen & the NSO - Mendelssohn Violin Concerto, mvt 3 | The Kennedy Center at 50

Ocean Away - Abigail Barlow, Emily Bear & Darren Criss | The Kennedy Center at 50

Quynn Johnson with SOLE Defined: Rhythm Is Our Business | The Kennedy Center

Dick Van Dyke In Conversation with Chita Rivera | The Kennedy Center Honors

Jon Batiste - "What A Wonderful World" w/ National Symphony Orchestra | DECLASSIFIED

Bernadette Peters on Sondheim | Follies at The Kennedy Center

Little Dancer Look-in: Tiler Peck and Rebecca Luker on Playing Marie

Lenny Kravitz - "Whole Lotta Love" (Led Zeppelin Tribute) | 2012 Kennedy Center Honors

Mandolin virtuoso Danilo Brito performs "Sussuarana" | The Kennedy Center

Honors Memories: The Schuyler Sisters honor the Hamilton Creators | 2018 Kennedy Center Honors

Honors Memories: Aretha Franklin honors Carole King | 2015 Kennedy Center Honors


  • Play video "Dear Theodosia" from Hamilton - Ben Folds & Regina Spektor with the NSO | The Kennedy Center

  • Play video John Legend with Lindsey Stirling: "All of Me" | The Kennedy Center

  • Play video Julia Louis-Dreyfus Acceptance Speech | 2018 Mark Twain Prize

  • Play video Dance Through the Lens | A Kennedy Center Digital Stage Original

  • Play video Broadway Center Stage: In the Heights | The Kennedy Center

  • Play video Mandy Harvey Performs "Smile" | The Kennedy Center

  • Play video Maz Jobrani: Just Iranian-American | A Kennedy Center Digital Stage Original

  • Play video Yo Aprendi: Danay Suarez, Ben Folds and Blake Mills with the National Symphony Orchestra

  • Play video Kendrick Lamar - "These Walls" w/ the National Symphony Orchestra | The Kennedy Center

  • Play video Cynthia Erivo - "Nessun Dorma" (Puccini) | LIVE at The Kennedy Center

  • Play video Renée Fleming - "In the Silence of the Mysterious Night" (Van Cliburn Tribute) | 2001 Honors

  • Play video Sara Bareilles - "Once Upon Another Time" with Ben Folds & Caroline Shaw | DECLASSIFIED

Highlights From The Kennedy Center Honors Special Playlist

  • Play video Jessye Norman - "Amazing Grace" (Sidney Poitier Tribute) | 1995 Kennedy Center Honors

  • Play video Bruno Mars - "So Lonely," "Message In a Bottle" (Sting Tribute) | 2014 Kennedy Center Honors

  • Play video Mavis Staples and Sam Moore - Take Me To the River (Al Green Tribute) | 2014 Kennedy Center Honors

  • Play video Jennifer Hudson - "I'm Here," The Color Purple (Oprah Winfrey Tribute) | 2010 Kennedy Center Honors

  • Play video Sting - "The Rising" (Bruce Springsteen Tribute) | 2009 Kennedy Center Honors

  • Play video Jon Stewart (Bruce Springsteen Tribute) - 2009 Kennedy Center Honors

  • Play video Beyoncé - "The Way We Were" (Barbra Streisand Tribute) | 2008 Kennedy Center Honors

  • Play video Celebrating 40 Years of The Kennedy Center Honors

  • Play video Dave Grohl and Norah Jones - Maybe I'm Amazed (Paul McCartney Tribute) - 2010 Kennedy Center Honors

  • Play video Kelly Clarkson - "Fancy" honoring Reba McEntire | 2018 Kennedy Center Honors

  • Play video Cyndi Lauper - "If I Could Turn Back Time" (Cher Tribute) | 2018 Kennedy Center Honors

  • Play video S. Epatha Merkerson & Jennifer Koh - "Knee Play 5" | 2018 Kennedy Center Honors

Merengue information, tips, free dance videos and music examples

See also:
Merengue DVD's & Videos >>

<< Learning Center Intro

Merengue is a fun dance and it’s very easy to learn. The old saying is that if you can walk, you can dance the merengue. Dancing the merengue is like marching where you step left right left right left right in time to the music. With one step taken to each beat of music, the basic step is very easy to learn. Being so easy to learn, merengue is very popular. Learn Cuban Motion from our free online video to achieve the action required to pull off the merengue correctly.

An Introduction to Merengue


Windows Media
Video Help
  • A Description of Merengue
  • The Character of Merengue
  • Merengue Music
  • History of Merengue
  • Tips & Info


Merengue music essentially has the tempo and rhythm of marching music. This is appropriate for the even tempo left, right, left, right, step timing. The music and the basic step may be counted: 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4. Counting to eight is also very popular. The basic step can be thought of as step, close, step, close, step, close, step, close. Most patterns require 4 beats or eight beats of music. Like disco music, merengue music has heavy down beats on every count. The music style is festive and happy and the music tempo is about 120 to 160 beats per minute.
<< Back to top

Going along with the festive character of the music, the dance figures can be spontaneous and very improvisational. They can also be sexy and a little wild. Acceptable figures can include pretzels, wraps, ropes, and tunnels. As the basic step is simply marching in nature, hundreds of figures are possible. Even so, many folks simply dance merengue in closed dance position only.

The key to looking good is in the body action. It’s not the moves you do but how you move that’s important. Learning the Merengue is a good way to start familiarizing yourself with Cuban Motion, which is the way that your body moves in all the Latin dances. Cuban motion, specifically hip action is an essential defining element of the dance. Cuban motion results from the alternate bending and straightening of the knees. As a knee bends, the same hip drops. As a knee straightens, the same hip is pushed up and out. Thus the hips move up and down. Again the secret is this: as a knee bends to release weight in preparation for stepping, the same hip should drop. The up and down hip action can be practiced by standing in place and alternately bending and straightening the knees.
<< Back to top


The music style is festive and happy and the music tempo is about 120 to 160 beats per minute.

Click on the link below for examples of a few Merengue songs and CD's which feature Merengue music.

Merengue Music Examples >>
<< Back to top


Merengue has its origins on the island of Santo Domingo. Both Haiti and the Dominican Republic claim to have invented it. Haiti claims that a great, war hero returned from battle with the neighboring islands. Unfortunately he had severely injured one of his legs in battle. At the victory feast and dance, everyone danced by dragging one leg so as not to embarrass or insult their hero. The Dominican Republic has a similar story. They claim that a prince was born with a lame leg and that his servants, so as not to insult him, would always dance by dragging one leg.

Regardless of its origins, merengue is one of the most popular and widely danced dances throughout Central and South America and the Caribbean islands. It is also popular in Latin Clubs and in dance studios in the United States.
<< Back to top


Common Mistakes:

  • Shaking or twisting the hips.
    In order to achieve Cuban motion the hips should move up and down naturally as a result of the bending and straightening of the knees.
  • Tilting the upper body back and forth like an inverted pendulum.
    Instead the shoulders should remain level during the dance.
  • Not getting the hip action.
    As each knee bends, the same hip must be allowed to drop. You can't dance correctly if you shuffle your feet. Instead, you must make complete weight changes with each step.

<< Back to top

Merengue - how to dance correctly

Merengue is one of the simplest social dances in Latin America. The rhythm and tempo of the music is quite fast, but at the same time, the movements are quite relaxed. Everyone who begins to memorize the basic merengue steps is puzzled - how to dance correctly. The most interesting thing is that beginners usually look at their feet or at their feet in order to do all the steps in the right order. The habit of looking at the floor is formed very quickly and is difficult to eradicate, and in meringue, eye-hand contact is very important. Knowing this, we decided to tell you how to dance correctly.

Correct lead: frame

In closed dances (partners are in a close position face to face) it is very important to maintain the correct position of the hands. It's called a "frame". The frame implies some tense construction of the partners' hands, which is maintained during the entire dance. In the closed position, the partner's elbow should be on top of the partner's elbow, while the girl puts her hand on the man's forearm or shoulder. Partners keep a straight line from elbow to wrist so that there are no "gaps" between their arms.

The frame must also be in an open position, the tension from the wrist to the elbow and from the elbow to the shoulder, as well as the precise fixation of the elbows, ensures the correct lead and guarantee that the partner will catch all the impulses and perform the element that is required of her. In order to correctly complete the closed frame, you must:

  • stand straight;
  • tighten the stomach and buttocks, stretch the top of the head up;
  • spread your shoulders back;
  • raise the right elbow;
  • fix the right hand on the partner's right shoulder blade.

Practice and confidence

At first, many dancers have some uncertainty in their movements, fear of mistakes, embarrassment, discomfort from increased attention. Leading partners experience special stress, as the confidence of their impulses determines the entire course of the dance. We recommend a lot of practice, working out all the smallest elements, even when you are sure that you know them well.

Self-practice of movements in front of a mirror will help you get used to the look of your body during the dance, notice shortcomings and correct them. In addition, practice helps in the development of muscle memory, when the body, by inertia, executes commands given by music and brain impulses.

Dancer in the center and center in the dancer

Your body movements should start from the center of the body, not in the arms. Both leading and following start from the body, from the point of balance, and the hands only help to keep a stable connection with the partner and transmit signals. Perform balance exercises, for example, the “swallow”, known to many since childhood, will help develop coordination and learn to feel balance. Perfectly help to improve the coordination of the body exercises from yoga "for balance", for example, "tree pose" or "warrior pose".

Soft hands

When dancing, hand grip plays an important role. Insufficient grip and sluggish "pasta" fingers not only look ugly, but also contribute to breaking the pair's bond during turns and movements with strong inertia. The grip of the hands should be strong, but at the same time soft and plastic, otherwise, by “grabbing” your partner, you will not only not be able to give him a signal, but both will feel discomfort and tension.

General rhythm

Beginning couples who are just learning how to dance merengue correctly often have the problem of a mismatch in rhythm. A fraction of a second and outwardly you are still dancing together, but inwardly you feel an unpleasant vibration. The internal rhythms of different people sound different, but when dancing to merengue music, it is important to find the general heartbeat of the dance.

Merengue - Dominican positive dance

Dominican ardent temperament

Dominican positive dance

Due to the enchanting combination of Latin American and African musical traditions, merengue differs from other Caribbean rhythms such as calypso, cumbia, salsa, sleep. Attractive in this rhythm, first of all, is lightness and cheerfulness. It is recognized by many that when the merengue starts to play, it is very difficult to restrain yourself and not try to make dance movements.

this is an improvisational dance

Merengue is mainly performed by a man and a woman, although it is not uncommon to see a solo performance as a colorful show. Pair dances captivate with their necessary intimacy with a partner, which in turn creates an acquaintance that can develop into something more in the future.

The Rise of Dance

Dance of the Dominican Positive

After the historical oppression of the 1930s, the merengue quickly gained sympathy among the Dominicans, gradually replacing other dance rhythms like the tumba. The latter was a rather complex dance, which required great physical effort from the performers, it featured more than ten figures.

From time immemorial, the dance was the following: partners, embracing each other, made movements in different directions and made turns to the right or left. This was called "salon merengue" in which the partners were never separated. In addition, there was another version of this dance called “figured merengue”, where the dancers performed a large number of decorating movements, but even here the couples represented a single organism.

The dance included three components: paseo, merengue and jaleo. Part of the paseo, when the couples went out to a slow melody, soon disappeared. Merengue, the main part of the dance, increased from 8-12 measures four times to 32-48. Haleo, the ending, was also changed by the inclusion of exotic rhythms and eventually ceased to exist.

There are currently three ways to dance merengue. The first is called "bien pegado", which is a very close contact, when in a whirling pair the partners press so hard that they become like a single whole. You can also dance in pairs, but not very close - this method is more suitable for those who are not yet familiar enough, as a result of which they are embarrassed to get closer. Well, the last method, “separado”, is conducted non-contact, at a considerable distance. At the same time, the presence of a partner is not even necessary, since this style came from countries where people know little about the merengue culture.

The basics of dance steps

Dance of the Dominican positive

The movements are not difficult and many people master the dance the first time.

Learn more