I have a friend who teaches dance to children, he asked me if I could cover one of his classes. I was so excited that I jumped at the opportunity right away. Although I love dancing, I am not a dance teacher so I got myself into a cool challenge: to learn in a few days how to make sure children have fun while they learn one thing or two about Latino dancing.
Since I planned the class to feature only Latino dances, my friend mentioned that salsa and merengue are the easiest Latin dances to teach children so it was important to teach the two essential movements of those Latin-Caribbean dances: “Cuban motion and Contra-body action.”
Cuban motion what?
I have been dacing salsa and merengue all my life, and didn’t have any idea what those terms meant till my friend explained to me that “Cuban motion” also known as “Latin body action” is the swinging of the hips from right to left while the dancer alternates the bending and straightening of the knees. So, when a knee straighten then the same hip will need to rise, and when a knee bends, the same hip will drop. “Contra-body action” is basically the natural movement that your arms do when walking.
I worked on a playlist of songs that were easy for children to “pick up the moves” and have fun. I found some oldies but goodies songs with “catchy” dance routines and very well known in Latin America.
La vida es un carnaval (salsa)
Mi Tierra (salsa)
La dueña del swing (merengue)
Soy un hombre divertido (merengue)
Mayonesa (cumbia villera)
Sopa de caracol (salsa/rumba).
We had so much fun! The experience of teaching children about Latino dance was very rewarding for someone that comes from a place where dance is a huge part of the culture. Looking back, I wonder why dance is so integral of the Latino culture? Maybe because dance talks to us deeply, reminds us where we come from and is part of who we are.