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Dances of Puerto Rico

Music and dance have always played an import role in lives of Puerto Ricans. And as with many countries, influences from all over the world have assisted in shaping music and dance to what it is today. The Taino had a great influence on the musical instruments in Puerto Rico, especially the guiro. The classic Spanish guitar also evolved within Puerto Rico, to become a cuatro, requinto, triple and a bordonua. But the most famous rhythm and dance that originated from Puerto Rico, is the Salsa.

When thinking about a tropical or exotic destination, one always imagines the hypnotic beats of the drum and beautiful dark haired dancers intoxicating your senses with their unbelievable moves and rhythmic showcases. And it is always the Salsa that seems to liven a party and get the dancers on the floor. The Salsa, which was drawn from the African-Caribbean and Cuban beats, was discovered and put together, not in Puerto Rico, but by Puerto Ricans that were living in the city of New York at the time. Once Salsa music hit the circuits with their foot tapping beats that roared from the conga drums, maracas, claves and horns, critics were not kind. But with any good rhythm, it prevailed and is still an important and frequently danced style in Puerto Rico, and the world.

Bomba was mostly danced on weekends and most Bomba dancers would poke fun at the ladies of the manor, by raising their skirts, to resemble the attire worn by the wives of the plantation owners. The Bomba started in the seventeenth century, while the Plena is only approximately a hundred years old. It is also known as the El Periodico Cantado, which means the sung newspaper, as these dances would tell stories, recount memories and be a record of the daily lives of the working class Puerto Rican.

The dance of the elite, was the Bailes de Salon, or Ballroom Dances. Landowners and the well to do of Puerto Rico, would engage in the dances that would become known as the Danza. These classic dances would include the Waltz, Contradanza, Rigodon, Cachucha and the Minuet. Puerto Rican musicians decided to compose their own and unique music to accompany the Bailes de Salon dances, and so the era of Danza was born. Puerto Rico is not any different to other cultures, that express their sorrow, joy, hardship and battles, through dance and heart stopping rhythms, but it is their own sound and the stories they tell, that make their dances their own, and are a spectacular sight to see.


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