Whenever fitness is brought up in conversation, it is usually met with great enthusiasm, or people cringe at the idea. Growing up, field hockey was one of my favorites with its focus on skill, teamwork, and strategy. I admit that I find treadmills, five-mile runs, and weightlifting very off-putting. The social aspect of a team is far more appealing to me than a solitary run.
However, I’ve always been fascinated by dance, which you could do alone in your PJ’s and no one would (need to) know. Recently, I’ve discovered an exercise routine that exposes you to different world music genres with the fun of dancing: Zumba. Its hour-long routine creates a cultural experience with salsa, merengue, hip hop, belly dancing, pop music, and many predominantly Latin musical elements.
Zumba was accidentally created in the 1990s. Its Colombian founder, Alberto Beto Perez, left music for his “traditional” aerobics class at home, and instead choreographed a routine with salsa and merengue, which he carried in his backpack.
SALSA – Origins in Cuba with strong influences from African culture. For an in-depth history, you can read more here.
MERENGUE – Country of origin: Dominican Republic. Also popular in Haiti. The folklore goes that the dance originated with chained slaves who had to a drag or hop on one leg while cutting sugar to drum beats.
CUMBIA – Started in Colombia (popular in Panama as well), but highly influenced by African culture. In Africa, the Guinean ‘cumbe’ (dance) was a courtship dance.
FLAMENCO – Andalusia, Spain. Characterized by passion/romance, gypsy influences, colorful ensembles, and a flair for drama, as its roots formed in theater.
SAMBA – Founded in Brazil with strong ties to African culture. Very popular in Rio de Janeiro, as you can often hear it during Carnival and soccer.
REGGAETON – Rooted in Puerto Rico and Panama. Mixes hip hop, Latin music (salsa) and Jamaican pop style (dancehall).
To get a taste of the music, iTunes has free previews of popular Zumba songs: http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/zumba-fitness/id268002889
What dance styles do you enjoy? What can music teach about a culture? How does it create a (sub)culture?