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4 OF THE
JERRY C. THOMAS
MANAGER & PRINCIPAL INSTRUCTOR AT THE
"JERRY'S DANCE STUDIO"
MEMBER OF THE ACADEMIC DES MAITRES DE DANSE DE PARIS
AND AFFILIATED ARTISTS, INC.
THE PURPOSE of this booklet is to serve the public.
The author has become increasingly aware of the growing
interest throughout the world in the HAITIAN MERINGUE.
Those who have visited the little island of Haiti know it
first-hand ; they have taken it home to all parts of the world
together with recordings of the music to which it is danced.
It is an exciting, contageous rhythm and all who have danced
to it or heard about it express a desire to learn more.
Bearing this in mind, this booklet is offered for your
further enlightenment, instruction and explanation. It will
enable you to become an exponent of the new dance which is
growing in popularity to the point of becoming a craze, and
it is so simple to learn and such fun to dance. Be one of
the first to know I
The first part of the booklet is devoted to understanding
the theory of the Quick Meringue and the second part
covers the Slow Meringue, and the sources from which they
come. Knowing one or both will enable you to say "Let's
dance the Haitian Meringue" whether you find yourself in
one of the night clubs of Port-au-Prince. New-York, Paris.
London or Rio I To KNOW is to ENJOY I
*Theoretically, instructions herein are for the man the
partner, the lady, follows closely from the opposite position.
* The position of the partners is the normal position assumed
for any other form of dances.
* The dotted lines indicate the foot in movement, its turn or
return to position.
* The arrows indicate the direction of the movement.
In the diagrams, the left foot is indicated in white: the
right in black.
" The numerals indicate the number of steps or the count
for each figure.
HAITIAN MUSIC stems directly from African Rhy-
thms. Divested of mysticism, its traditions and beliefs form
the folklore basis from which the Haitian Meringue, the
typical social dance, is derived.
Among the new so-called Latin American dances, it is
the easiest to learn, and the most gratifying to dance. The
HAITIAN MERINGUE is FUN ; it is SOPHISTICATED:
it makes the blood run faster and leaves you in a sentimental
Depending upon where it is danced, it has undergone
some changes, yet it has but two tempos and several rhythms.
The music is played in both 2/4 and 4/4 time, one movement
per count. There is the QUICK MERINGUE and the SLOW
The Folklore rhythms are very numerous ; some are used
for social dancing, as above, others are accompanied by lyrics,
now merry, now sad, and sung by the mountain folk as a
form of recreation.
The sad songs have their place in the VOUDOO CE-
REMONIES, exemplifying the beliefs and practices of the
old cult. The Voudoo Ceremony is concerned with spiritual
forces in the Universe and the harmonious relationship with
those forces in the individual.
There are numerous folklore rhythms, each with a special
basic step which distinguishes one from the other. The most
popular are :
Congo Dance Ibo Dance Mayoyo Dance
Nago Dance Mais Dance Petro Dance
Yanvalou Dance Quita Dance Martinique Dance
Quadrille Dahomey Dance Banda Dance
Of these the ones most used in the Haitian Meringue
in the Quick Tempo are: Ibo, Quadrille and Coye... The
tempos and rhythms of the Haitian Meringue are captivating,
and, according to the whim of the dance, allow for wide and
The most important instrument used for the Haitian
Meringue, besides the Maracas, is the conic drum which
sets the rhythm. In Voudoo Ceremonies this drum is conside-
red as a sacred and magic instrument from which through the
drummer's fingers, the vibrations reveal his innermost thoughts
and give significance to the religious symbolism pervading
the whole Ceremony.
There are three types of drums used in the Voudoo
and Folklore Rhythms :
The main conic one is called "MAMAN". At times
the drummer uses a short wooden stick called "PIQUET"
with which he strikes the edge of the drum to produce more
The other two drums used with the "Maman" are
called "Boula" and "Second". The drummers beat them with
thin wooden drumsticks.
In addition, there is a much larger drum, taller than a
man, which is used in the Ceremonies. Its name is "ASSO-
TOR" and it represents a powerful God of the Voudoo Rites,
the God of Hounfor. "AROUND THE ASSOTOR" .is a
dance, combined with other Folklore
Dances, in honor of lie God. In order to
reach tile drumhead, the drummer-dancers
are forced to leap up into the air, drumsticks
There is another truly sacred instrument
in Vodoo Ceremonies called "the ASSON"
It's a calabash with a natural handle which
is wrapped up in a net made in porcelain
beads. By shaking it, a tinkle of a tiny metal
bell is produced accompanied by a frail
The instrument assumes strong authority
in Voudoo Ceremonies. Its echo calls the spi-
rits down to earth. The Rattle accelerated of
the ASSON cause "possessed" participants
to move dance and sometimes to leap. The
Rattle relaxed calms the movements of the
The other instruments used in playing the
Haitian Nl ri;tL'.u music are the Flute, the
Accordion, the Maniboula (an ancien ins-
trument replaced today by the Violoncello).
Sometimes the orchestra will include the
"VACCINES" (tubes of Bamboo), the
"LAMBI" (shell of conch used as a wind
instrument) and the "TAMBOURINE".
and the Ogan (a little piece of iron) which
is used particularly for the Folklore Dances.
OIF THIE HAMAIIN MERRNGI~UE
BASIC STEPS OF THE QUICK
BASIC STEPS OF THE SLOW
Natural and reverse turn
Contrary hip movement
Fancy head movement
Country dance variation
Forward and backward movement
Simple Balance Yoyo
Double Balance Yoyo
Some lij pical. TnsAumenT;5
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,Ls play ect ",
STYLE OF THE QUICK MERENGUE
It is important to study the style first, in order to master
the typical body movements used in this dance.
a) STRIKE THE HEELS ON THE FLOOR
b) BEND THE KNEES SLIGHTLY
c) SWING THE HIPS
Basic Movement : Follow the rhythm of the drum, the basic
instrument of the HAITIAN MERINGUE.
which sets the heat.
1. Stand erect, lift the heels, one after the other, and
tap them on the floor.
2. Continue this and bend the knees slightly without
3. Swing the hips from side to side following the tempo
set by the drum... to the left when the weight of the body
rests on the left leg: and to the right when the weight shifts
to the right leg.
The partners will be in close harmony while dancing the
HAITIAN MERINGUE only when they swing their hips
together without moving their shoulders.
The gaiety and charm of this dance originates in its STYLE.
- 13 -
The sideward steps are very short and are made by sliding
the foot on the floor.
Stand erect; beat the count with your heels and swing
hips on both sides : count 4 with left foot, if starting on left
I.-Take a step to left
START To LEFT.... with left foot, sliding
the sole across the
2.-Join right foot to left
Repeat this movement 4
<- times on the left side, swing-
ing the hips from side to
side in rhythm.
Again, beat the count
.... I-IHT with your heels in place,
swinging the hips. Count 4
and with the right foot step
to the right.
l.-Step with right foot
to the right side. slid-
ing sole across floor.
2.-Join left foot to right
Repeat 4 times on right side, with continuous hip movement
from side to side in rhythm.
Vhen this movement, on both sides, has been completely
mastered it may be repeated at will without counting.
In its original, this movement is accompanied always by an
outright swing of the hips, but must not be exaggerated.
The lady follows the partner with corresponding steps
VARIATION for c LADY ONLY
NATURAL AND REVERSE TURN : This variation is made after
the four sideward steps to each side.
In place, beating the count with the heels, the man leads the
lady with his hands; the lady turns around herself to the
rhythm of the music, from right to left, or left to right, depend-
ing upon which side the man is leading toward.
NATURAL TURN :
1. Move the left foot before the right foot.
2. Lightly and quickly pivot with the sole of the right foot
while continuing to swing hips from side to side.
3. Continue to turn to right side by a quarter turn on the
sole of the left foot with
the right foot continuing
"f ^ the light, quick pivot.
At the end of six counts
S the lady must be back in
2.1 her partner.
s / this pivot, the lady moves
Sunder the left arm of the
S man who is holding the
START lady's hand at the level of
REVERSE TURN : After four steps on the left side, the lady
pivots herself in the same manner, passing under the right arm
of the man, who holds the lady's left hand at head level.
Both turns are executed as a delayed action but with the
continued swinging of the hips on each count.
CONTRARY HIP MOVEMENT : The contrary hip move-
ment is an advanced variation of the side steps.
The side steps are made at the same
tempo. The difference is that the hips
do not swing at both sides. There is
only an accented hip swing with the
right hip when the steps are to the left,
and a full hip swing of the left hip ,
when stepping to the right.
The movement has two counts :
1 count : COMPLETE RELAXA-
TION OF THE BODY.
2 count : QUICK STRAIGHTEN- Movement to the left
ING OF THE BODY (Silhouette 1)
1. Take a step to left side with left foot, bending left knee,
keeping right leg straight. The right hip swings naturally.
2. Bring right foot up to left one by straightening the body.
Repeat four times...
- 17 -
1. Take a step to right side with right
foot, bending right knee, keeping right
leg straight. The left hip swings
Movement to the right
2. Bring left foot up to right one by straightening the body.
- 18 -
This word indicates HEAD MOVEMENTS from right
to left sides in time to the side stepping.
1. 1 While stepping on left foot to the
left side, turn head to left side.
2. While bringing
foot. turn head
right foot up to left
back to right, and
(Note : it is not necessary to repeat
3. In the QUICK
tempo, do the
same when step-
ping to the right.
3 asic cteps
This movement is accomplished with a slight slide and
an accentuated flexing of the knees, then quickly joining
the feet together as the legs are straightened.
While accentuated, the flexing and straightening must not
be exaggerated ; otherwise the effect will be grotesque.
1. Slightly flex the knees and take a sliding forward step
with the right foot.
2. Raise the heel of the left foot, which is behind the right
5. Straighten the legs, bringing the left foot, upon comple-
ting the sliding step with the right foot, up parallel
with the right foot.
4. Again flex the knees while taking a sliding forward
step with the right foot forward.
5. Straighten legs again as left foot is brought up to posi-
tion next to the right foot.
6. Continue to turn six times, rising and falling, with the
right foot resting flat forward as the heel of the left foot
is raised behind.
The lady follows, doing the same step backward. The man
begins this movement by leading with his right foot so that
the lady will necessarily step backward with her left foot,
heel raised and will then make the same sliding step with
the flexing and straightening of the legs, on the opposite foot.
During the execution of this turn, the tip of the right foot
of the man will turn toward the tip of the left foot of the
lady : the tip of his left foot will then turn toward the right
foot of his partner.
This variation was born of the HAITIAN FOLKLORIC
RHYTHMS and is known as the "IBO DANCE".
The steps of "IBO DANCE" were
stylized to be danced in the MERIN-
In order to dance it properly the dan-
cer must develop a certain quality of
bodily agility as the steps are synco-
pated and derive from tap dancing.
The rhythm of the "IBO DANCE"
is characterized by a strong drum beat
at each count of the music : all counts
are heavy but the first and the fourth
"IBO DANCE" is actually walking
forward and backward.
1. Small step forward on left foot.
2. Long step forward on right foot.
3. Step forward on left foot again.
4. Step forward with right foot again.
As the fourth step is completed, the
left foot. which is behind, is quickly
raised to start the steps in the opposite
Repeat as many times as there are musical refrains. During
intervals, the other figures of the QUICK MERINGUE are
As you step forward, slide on the sole of the foot, which
will bend the knee slightly. When stepping backward, the
feet must be raised from the floor, obliging the dancer to raise
the heels and bend the knees.
The lady follows with corresponding steps.
This variation derives from the HAITIAN FOLKLORIC
RHYTHM called COYE DANCE and has been stylized for
It is executed by the dancer moving only the left foot in
a sec-saw motion.
It is very attractive and easy to picture.
1. Bring left foot forward in a small step.
2. Lean back on right foot, in a small step.
3. Bring left foot backward in a small step.
4. Lean back on right foot in a small step.
5. Raise left foot and leg, take a larger step forward.
bringing left foot down hard on the floor.
The hard downward beat is very characteristic of the CA-
RABINIER variation. It is generated by a strong drum beat
in the fifth count. The knees must be flexed on this count.
Repeat four or five times, and go back to the STYLE of
the Quick MIeringue before starting another figure.
The lady follows in pattern.
The Country-dance, or Quadrille was brought to Haiti
during the 18th Century by the French. The Haitian natives
modified it with the addition of typical figures and motions
of their Haitian Folklore.
The Country-dance has undergone further changes and is
danced to the Quick Meringue but it has the same picturesque
charm found in all the Folkloric Rhythms.
The music is melodious, played with flute and accordion
mostly. This is the most frequently danced figure by society
and is easy to learn.
The Quadrille is a rhythmical march executed on one side
by hopping and swinging the body. Facing the lady the man
begins with his left foot and the lady with her right. The
lady holds her skirts away from her body with both hands.
At left :
1. Left foot out to left side
2. Cross right foot over left
3. Left foot out to side again
4. Slowly lift right foot and
cross it in air over the left leg.
Execute to fourth count at which make a quick small hop
on the left heel and repeat to right side on right foot.
At right ;
1. Right foot out to right side
2. Cross left foot over right
3. Right foot out to right again
4. Slowly lift left foot and cross
it in air over the right leg.
On fourth count make
quick small hop on right
Repeat as long as music
lasts then follow the STY-
LE of the QUICK ME-
RINGUE when the rhy-
In this figure, the man
and lady cross over each
other on the fourth count.
To make the QUICK MERINGUE more exciting and
to end it merrily with the last count of the music, the man
spins the lady as in the NATURAL TURN but without
the hip swinging. It must be only a quick whirlwind move-
The SLOW MERINGUE must be danced in a sweet and
harmonious manner. The steps must be syncopated and ra-
The measure is written twice. The first of each count is
STYLE OF THE
The feet are side by side : the
man faces the line of direction
and moves clockwise..
The lady steps adversely with
1 : Start with left foot forward.
sliding slowly in a delayed
2 : Press right foot gently on
floor and bring right foot
up to left foot.
1 : The feet are side by side :
step backward sliding on
sole of foot.
2 : Bring left foot to right foot.
The step is done with knees
slightly flexing, body inclined sli-
ghtly forward now to left and nov
to right, according to the foot used
to step forward.
Repeat several times: then start
the first basic steps.
Start after the forward movement :
I. Step to left side sliding __ a____
on left foot.
2. Bring right foot up to
left foot. 3
Rhythmical Hip Swing.
3. Step backward sliding
on left foot.
4. Bring right foot up to left foot. Rhythmical Hip Swing.
5. Step to right side sliding on right foot.
6. Bring left foot to right foot. Rhythmical Hip Swing.
7. Step forward sliding right foot.
8. Bring left foot to right foot. Rhythmical Hip Swing.
Repeat two or three times and start again the forward mo-
vement with the left foot.
After the eighth count the feet return to starting position.
The lady does the same steps on opposed feet.
This figure lies between the style of the Slow Meringue and
the Rectangular Steps.
i. Forward on left foot.
4 turning slightly lo left.
sliding on sole.
4 32. Bring right to left foot
Son diagonal with
: small rhythmical hip
3. Forward on right foot.
___ ~ turning slightly to
right, sliding on sole.
1 4. Bring left foot to right
Foot on diagonal with
S I a small rhythmical
Repeat several times
remembering to slightly
raise the heel of the foot
START on which you make the
Lady dances corresponding steps.
SIMPLE BALANCE YOYO
This step looks like the STYLE of the SLOW MERIN-
GUE made vertically, and is executed with a slight sliding
of the feet and a small rhythmical hip movement for each mo-
vement of the feet.
1. Bring left foot oul to
left on level with
right. "- -
2. Join right foot to left, 3- 2 -
leaning slightly on TART
the heel of the right ..._R
Small rhythmical hip movement.
3. Return to right side
3 -on right foot.
4. Bring left foot to
right, leaning slight-
BACK ly on the heel of the
---> left foot.
Small rhythmical hip movement.
Repeat at will, and when the step and hip movement have
been completely mastered, double the time, to do the "DOU-
BLE BALANCE YOYO".
DOUBLE BALANCE YOYO
The "DOUBLE BALANCE YOYO" is done without the
r rrhythmical hip movement.
I. Bring left foot to left side on level with right.
2. Bring right foot up
of the body.
Again bring left
foot to left side on
Bring right foot
back to left without
the leaning motion
but with a slight
beat of the feet.
to left foot with a leaning motion
Repent in its entirely toward the right.
1. Bring right foot to right side level with left.
2. Bring left foot up to right foot with a leaning motion.
On the fourth count, strike the
against the other which is holding
repeat in opposite direction.
3. Continue to move
to right in same
manner with right
4. Join left foot to
right without lea-
ning motion but
with slight beat of
foot that is in motion
the body weight; then
Repeat several times, SIMPLE and then DOUBLE BA-
IANCE YOYO. and restart the rectangular steps.
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M UfoS LATIRBT EALNSE WOF
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THE MOST POPULAR RHYTHM IN THE
PRITD. IN HAITI
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