Encyclopedia of Dance: Mambo


The madness of human passions permeates the temperamental and sensual mambo. Cuba can rightfully be proud of its melodies and rhythms. Rumba and cha-cha-cha, salsa and mambo celebrate this charming, sunny island

The word «mambo» comes from the name of the god of war. In ancient times, the Cubans dedicated a ritual dance to him, in order to earn favor and secure patronage. The mambo dance has much in common with rumba and cha-cha-cha (at first, the famous cha-cha-cha was even called syncopated mambo), but it is distinguished by great temperament, freedom in expressing feelings and emotions, and luxurious musical accompaniment.

Incendiary mambo rhythms are widely used in cinema. This dance is both a means of seduction and a way to express your feelings. Some of the most famous motion pictures featuring dance are Mambo, starring Antonio Banderas and Armand Assante, and the more recent film Dirty Dancing, starring Patrick Swezi.

History of occurrence dance

The modern form of mambo was formed in the middle of the 20th century as a result of the combination of jazz and Afro-Cuban rhythms. The founders of the new style were Odilio Urfe and the blind drummer Arsenio Rodriguez, who is also considered the author of salsa melodies and rhythms. A new musical style was introduced on stage in 1938 by Orestes López with the «Orquesta Arcanos» orchestra. And he called it «mambo».

The history of the dance begins later, when the dancers noticed the melody, mastered new rhythms and created figures suitable for them. Secular society reacted negatively to the new dances, calling them dirty. To promote mambo, Orestes Lopez began to introduce jazz elements into the music.

Mambo was promoted in the United States by Cuban composer Damaso Pérez Prado. After the release in 1944 by the American record company Victor of a collection of his melodies called «Mambo», the success of the new rhythms reached the United States. And the Cuban composer himself, after a resounding success, began to be called the «King of Mambo».

Contributed to the development of mambo and Javier Cugat — a musician born in Spain and raised in Cuba. His musical works combined Afro-Cuban rhythms and flamenco melodic turns.


What is mambo?

This dance belongs to the category of «dirty dances». After all, the basis of his movements are wave-like, circular, swaying movements of the hips. The dance is permeated with sensuality and eroticism, and the choreography is based on jazz elements.

Energetic mambo attracts beginners with the simplicity of basic movements, and incendiary music will allow you to enjoy the dance already at the first lessons. Mambo can be danced in pairs, in a group and alone. The music is distinguished by a clear rhythmic pattern, which makes it possible even for a beginner to easily coordinate movements with musical accompaniment.

Mambo is performed with slowing down at the end of the measure, that is, on the count of 4 with a musical time signature of 4/4. In ballroom dancing, the emphasis is on the second beat. Cubans can slow down on any shot.

mambo features

Although the basic movements of the mambo are relatively simple, professional dancers have managed to embellish this dance with complex elements that are not used in any other dance. Initially, mambo was performed only at a fast pace. But the composers, having composed slow melodies of unique beauty in this rhythm, gave the dancers another way to express themselves. If at a fast pace the synchronism of the performance of dance elements was important, then slow compositions made it possible to show the inner temperament and sensual interaction between partners in the dance.

Professionals note the dissimilarity of most mambo movements with dance steps from other dances. All the metamorphoses that this dance has undergone in its history have made it truly unique. The uniqueness of the dance, charming music, mesmerizing beauty and temperament of the movements made mambo one of the most popular dances not only in Latin American choreography clubs, but also at dance parties, discos and parties.

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