Danzón: Social Dance or Show Dance?

By Leonardo Rosen

On February 28, 2015, the combined Grupo CEDECOM/Mercerina performed at the Muestra Nacional del Danzón de Guanajuato with the Orquesta Danzonera de José Casquera. Maestro Omar Llamas directed the group in his choreography to the danzón Anita La Tapatía. They scored a big success with the audience at the beautiful and historical Teatro Juárez. Felicidades y muchas gracias to Omar, Rosío, Maty, Bulmaro, Vicky, Martín, and the talented children, Sofi and Yaír. After a difficult year, Dr. Claudia Llanas and I took a break this time, except to serve as cheerleaders.

In Veracruz, Mexico City, and other large cities, there are places to enjoy the danzón on a regular basis as a social dance. In many other places, the danzón is not done socially because there are not enough places to do it. Nowadays, there are groups all over the country who virtually only do the danzón as choreographies to present at local, regional, and national events. Thus, the learning of routines is emphasized and the learning of good technique and improvising on the dance floor is de-emphasized. The most respected teachers in the country, such as Maru Mosqueda and Carlos Aguilar, say clearly that dancing routines is not the same as knowing how to dance the danzón. Neither these maestros nor I are anti-choreographies. They are a useful tool in showing the public this dance, and I’ve certainly composed enough of them. However, we want to teach people to do the danzón well and not spend an inordinate amount of time drilling them in ever more complicated routines with little or no attention to technique.

I want the danzón to be both a social dance and a show dance, and not one or the other. My purpose is teaching my students to be as good as they can be and to enjoy themselves in the process. If it is not fun, why bother? Please come to beginner class Thursdays 5:30-7pm in El Sindicato, Recreo 4, 152 0131. The Club de Danzón Mercerina is the official representative of San Miguel de Allende to the danzón in Mexico. ¡Hey familia, danzón dedicado a …!


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