My article of July 9 entitled "Should Dance Figures Be Named After Persons?" in which I mentioned the Aida and Kiki Walks has elicited quite a few responses from my visitors via comments, emails and phone calls. Thankfully, all the responses have been positive. One regular visitor, Alan Liew called me to say that he found the article interesting and informative. Alan however pointed out that the picture that accompanied the article shows the dancers doing the Spiral Turn and not the Aida. Yes, Alan, the picture taken circa 1950 is that of Pepe Llorenz executing a Spiral Turn with his regular partner Suzy Riviera. Llorenz and Riviera were very well known dancers in Cuba back then. I was unable to find a picture of Llorenz dancing the Aida with Aida (his wife, after which the figure is named).
Speaking of Cuba, it is worthwhile to note that Cuba's contribution to the world of social and competitive dancing has been immense. The popular dances like the Rumba, Cha Cha Cha, Mambo and Salsa have their roots in Cuba. These dances, except maybe for the Mambo have caught on around the world. The Mambo remains a popular dance in the United States of America. In the US, there is a classification of dances known as the American Rhythm dances which consists of the Rumba, Cha Cha Cha, Mambo, East Coast Swing and Bolero. American Rhythm dance competitions are regularly held there. The Mambo has a catchy rhythm and fun character, and songs like Mambo Number 5 by Lou Bega or Mambo Italiano by Bette Midler really gets you in the mood for dancing the Mambo.
The Mambo dance was first introduced by Perez Prado at the La Tropicana Night Club in Havana, Cuba in 1943. The dance appeared in the United States during the mid-1940s in New York's Park Plaza Ballroom and it soon became a craze there. Interest in the Mambo however fizzled out in the 1950s, but the dance is now enjoying a resurgence in popularity in the US due to a number of movies featuring the Mambo as well as the efforts of a man named Eddie Torres (picture above). Known as the "Mambo King of Latin Dance", Torres created the modern version of the Mambo in the 1970s. The modern version that Americans today call Mambo or 'breaking on 2' is completely different from the Mambo that was created by Prado. The original style of the dance contains no breaking steps, whether on 1 or 2.
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