Unravelling Mambo Dance: The Origin and Influence of Perez Prado’s Music

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Introduction to Mambo dance

In the late 1940s, Perez Prado popularized the mambo dance, accompanying his music. The original mambo dance was characterized by complex footwork and a sense of freedom. However, it was not widely accepted by professional dance teachers, who considered it extreme and undisciplined. To make it more marketable for the ballroom dance scene, the dance was standardized and adapted.

The modern mambo style, often referred to as “mambo on 2” or salsa on 2, emerged in New York in the 1980s. It was popularized by dancers like Eddie Torres and Angel Rodriguez of RazzM’Tazz Mambo Dance Company, many of whom were second-generation Puerto Ricans in New York. This style is typically danced to salsa dura (old-school salsa) and features a break or direction change on count 2 in the basic step.

Eddie Torres developed his version of mambo, influenced by what he observed on the streets of the Bronx. The RazzM’Tazz style is closer to the Palladium mambo, which was derived from the Cuban son and shares its timing (234 – 678 with pauses on 1 and 5). Both these styles were influenced by American Mambo and incorporated freestyle steps inspired by jazz and tap dancing.

Overall, the modern mambo style, known as “mambo on 2,” evolved from the original mambo dance, adapting it to the standards of the social and ballroom dance world, and finding its own unique expression within the salsa dance community.

The modern mambo style, gained popularity in the salsa dance community and continues to evolve. It incorporates elements from the original mambo dance, as well as influences from jazz, tap, and other dance styles.

Both styles of modern mambo, influenced by their predecessors and incorporating their own unique elements, have contributed to the vibrant and diverse salsa dance scene. The freestyle steps, complex footwork, and musicality are central to the modern mambo, allowing dancers to express themselves and interpret the energetic rhythms of salsa dura.

Today, the modern mambo style continues to thrive and evolve, with dancers and choreographers incorporating their own creativity and innovation. It remains a beloved and exciting dance form within the salsa community, embracing the rich history and evolution of mambo while adding contemporary elements to keep the dance alive and relevant.

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