The danzon, Cuban national dance

The danzon, Cuban national dance

Heritage & Traditions

By Petra Joaquina

Cuba is the cradle of important musical genres, from which dances accompanied by their rhythm have been derived. One of them is the danzon, created by Matanzas musician Miguel Failde and Pérez, in 1879.

Various brass instruments are used for its interpretation, as well as flute, violins, timpani and Cuban percussion, although others may also appear.

Its origin comes from another Cuban musical genre called ‘Habanera’ and from the danzon, in turn, came the Danzonete, the Mambo and the Cha Cha Chá. The Danzon, unlike the Habanera, is slower, as well as the break between the 20 couples that usually make up the dance, the same one that became, sometime later, the national dance of Cuba.

The first Danzon known was called “Las alturas de Simpson”(the heights of Simpson), in the halls of the city club and later the artistic and literary high school of Matanzas, now the José White Hall. After "Las alturas de Simpson", it was followed by other danzones: "La Bollera", "La Malagueña", "I'm going to Havana", "The Japanese Goddess", "Cuba Libre" and others.

There is currently a group in Cuba dedicated to keeping the legacy of Miguel Failde and his musical contribution alive. Precisely the great-grandson of the creator of the Danzon, the flutist Ethiel Failde, conducts an orchestra that bears his surname and that of his great-grandfather.

The Failde Orchestra, created in 2012, has an excellent group of musicians, most of whom are the director's study companions. Its impact on Cuban culture is such that every year when Festivals dedicated to Danzon are held around the world, they are invited to show their art and music, always with the rule of giving prestige to the genre and supporting with all professionalism the national dance of Cuba.