The Cuban Tap Dance, a Spanish heritage

The Cuban Tap Dance, a Spanish heritage


By Fabiana Matamoros

The zapateo (tap dancing) is another of the many elements inherited from Spain, in this case, a dancing musical genre.

Canaries -and also Andalusians- arrived in the Cuban countryside and settled. There, Hispanic music took root and gradually became soaked in Creole trends, and thus another of the Island's dances emerged: the zapateo, purely peasant genre.

Regarding its choreographic characteristics, this popular Cuban dance is distinguished by the couple's way of dancing. The man and the woman dance alone, facing each other. They stomp alternating the heel with the toe, as a basic step and thus continue to the beat of the music, simulating a courtship that ends when the man puts the hat or scarf on his dance partner.

The Cuban peasant dance does not come alone to the guateque, that is how the Cuban country party is known. The zapateo is accompanied by the clapping of the participants and the song: the Cuban guajiro tune. The three-cord guitar, the lute, the guitar, the guayo (instrument to scrape), the keys and the marímbula, are the instruments that define the sound of this dance.

The wardrobe is her insignia. The lady wears high sturdy-heeled shoes, a blouse and a wide skirt, the last one with ruffles, and her hair is adorned with showy natural flowers.

The man wears a long-sleeved shirt, like the emblematic guayabera, string pants and the characteristic guano fiber-hat. The vivid image of the autochthonous character of this traditional Cuban party is the television program Palmas y cañas. The years pass but it does not matter, there the guajiro dance continues to be carried to the screens of the whole country.