Merengue
Merengue
Brought to the Dominican Republic by colonists from Spain and France, merengue descends from a European style of dancing. It was soon adapted by the country's peasant population, which included both European settlers and Dominicans of African descent, who incorporated the tambora drum and more rhythm into the music. Having lost favor with the elite as a result of "Africanization," merengue went underground for years, re-emerging in the early 20th century to become the national dance of the Dominican Republic, a seamless blend of European and African styles.

Close Up: Artist Rafael Lopez has danced the merengue for years with his wife. For this stamp, he wanted to evoke both the ambience and his own experience of merengue. It's a couples dance based on sideways hip movements, and Lopez's partners glide to the right together. The artist creates a sunny Caribbean mood with tropical foliage, the man's little hat, and a Spanish flower tucked into the woman's hair.
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Rafael Lopez
Ethel Kessler
Acrylic on Board
2005
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Smithsonian Institution
National Postal Museum
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Michael Osborne Design
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