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Merengue Festival At NHS



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Merengue Festival At NHS

By Tanjua Damon

Learning the Merengue was not an easy task for some Newtown High School Spanish III students, but the smiles and laughs were a sure sign that the students were enjoying themselves at the Merengue Festival.

Spanish teacher Holly Ferguson organized the all-day event for about 170 students who take Spanish III to help the students understand how the language plays into the foreign culture. Students participated in interpreting the lyrics, watching commentaries about Merengue dance from natives, and learning how to do the Merengue.

The high school students were taught the Merengue so that they could dance to the beat of music performed by Rigoberto Perez and his band from the Dominican Republic, who concluded the day’s events.

“It really helped the students to see the importance of the music with the culture. By having a whole day event, the students received an authentic experience,” Ms Ferguson said. “I’m very enthusiastic about learning about the culture through dance.”

Annie Strah from the Council on Latin American and Iberian Studies at Yale University also provided a lecture on the role of music in society. Students discussed the role of modern music in the United States and the history of the Merengue in the Dominican Republic.

“I tell the students, it is not a party if you are not dancing,” Ms Ferguson said. “Without dancing, the Hispanics would call it a meeting. Dancing is really a healthy way to have fun.”

The Merengue has developed into a contemporary, rapid rhythm played in concerts, parties, and dance halls around the world, according to Ms Ferguson. It blends west African, Latin, and other Caribbean musical influences.

During the Spanish III class, students explore the role of Merengue in Dominican society, according to Ms Ferguson. They also learn about the history of the music and dance, as well as how it is an integral part of the culture. Students prepared for the festival by studying the geography, literature, and history of the island.

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