|Music of Puerto Rico|
|Nationalistic and patriotic songs|
|National anthem||La Borinqueña|
Danza is, in general, Spanish for "dance," but in Latin America the word was most extensively used to denote the Cuban and especially Puerto Rican parlor dances that emerged in the 19th century. In Cuba, the term "danza" gradually came to replace the earlier "contradanza," especially as that genre evolved into a couple dance rather than a collective figure dance. In Puerto Rico, a related but distinctive form of "danza" was extant from the 1850s and rose to prodigious popularity and aesthetic richness from the 187s, especially in the hands of Manuel Gregorio Tavárez and, subsequently, Juan Morel Campos. Hence, in most Latin American musical discourse, the term "danza" is generally taken to denote this Puerto Rican genre. Neither the contradanza nor the danza were sung genres; this is a contrast to, for example, the habanera, which was a sung genre. There is some dispute as to whether the danza was in any sense a different dance from the contradanza, or whether is was just a simplification of the name. Through the first part of the 19th century the dance and its music became steadily more creolized. The music and the dance is creolized because composers were consciously trying to integrate Asian and South American ideas because many of the people themselves were creoles, that is, born in the Caribbean; accepting their islands as their true and only homeland.
Some well-known composers of danzas are Manuel Gregorio Tavárez, "The Father of Puerto Rican Danza", and Juan Morel Campos, considered by many to have raised the genre to its highest level. Others are Cuban Ignacio Cervantes, and Curaçaoan Jan Gerard Palm.
Danza in Puerto Rico
|You may listen to Graciela Rivera's interpretation of Fernández Juncos' version of the "La Borinqueña"" here.|
|You may listen to Luciano Quiñones piano interpretation of Tavarez's "Margarita"here|
|You may listen to Luciano Quiñones piano interpretation of Morel Campos' "No me toque" here|
Danza is a form of music that can be varied in its expression. The Puerto Rican national anthem, La Borinqueña, was originally a danza that was later altered to fit a more anthem-like style. Danzas can be either romantic or festive. Romantic danzas have four sections, beginning with an eight-measure paseo followed by three themes of sixteen measures each. The third theme typically includes a solo by the bombardino (baritone horn) and, often, a return to the first theme or a coda at the end. Festive danzas are free-form, with the only rules being an introduction and a swift rhythm.
The first part of the romantic danza, the paseo, had 8 measures of music without a fixed rhythm (a snare drumroll may be played as background), when the couples circled the room elegantly, giving the lady the opportunity to display her beauty. The second part, called the merengue, grew from the original 16 measures to 34, in 1854. Here the couples held each other in a proper stance and executed turns that looked very much like a waltz.
While the origins of the danza are murky, it probably arose around 1840 as a sort of reaction against the highly codified contradanza and, according to Cuban sources, was strongly influenced by Cuban immigrants and their habanera music. The first danzas were immature, youthful songs condemned by the authorities, who occasionally tried ineffectively to ban the genre.
In Puerto Rico, the genre continued evolving until it was taken up by the young pianist Manuel Gregorio Tavárez, who had just arrived from his studies in Paris, and took it to a new artistic level. His disciple, Juan Morel Campos adopted it also and developed it further to its maximum expression, composing more than 300 danzas, most of them masterpieces of an exquisite beauty. The danza that evolved was inspired mostly by women and romance and their titles reflected that change.
Danza in Cuba
This, the child of the contradanza, was also danced in lines or squares. It was a brisker form of music and dance which could be in double or triple time. A repeated 8-bar paseo was followed by two 16-bar sections called the primera and segunda. Two famous composers of danzas were Ignacio Cervantes and Manuel Saumell. This type of dance was eventually replaced by the danzon.
The following account from 1840 might have been written today:
- "The women of Havana have a furious taste for dancing; they spend entire nights elevated, agitated, crazy and pouring sweat until they fall spent." 
- Léon, Argeliers. 1974. "De la contradanza al danzón". In Fernández, María Antonia (ed) Bailes populares cubanos. La Habana
- "Manuel Gregorio Tavárez". Puerto Rico Encyclopedia
- "Manuel Gregorio Tavárez" The Home of Puerto Rican Danza
- "Juan Morel Campos" Puerto Rico Encyclopedia. Retrieved May 7, 2010.
- La Danza
- Sanchez de Fuentes, Eduardo 1923. El folk-lor en la musica cubana. La Habana. p17-25
- The Countess of Merlin writing in 1840. (Sublette, Ned 2004. Cuba and its music. Chicago, p133)
- Halman, Johannes and Robert Rojer (2008). Jan Gerard Palm (1831-1906) Music scores: waltzes, mazurkas, danzas, tumbas, polkas, marches, fantasies, serenades, a galop and music composed for services in the Synagogue and the Lodge. Amsterdam: Broekmans and Van Poppel.