Almendra, a Cuban Danzón
a short film of 11 minutes ©2002 Jill Hartley
an authentically Cuban dance music
played and danced for over one hundred years.
Decreed the national dance of Cuba,
danzón is considered a part of the country's tradition.
Yet, it went out of fashion after the 50's
and nearly disappeared from public life in the 70's.
Thanks to "Friends of Danzón" a spontaneous movement to revive it in every province of the island, it was kept alive.
It originated at the same time as tango and ragtime, with its roots in the aristocratic Contradanse, brought to the island by French immigrants fleeing the revolution in Haiti and the sale of Louisiana.
Contredanse, from the English countrydance, was called contradanza, and then simply danza. After a century of cubanización, it became danzón.
Negro, mestizo and creole musicians gave it a sincopated rhythm and added variations. Adapting it to the tropical climate, they played it slower, and also longer to satisfy the public's desire to keep on dancing. They kept its elegance adding sensuality.
Danzón owes its enduring charm to the delicious freshness of its melodies and cadences as well as to the dignity of its dance that recalls a time of gracefulness not completely forgotten.