When many people think about the island of Hispaniola, they think of Haiti. This part of the island was settled by the French, and is only 1/3 of the entire island. The largest part of the island was settled by the Spanish and is known as the Dominican Republic. Like many Spanish colonies, it has its own Latino dance forms that are popular around the world.
The two most popular forms of Latino dancing that have come from the Dominican Republic are Merengue and the Bachata. Named after the guitar used to play the music, the Bachata is about personal style rather than dance steps. Hip movements are important in this dance that has three steps followed by a pause. Merengue is also a dance where hip movement is important. It is done to a count of eight steps. They are side to side, back and forth and turn steps. Each step is small, and bending the knees to make the hips sway naturally is the basis of this dance.