CMA Stories

6 Fun Facts about Mereng

Visit CMA on Sunday, May 6 to celebrate the culture of Haiti with workshops inspired by traditional and contemporary arts practices! CMA is also collaborating with Haiti Cultural Exchange which will present Krik? Krak! Storytelling & Songs: connecting children and families to the rich oral traditions of Haiti. Join us at 12:30 and 2:00 pm with Riva Precil whose work embodies the beauty of her Haitian heritage through singing, dancing, jewelry designs and writing.

We will be creating colorful doorways inspired by Haiti’s Jalouzi community in Fine Arts, sculpting the coral reefs of Haiti in the Clay Bar, creating Compas inspired music in the Sound Booth and more!

To get us ready for the festival, here are 6 fun facts about Mereng:

1. Mereng, or méringue, is a traditional dance from Haiti said to have evolved from karabinye, or carabinier, a dance originating from the period of the Haitian Revolution in 1804.

2. With its quick and freeform style, mereng was a revolutionary response to the colonizing European-styled dances in Haiti like the kontradans, or contredanse, and the affranchi.

3. Drawing from Congolese roots, traditional mereng often utilizes the five-beat kata pattern which can sound like, dak-tadak-tadak or tim-pitim-pitim.

4. The music is played on string instruments, like the guitar and the lute, unlike in the Dominican Republic which plays its beats on the accordion.

5. Mereng music is generally sung in Haitian Creole.

6. The name méringue is the name for an 18th century French dessert made from whipped egg and sugar. It may have become the name for the dance because it captured the essence of the graceful and fluid nature of the steps.

This program is supported, in part, by the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts with support of Governor Andrew Cuomo, and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. 

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