Colombia – birthplace of Zumba!

I was reviewing my current Zumba class playlist and realized that I had no less than three Colombian artists included, which is certainly fitting since the creator of Zumba, Beto Perez, is a native of Cali.  Before being introduced to Zumba, I was oblivious to the fantastic music coming out of this corner of South America.  So glad that’s changed!  In our classes, we frequently use the rhythms of cumbia and vallenato, as well as Colombian style salsa.

As all my A+ students know, Colombian cumbia quite different from Mexican cumbia, but they are all related at their roots.  Both cumbia and vallenato often have lots of accordian.  The most common step we use for these styles of music has one foot as an “anchor” stepping in place, while the other foot steps front-and-back.  Like most Latin music and dance, cumbia derives from African traditions that traveled across with the slaves.

Colombian salsa is especially fast and energetic and if you want to be amazed, find a video on YouTube that shows Colombian-style salsa dancing like this one, this or this.  Super quick feet- it will blow you away!  Frukos y Sus Tesos and Sonora Carruseles are a couple of hot bands as well as Yuri Buenaventura, performer of the salsa song I currently play near the end of class.

Shakira, the respectable pop star who uniquely fuses Arabic and Latin music, is also worth a special mention.  For a couple of songs that showcase her powerful and evocative voice, find “Hay Amores” and “Despedida”, both from the “Love in the Time of Cholera” movie soundtrack.   “Despedida” in particular gives me goosebumps!

Fonseca, Cabas, Carlos Vives, Joe Arroyo and Grupo Niche are other Zumba favorites.  Look for songs by alternative group Sidestepper and popular rocker Juanes coming up in my classes in the next couple of weeks.  In the meantime, you can entertain yourself on Wikipedia, YouTube, and iTunes discovering more examples of Colombia’s great music!  Also, if you ever watch Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations”, try to catch the episode on Medellin, Colombia.  His post on that episode here .

credit cdveston at Flickr for this beautiful photo of traditional dancers.  Also, please forgive any inaccuracies or oversimplifications in this humble blogpost!