The Zumba craze creates fans of Latin dance styles, music

ORLANDO, Fla. — Zumba instructors around the world not only use Latin-heavy song programming in their classes, but also build fans for artists like Don Omar, Daddy Yankee, and Pitbull.

at Omar’s Zumba remained high on Billboard‘s Hot Latin Songs Chart for nearly a year, peaking at No. 2.

In Greece, Daddy Yankee Limbo – in the top 10 on the same chart – is featured in a promotional video of Zumba instructors dancing to a Puerto Rican reggaeton beat in a beach setting.

“Dad Yankee texted me five days ago and was like, ‘I wanted you to know that Limbo is as much your success as it is mine,” said Alberto Perlman, co-founder and CEO of Zumba Fitness. “It was perfect for Zumba. When he showed it to us, he said, “I said Zumba nine times in the song, and that’s because you inspired me.'”

Zumba, a dance-based fitness program created by Colombian dancer and choreographer Alberto “Beto” Perez in 2001, was born and is still based in South Florida. It expanded worldwide, creating fans of dance styles such as Perez’s native cumbia and Latin music fans.

About 14 million people in 185 countries dance and sing to the songs, smile and sweat in Zumba classes and clamor to buy the music.

“Being from Michigan, I wasn’t exposed to any of that music, and now it’s easy to find and we hear it so often,” said Jill Cooper of Ann Arbor, a longtime fitness professional. date. She was one of 8,000 Zumba instructors from around the world who attended the annual Zumba Instructor Convention held this month in Orlando, Florida.

Bill Roedy, former president and CEO of MTV International, is a Zumba consultant. He said it provides a party atmosphere that makes people curious about music.

“Zumba has these captive audiences in 160,000 places around the world, 14 million users every week, so…you dance and you’re healthier and you listen to this music,” Roedy said.

Brazilian superstar Claudia Leitte, one of the famous coaches of the Brazilian version of The voice, will be one of the star performers at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil in June. She was recently named a Global Ambassador for Zumba Fitness.

Perlman said Zumba’s choreography is tailored to particular songs.

“We have to focus on the verse, the chorus, the bells, the drums — anything we can use in the song. And that forces people to think about the song while they’re in Zumba class,” said he declared. “And that’s why after class they always come up to the instructor and say, ‘What was that song you played? and they begin to sing it.”

Zumba’s global reach is what drove Perez to travel the world in search of new, video game-like rhythms. Zumba Fitness World Party, which will be in stores in October. The game features more than 30 global dance and music genres, including Salsa, Tahitian, Calypso, Bollywood, Cumbia, Reggaeton, Irish Step, and Capoeira.

Zumba’s influence on the music industry had something of a release party in April at Latin Billboard Awards.

“Daddy Yankee opened the show with the song Limbowhich is pretty much associated with the program,” said producer-musician Sergio Minski. “Don Omar closed the show with the song Zumba. And Beto danced with Don Omar, so Zumba pretty much topped the prizes. We opened and closed them.”

Colleen D. Ervin