Macarena began with her Muses: Like others who have inspired well-known art, the Venezuelan woman responsible for the Macarena got nothing for it, but she sees no reason to be bitter.


CARACAS, Venezuela - The subject was muses. Mona Lisa didn't even get a day modeling rate to smile so enigmatically before Leonardo da Vinci. n n nn.And "The Girl From Ipanema" - the celebrated belle of bossa nova bosses for two generations - who was she, anyway?

This season's dance inspiration muses over the fleeting nature of muses as she leans on a railing outside her studio, watching shadows cover a suburban Caracas hillside at twilight.

Like those who inspired the classics of portraiture and jazz, Diana Patricia Cubillan has not received royalties from her cultural contribution: the swivels, hops and "Willie-and-the-Hand-Jive"-style movements that inspired the worldwide "Macarena" craze.

"I never asked for anything. We didn't talk about details at the time," Cubillan says of Los del Rio, the stubby Spanish singing duo who created the song after performing with her at a Caracas party. "I had no idea the song would be so popular."

Cubillan, 25, says she is anything but bitter. She has ably used her fame to prepare for her post-"Macarena" world, forming a dance academy crammed with teen-age daughters and moms of Venezuela's elite. In the past two years, she has posed with matadors, ridden show horses, filmed local TV commercials and presided over mass "Macarena" contests throughout Latin America, Europe and the United States.

On Mondays through Thursdays, however, she devotes her time stamping her feet on the wooden floors of El Recio flamenco studio, her 1-year-old business in an upscale shopping strip on the slopes of Santa Paula de Cafetal outside Caracas.

LTC It is ironic that a ballerina who tiptoed through the lead in Bizet's "Carmen" would become well-known after a singer yelled to her the suggestive phrase "Dale alegria a tu cuerpo" - "Give your body happiness" - which became the first lyrics to the "Macarena."

Odd, too, that a woman who spent more than half her life studying or teaching classical Spanish flamenco would be best-known for a four-hop step so easy that Bill Clinton can waddle through it.

But the energetic Cubillan puts a positive spin on it. "I've never won some of the top awards of flamenco dancing, yet I'm known more than the best in my field," she says.

For the most part, however, she has used her fame cautiously, sticking close to home for all but short trips and running her own business with her mother, Amanda.

The dance academy, she thinks, is the best hope for separating herself from other, forgotten muses, to create a career that will last long after the "Macarena" drops off the charts.

She is grateful - but like much of the world, seems to be a little sick of it.

Sliding the "Macarena Party" CD into her stereo to teach the popular art to a visitor, Cubillan is asked how many times she has listened to the half dozen or so versions of the "Macarena."

She laughs.

"I must have heard this," she says, "7,000 times already!"

David Beard wrote this article for the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.

Pub Date: 12/01/96

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad