Learn all about the Bachata!
…is a style of dance which originated in the Dominican Republic. It is danced all over the world but varies by locale.
The basics to the dance involve a three-step chasse action with Cuban hip motion, followed by a hip tap on the 4th beat (making its count similar to other Latin dances). The knees should be slightly bent so the performer can sway the hips more easily. The movement of the hips is very important because it’s part of the soul of the dance. Generally, controlled full-body movement is crucially important in the dance, but most of it comes from the hips.
In partnering, the lead can decide whether to perform in open or closed position. Dance moves, or step variety, during performance strongly depend on the music (the rhythms played by different instruments), setting, mood, and interpretation. Unlike Salsa (a more common Latin Dance), Bachata does not require many complex turns; although they can be very well used when the musicality is understood and interpreted correctly. Leading is done as in most other dances, with a “pushing and pulling” hand communication. Done correctly, the follower should clearly understand the intended direction. Although there is a lot of body movement in Bachata, the hand communication is better understood when most of the movement is performed by the lower body (from waist down).
The new Fusion Style (mixing of different dances) developed in US, Europe and Australia (Traditional, Modern, Urban, Bachatango, BachaBallroom etc.) is a basic dance sequence of a full 8 count in a side-to-side motion. The Original Dominican style basic dance sequence is a full 8 count moving within a square. Counts 1 through 3 and 5 through 7, when taken, generate a natural hip motion. Counts 4 and 8, consists of a tap and can include a “pop” movement depending on individual style. The ‘pop’ can also be executed by lifting the foot while popping the hip to the side opposite of the natural Cuban hip motion. Bachata music has a slight accent in rhythm at every fourth count, indicating when the ‘pop’ should happen. The tap or ‘pop’ is done in the opposite direction of the last step, while the subsequent step is taken in the same direction of the tap or pop. The dance direction interchanges after every 4th count.
In social dance, the man can choose to change style within a song. This is usually done after a break or tempo change. Changing style is done non-verbally by changing hand and body position.
The original Bachata dance style comes from the Dominican Republic where the music was also born. The early slow style from the 50s (where everything started) was danced only closed such as in a Bolero. The Bachata Basic Steps moving within a small square (side, side, forward and side, side, back) are also inspired from the Bolero while danced slightly differently in Bachata and with syncopations (steps in between the beats) depending on the dancers mood and the character of the music. The hand placement will vary with the dancers position which can be very close, to semi-close, to open. Today, Bachata Dominican Style is danced all over the Caribbean, more quickly and in accordance with faster music, while adding more footwork, turns/figures and rhythmic, free-style moves and with alternation between close (romantic) and open position. This style is danced with soft hip movements and a tap with a small “pop” with the hip on the 4th beat (1, 2, 3, Tab/Hip). It can be danced with or without bounce (moving the body down on the beats and up again in between the beats by springing the legs). Bachata Dominican Style has been created by the people over many years (from around the late 50s) for social dancing and it is still evolving. This original style is spreading rapidly in the western world today (2010).
The first Non-Caribbean style of Bachata developed in US and Europe around 2000, based on the earlier Dominican Bachata but it was not quite the same. Currently (2009) the most common style of Bachata is danced all over the world as it was promoted with music from big Bachata stars such as Aventura, Xtreme, Monchy y Alexandra, to name a few. Basic steps move side to side or on the spot. The main characteristic of this style is the close connection with your partner and in dancing with soft hip movements and a tap or a small “pop” with the hip on the 4th beat (1, 2, 3, Tab/Hip). Traditional Style also includes dips. This is a very romantic style of Bachata, because of keeping the dance close. A man will indicate dancing traditional style by placing his partner’s left arm on his right shoulder and placing his right hand on her back similar to the hand positions when dancing Dominican Bachata in very close or semi-close position.
This style is also known as Bachata Moderna and it is yet another and more different style which originated in Europe (Spain, specifically, around 2005). The basic of the Traditional Style Bachata added dance techniques and styling from Salsa, Tango, Zouk, etc. Steps move not only left-to-right or on the spot but also move to differing directions and by adding basic Tango steps (steps with many crosses), whereon the leader leads a cross (cross on1, cross on2, cross on3), but on the 4th count, the pop or hip movement is maintained. For the follower, it is often danced with very big hip movements, she should picture a figure-eight when swaying her hips from side to side.
A man will indicate switching to modern style by holding both hands of his partner just above the waist level, with her palms facing downwards and his facing upwards similar to one of the hand positions when dancing Dominican Bachata in open position. While dancing modern style, the hand placement will vary indicating turns, equivalent to Salsa dancing. Modern Style dancers claim that the dynamics of the Modern Style are based on maintaining the essence of the Bachata basic but this can be very difficult to see. Nowadays (2010), dancers also incorporate styling movements borrowed from Zouk-lambada (backwards and forwards bent torso/body movements). You will also meet the term Urban Style, which is Modern Style supplemented with HipHop elements. Characteristics of Modern Style Bachata are that this style mixes techniques and styling from many other dances. Modern Style is used for both social and competition dancing.
Tango Style (BachaTango)
Tango Style features basic steps, and short sequences moving side to side but, most prominently, Tango steps danced like Tango. The “pop” count is used to add elaborated sensuality and varied Latin dance styles. Although this dance has been used to dance to Bachata music, it has evolved to be used to dance to Tango music as well. Unheard of in the Dominican Republic, Bachata’s country of origin, BachaTango has become popular with foreign instructors outside the Caribbean.
A man will indicate dancing Tango Style by placing his partner’s left arm on his right shoulder and placing his right hand on her back, while holding her left hand with his right and stretching that arm. This position is somewhat similar to that of traditional style Bachata, however the upright posture and stretching of the arm indicate Tango Style.
A style developed in US/Europe for competition dance only, with very extreme hip movements and lots of Ballroom Dance styling. It is used predominantly for Ballroom competitions rather than social dancing.
Learn to Dance Bachata
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