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What is Bachata?

Bachata

What is Bachata?

Bachata is a style of dance that originated in the Dominican Republic. It is danced widely all over the world but not identically.

The basics to the dance are three-step with a Cuban hip motion, followed by a tap including a hip movement on the 4th beat. The knees should be slightly bent so the performer can sway the hips easier. The movement of the hips is very important because it’s a part of the soul of the dance. Generally, most of the dancer’s movement is in the lower body up to the hips, and the upper body moves much less.

In partnering, the lead can decide whether to perform in open or closed position. Dance moves, or step variety, during performance strongly depends on the music (such as the rhythms played by the different instruments), setting, mood, and interpretation. Unlike Salsa, Bachata dance does not usually include complex turn patterns but they are used more and more as the dance evolves. The leading is done just like in most other social dances, with a “pushing and pulling” hand and arm communication. Hand and arm communication is better conveyed when most of the movement is performed by the lower body (from waist down); i.e. hips and footwork. Bachata is commonly known by many as a very sensual dance. To most it may seem that way, however, that is not what it is intended to be taken as. Bachata is a dance, done by a person with another, to express the feelings one has for a specific other. It is believed by most, that the more smoothly and more frequently the hips are used and moved, the more feelings the individual has for the other. With that said bachata originated as a sort of “mating call,” if you were selected for a dance of bachata, you were chosen as a mate, two dances with the same individual, “sealed the deal.”

The original dance style from the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean is a basic dance sequence is a full 8 count moving within a square. Dancers in the Western World later began developing a more simple pattern, also in a full 8 count, but with a side-to-side motion. Both Styles consist of 3 steps normal and then a tap step. The tap is often accompanied by a “pop” of the hips, and is sometimes substituted with syncopations (steps in between the beats – some similar to cha-cha-cha steps and others much different). Bachata music has an accent in rhythm at every fourth count. Often, this is when dancers will tap-step & pop their hips – this is called dancing bachata to the music (because the first step after the pop falls on the 1st beat of the measure). But bachata can be danced to different timings as well if it’s danced to one particular instrument instead. The tab or ‘pop’ is done in the opposite direction of the last step, while the next step is taken on the same direction as the tap or pop. The dance direction changes after the tap or fourth step.

Bachata Dance Styles

Bachata has many styles, at LTP we teach them all! Although we specialise in Modern and Sensual style. We also teach dominican and fusion styles regularly, see below if you'd like to know more about each dance style. We have students of all ages doing every style and we advise you to try all lessons and develop your moves from your favourite styles. Check our classes out to join us

Modern/Moderna

A newer Fusion Style probably from around 2005. This style is widely considered to have originated in Spain, but as with all evolutions of dance style this itself is widely debated. The basics are the same as Traditional Style Bachata, but with added dance elements and styling from Salsa, Tango, Zouk-lambada, Ballroom etc. In the style, couples typically move their upper torsos more, put greater emphasis on the hip pop, and women use more exaggerated hip movements. The most direct fusion influence on modern style bachata dancing comes from the adoption of salsa turn patterns. There is also a even newer modern Urban Style that incorporates HipHop elements but this style basically also have the same technical base as Modern Style.

Sensual 

Bachata Sensual was created in Cádiz, Spain by Korke Escalona and Judith Cordero

Judith says “Sensual Bachata is a love story that unfold on the dance floor” and thus is estetically beautiful to watch. It is a mix between dance and theatre. The dance it therefore filled with moments of passionate pauses that creates visual floating pictures that take your breathe away. These are sprinkled on top of the regular basic step and beautiful turn patterns. Another element to break the flow of energy in this dance and to hit certain stops in the music is the use of isolations. In the stops of the music, the leader isolates the follower’s upper or lower body, so as to steer only one part of the follower’s body to create visual stops that are robotic looking. This creates a nice oppsite to the rest of the dance which has a more floating and flowing vibe.

As the dance style has grown and competitions have become more popular, the dance has become more open in a more show style like manner. Yet, the core essence of sensual bachata is body leads and steering the girl in close position. The movements are ripple- or wavelike and based on natural flow movement through the power of inertia. The dance can therefore easily follow the slow sensual songs that are popular today and the more hip hop/ r’n’b influenced songs that have more pops, stops and attacks in the music.

Watch the couple Korke and Judith who invited sensual bachata below.

Description taken from KorkeandJudith.com

Original/Dominican

The original Bachata dance style comes from the Dominican Republic where the music also was born. The early slow style in the fifties from where everything started was danced only closed, like the Bolero. The Bachata Basic Steps moving within a small square (side, side, forward and side, side, back) are also inspired from the Bolero but danced slightly different in Bachata and danced with syncopations (steps in between the beats) depending on the dancer’s 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.

The Original Dominican Bachata is today danced all over the Caribbean, now also faster in accordance to faster music, adding more footwork, turns/figures and rhythmic free style moves and with alternate between close (romantic) and open position (more playful adding footwork, turns/figures, rhythmic torso etc.). 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). Can be danced with or without bounce (moving the body down on the beats and up again in between the beats by springs the legs a little). Dominican Bachata is created by the people over many years (from around late fifties) for social dancing and is still evolving.

See Julian & Angela dance dominican bachata below

Bachatango/Bachata Tango

Fusion Style from the West to with short sequences of Traditional basic steps but mostly Tango steps danced like Tango. The “pop” count is used to add elaborated sensuality and varied Latin dance styles but mostly taken from Tango. Vueltas like Traditional. Although this dance has been used to dance to Bachata, it has evolved to be used to dance to Tango as well. Even though BachaTango is unheard of in the Dominican Republic, Bachata’s country of origin, BachaTango has become popular with foreign instructors outside the Caribbean.

Other styles

There are “many other styles” of Bachata from the West, pioneered and promoted by different teachers around the world, each with its own distinct flair. Whether these are considered completely different styles or simply variations of the main styles above is often argued by teachers and students alike.

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