Bachata is a Latin American couple dance that originated in the Dominican Republic and had a significant impact on the country’s culture. Compared to other dances from this region, Bachata is the easiest dance to learn, as it is kept very simple in its basics. If you add more variations, steps or figures, dancing Bachata can be very challenging. It is danced in 4/4-time.
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History of origin
Bachata originated around the year 1960 in the Dominican Republic in the middle of the Caribbean. The dance and the Bachata music developed at the same time and spread quickly, especially in the poor neighborhoods of the country. Because of this Bachata was was not very well respected socially at first and was rather associated with prostitution and crime.
It was not until many years later, around the 1990s, that the dance’s reputation rose and it developed into a cultural focal point of the Dominican Republic.
At the moment when the prestige and importance of Bachata increased in the Dominican Republic, it also began to spread worldwide. Beginning in the 1990s, first in the neighboring Caribbean countries, then in the United States, and later throughout the world, Bachata became a very popular and widespread dance. Especially since the 2010s it experienced a new blossom.
The special thing about Bachata is that the name stands not only for the dance, but also for the music it is danced to. This was developed at about the same time as the dance and had a similar development.
Musically and thematically, bachata music can be classified mostly as sentimental, romantic and sad music, which was performed very slowly in the beginning. Over time, it became faster and more varied, and the instruments used also changed again and again.
Over time, Bachata has evolved and new styles emerged, especially in recent years.
This style means the classical Bachata and alludes to the origin of the original dance. The original way of dancing bachata comes without a lot of figures and is focused on creative and fast footwork combinations and being very playful with the music.
In Bachata Rueda, several couples dance in a circle and there are always changes of partners. In the middle of the circle or as part of the circle is a leading dance couple or announcer, who shouts out figures and combinations, which are then danced by all dancers. Thus, this style is a very interactive and social variation of Bachata.
Bachata Sensual, as the name suggests, focuses on the sensual side of the dance. The style originated from very romantic songs, which put the focus on melodic elements and are played with less rhythmic elements. Overall, the music used by dancers in this style is considerably slower. Often the dancers are in close body contact and use body movement like body waves to musically express a slow and rhythm-less intro of a song for example.
Especially in Spain this style has its origin and found its way over Europe to the whole world.
Bachata Moderna / Urbana
Bachata Moderna is a very new dance style, which is mainly influenced by other dance styles. It is, so to speak, a further development of classical Bachata and is also often danced to other music in the form of remixes, as is also the case with Bachata Sensual.
In contrast to Bachata Sensual, however, the focus is on steps, figures and styling, which is influenced by reggaeton or hip hop, for example.
A well-known version is the Bachatango, which is a mix of Bachata and Tango. Here steps, figures and music of the two dance styles are mixed and form a new dance. In recent years, however, this style has lost much of its popularity to the increasingly popular styles of Bachata Moderna or Bachata Sensual.
Description of dancing Bachata
Bachata is a dance that offers a lot of flexibility, as dancers can dance Bachata in very different ways. Mostly Bachata is danced with a partner. In Latin and Central America, especially in the Dominican Republic, it is also danced without a partner and dancers just improvise to the music. In Europe or the USA, dancing with a partner is in the foreground.
Bachata therefore also belongs to the so-called “social dances” and is being lived by the culture of “social dancing”.
As mentioned above, Bachata is a relatively simple dance that is easy to learn in its basic steps. In the simple basic version, counting to eight, the woman or follower first takes three steps to the right, taps her left foot once, and then does the whole thing in the opposite direction. The dance partner simultaneously dances this sequence mirrored.
The basic steps in Bachata are complemented by steps to the front and to the back.
In addition, openings in all directions and turns are incorporated as “travel turns” or “spins” on the spot. There are no limits to the techniques used, so that movements are also used that do not really involve steps, but only weight shifts.
In Bachata, typical figures are used, as you know them, for example, from the standard and Latin dances, swing, rock’n’roll or discofox. The greatest relationship in terms of figures is probably to Salsa. It is important that the figures are ideally not completely prestudied combinations, but consist of small basic elements such as a simple turn and are usually led by a leader and followed by a follower. The sequence of these figures or elements is usually improvised or varied.
Certain movements are very common in Bachata Sensual. Namely so-called “Body Waves”. Here the dance partners, sometimes tightly embraced, move their hips and upper body in wave-like movements. Many movements, like a circle with the hips or rhythmic shoulder movements to the front and back, up and down can be led and followed, if the dancers are familiar with “body isolations” and body movement.
Worth mentioning about dancing Bachata
Since 2005, World and European Championships in Bachata have been held at regular intervals. This is a great development, because a few decades before the dance was partly equated with prostitution and crime rather than a culturally valuable dance.