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 hip tap on the 4th beat just like in other Latin dances (salsa etc.). 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 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 depends on the music (such as the rhythms played by the different instruments), setting, mood, and interpretation. Unlike Salsa (the most traditional Latin Dance), Bachata does not require many complex turns; although they are very well used when the musicality is understood and interpreted correctly. The leading is done just like in most other dances, with a “pushing and pulling” hand communication. If this is done correctly, the follower should clearly understand the intended direction. Although there is a lot of body movement in Bachata dancing, the hand communication is better understood when most of the movement is performed by the lower body (from waist down); i.e. hips and footwork.
The new Fusion Styles (mix 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 tab or ‘pop’ is done in the opposite direction of the last step, while the next step is taken on 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 also was born. The early slow style in the fifties from where everything started was danced only closed like a 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 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. Bachata Dominican Style 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). Bachata Dominican is created by the People over many years (from around late fifties) for social dancing and are still evolving. This original style is spreading rapidly in the western world today (2010).
The first Non-Caribbean style developed in US and Europe around year 2000, based on the earlier dominican Bachata but not quite the same. Currently (2009) the most common style of Bachata danced all over the world as it was promoted with music from big Bachata stars such asAventura, Xtreme, Monchy y Alexandra, to name a few. Basic steps moving side to side or on the spot. The main characteristic of this style is the close connection with your partner and dancing also with soft hip movements and a tap with 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 dancing Dominican Bachata in very close or semi-close position.
This style is also known as Bachata Moderna. Another and more different style originated in Europe (Spain around 2005). The basic is the Traditional Style Bachata added dance techniques and styling from Salsa, Tango, Zouk etc. Steps moving not only left-to-right or on the spot but also moving to different directions and adding basic Tango steps (steps with many crosses), where on each count the male leads to a cross (cross on1, cross on2, cross on3), but on the 4th count keeping the pop or hip movement. For the Lady often danced with very big hip movements, she should picture the number 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 dancing Dominican Bachata in open position. While dancing modern style the hand placement will vary indicating turns, equal to salsa dancing. Modern Style dancers claims that the dynamics of the Modern Style are based on maintaining the essence of the Bachata basic which can be very difficult to see. Nowadays (2010), dancers are also incorporating 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 added some HipHop elements. Characteristics of Modern Style Bachata is that this style mix techniques and styling from many other dances. You will see more or less of the different dances techniques and styling depending of the dancers preferences. The history of Bachata Moderna is described in the article More than just bachata. Modern Style is used for both social and competition dancing.
Basic steps, short sequences moving side to side 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. 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. 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.