The bachata is danced by couples usually in a romantic and sensual story-telling style. The Bachata dance was also, at some point, considered to be a passionate and sensual kind of expression of love through dance.
This dance is gaining a lot of popularity in the US, Europe, and Australia.
With a history attached to the countryside and rural neighborhoods of the Dominican Republic, bachata dance and music is a well-known form of expression. While the underlying themes of bachata dance and the accompanying melody typically surround a romantic subject, other emotions like sadness and heartache also become a part of this type of dance, which is also referred to as "bitter."
The Bachata dance was said to have originated from the Dominican Republic, in the 1950s. At that time, the Bachata dance was performed by servants after a hard days work. The dance was used as a means of merrymaking of the people in the village.
Of course, dancing and merrymaking would not be complete without music. It was said that the early Bachata music was created using items commonly found on one's backyard such as garbage cans, pots, pans, and fences, among others. This is one of the reasons why the Bachata is called such because in some parts of the Dominican Republic, bachata refers to trash, while others view the term to suggest a celebration or party. Another theory regarding the history behind bachata dance and music is that it came from the Italian Ballata, a formally popular music that once thrived many centuries ago in Italy.
Throughout the years, bachata dance and music held close ties to the pan Latin- American style called bolero, which was also romantic in nature. Later, merengue and salsa served as an influence for bachata dance, which infused a faster pace.
Nowadays, electric instruments, particularly electric guitars, are used to create Bachata music accompanied by male vocals. Some of the popular Bachata artists are Jose Manuel Calderon, Ramon Cordero, and Rafeal Encarnacion. Overall, the use of electric instruments is much easier to groove to than earlier styles.
Bachata is in 4/4 time - which means there are four emphasized beats in every measure. Here are some cues to help know where the music is: The low bongo usually plays on the 4th beat. The voice accents the 1st beat - often that means that vocal phrases end on the first beat rather than start on it. The bass tends to play on the 3rd, 4th, and 1st beats - but this can change. Dancers usually step on beats 1,2 and 3 - stepping in place on 4. Sometimes, people will dance on different timings.
The basic footwork associated with bachata dance is a series of uncomplicated steps aimed to generate a back and forth (or sideways) movement. Bachata dance follows a tempo of 4/4 music and 120 beats per minute. The footwork concentrates on a set of three simple steps that are coupled with four beats of music. This particular movement is quite easy for dancers of all ages to get acquainted with.
Start with the left foot – making a chasse (gliding movement) to the right on counts 1, 2, and 3. On the fourth count, touch the right toe beside the left foot. Alternatively, the dancer can also tap the right toe in place – apart from the left foot – making an upwards jerk (pop) with the right hip. The same movement is then performed from the right foot. The overall emphasis of the dance is seen through alluring hip and body motions. To enhance the bachata dance steps, some people will add a few turns or pull their partner closer.
Sometimes, the dance is also executed with partners positioned far apart from one another. The nature and comfort between dancers is an important part of bachata dance, as the chemistry they share shines through in the steps. The more time spent dancing with someone a dancer is familiar with, the more likely the dancer will be able to lead or be led. Most often, it is the male that leads the female in bachata dance.
Bachata Dance Styles
Dominican Style: The original Bachata style comes from the Dominican Republic where the music also was born. The early slow style from around late 1950s from where everything started was danced only closed like a Bolero. Later the Basic steps moving within a small square was added danced both in closed and in open position depending on the dancers mood and the character of the music. This style is today danced all over the Caribbean, now also faster in accordance to faster music, adding more footwork, turns and rhythmic free style moves and with alternate between close (romantic) and open position (more playful adding footwork, turns, rhythmic torso etc.). This style is danced with soft hip movements and a small pop on the 4th beat (1, 2, 3, hip). Can be danced with or without bounce.
Traditional Style: The first Non-Caribbean style developed in U.S. and Europe around year 2000, based on the earlier Dominican bachata (4 steps) but not quite the same. Currently the most common style of bachata 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 moving side to side or on the spot. The main characteristic of this style is the close connection with a partner and dancing also with soft hip movements and a small pop on the 4th beat (1, 2, 3, hip) - A very romantic style of Bachata like the early Dominican Bachata because of keeping the dance close.
Modern Style: also known as Bachata Moderna. Another and more different style originated in Europe (Spain around 2005) and popularized in Australia around 2007. Basic Steps in a side to side motion, moving not only left-to-right as the Traditional style, 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 follower dancing with very big hip movements, she should picture the number eight when swaying her hips from side to side.
Ballroom Style or BachaBallroom: 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.
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