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Bachata (dance)

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. 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

The original dance style from the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean is a basic dance
sequence in a full 8 count moving within a square. Dancers in the Western World later began
developing a more simple pattern and added dance elements from other dances as well, the basic
is 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 basic rhythm
of 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

Dominican (in the Dominican Republic just called Bachata or by the

dominican emigrants i USA called Traditional Bachata
The Dominican Bachata dance style is widely considered to be the original style of Bachata,
originating 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

The 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). Dominican Bachata is created by the people over many years (from around late
fifties) for social dancing and is still evolving.

Traditional (the Western Traditional: the first Fusion Style)

At some point in the late 1990s, dancers and dance-schools in the Western World began using a
simpler side to side pattern instead of the box-steps probably due to a misunderstanding of the
original steps. The basic steps of this pattern move side to side, changing direction after every
tap. Characteristics of this "early" dance school style is the close connection between partners,
soft hip movements, tap with a small "pop" of the hip on the 4th step (1, 2, 3, Tap/Hip) and does
not include many Turns/Figures. Most of the styling in this style is from Ballroom Dance and
Dips are commonly used in this style. Notice that the term Traditional here refer to it was the
first Fusion Style and not that it's the original Bachata from the Dominican Republic. This was
the first style of Bachata popularised by Salsa Schools outside the Dominican Republic.

Modern/Moderna (later Fusion Style)

Later a newer style called Modern Style was developed probably from around 2005 on the
'Traditional' Style base. 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 this 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.
Bachatango/Bachata Tango (later Fusion Style)
At the same time as the Modern Style was developed there was also developed an another style
called Bachatango/Bachata Tango. It's also a Fusion Style from the West with short sequences
of Traditional basic steps and then added different Tango steps danced like Tango. The “pop”
count is used to add elaborated sensuality and varied Latin dance styles and also include the
characteristic kicks from Tango. The Vueltas is like the Traditional Style. 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.

Ballroom (later Fusion Style)

Ballroom is yet another style also developed in the West, primarily for competition dance, with
very extreme hip movements and lots of Ballroom Dance styling. It is used predominantly for
Ballroom competitions rather than social dancing. The basic step is based on Traditional Style.

Other styles
There are "many other Fusion 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.