Bachata

A sexy, sensual Latin dance that is danced in most Latin dance clubs, on cruise ships with tropical locations and at tropical resorts in Latin America.  The character of this dance is achieved through the strongly grounded feeling, the close body contact, the sensual movement of the hips for the lady and sharp timing accents for the man.

Teaching Elements:

  • Chasses (Side-Close-Side) actions
  • Rotation to Right and Left
  • Control--Concentrate on acute & accurate sense of timing
  • Musical accenting with accentuating body action (more pronounced in hips for the ladies)
  • Compare/Contrast--Rumba, Bolero, Salsa, Cha Cha, Merengue, Lambada

History and Characteristics:

Bachata is a form of music and dance that originated in rural Dominican Republic.  Popular Latin music has always been rife with Merengue and Salsa music and Bachata musicians (Bachateros) languished largely in the background.  They did not even gain widespread acceptance in their native land until around the early 2000's.

Bachata music is considered the "blues" of Latin America and, like the blues,  sings about pain and heartbreak.  It developed from the musical tradition of Bolero, a romantic music with themes like deception and lost love, traditional Rumba and Son music.

Bachata started in the bars, brothels and other places of ill repute where guitar was the instrument of choice.  Guitar music also flourished in the countryside, "el campo", and originally this type of music was called "bolero campesino"- country bolero.  The word Bachata originally referred to the party or gathering where guitar music was played,  often wild parties held in secluded locations.  This fact did not help the reputation of Bachata and, in a similar fashion to the Argentine Tango in Argentina, it was relegated to the underworld and those who dared to enter it for entertainment.  Later the term Bachata came to refer to the music style, later yet to the dance itself and for the most part, even then, only in a denigrating manner.

In response to political factors, a number of musicians left the "campo" to record in the Dominican capital in early 1960's.  This is where Jose Manuel Calderon recorded what is usually considered the first bachata song that was released as a single in 1961.  Major commercial success wouldn't come until 1990 when Juan Luis Guerra burst onto the scene with his hugely popular album Bachata Rosa.  Slowly the Bachata found its way out of the shadows and into the Latin music mainstream.

The modern popular Bachata music is produced with electronic instruments and often exhibits masterful playing of the guitar.  It is usually played faster than the original music of the Bachata roots.  In recent years Dominican television stations have produced hugely popular Bachata dance competitions for broadcast.

Characteristics:

The music has a very distinctive sound.  There are 4 beats, most usually with a strong accenting on beat 4, resulting in a "Quick, Quick, Slow, AND" sort of rhythm.  Stepping occurs on the first 3 beats with the strong accent in body action on that 4th beat (especially as a strong stopping action for the man and an accentuated hip movement for the ladies).

In teaching the Bachata as a dance chasses are usually introduced first, resulting in a "side, close, side" movement to left and right.  Ultimately step patterns can move in any direction including forward and back or rotating on the spot in either a clockwise or counter clockwise direction.

The body action on the chasse resembles what is taught as "cuban motion" in the ballroom dances but most often with two bent knees and not very sharply pronounced.  On the 4th count, where the heavy accent in the music resides, there is an accentuated hip movement to the inside of the chasse (hip accent to right on a leftward chasse and vice-versa).  This accent is usually done quite sharply and strongly by the man, almost stop-action, and more softly undulating by the lady.  For a very sexy accent this rhythmical hip action for the lady is sometimes accompanied by lifting her left leg up the outside of his right leg on the 4th count of her rightward chasse especially on slower and romantic sounding Bachata songs.

Bachata can be a very practical dance, danced to many of the selections of music that the American Style Rumba is danced to.  At its highest level Bachata can be an incredibly sensuous or sexy Latin dance, depending on the speed and feel of the music.  There is lots of rotation and spins for the lady, with the couples moving in unison with each other and with the strong accenting of the Bachata music.

Music:

Bachata music is  in 4/4 time and may be played over a wide variety of tempos ranging in tempo anywhere from 20 bpm (bars per minute) to 5o bpm.  The slower tempo range results in a dance that is more sensuous and romantic with the dance changing in character with the faster tempos to sexy and flirtatious.

Bachata Songs and Artists 

  • Creiste - Anthony Santos
  • Esta Noche - Raulin Rodriguez
  • Dime Que Falto - Zacarias Ferrera
  • Intentalo Tu - Joe Veras
  • Obsession - Aventura

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