The Origin as you probably know both regarding the Music and the Dance Bachata, is the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean.
The Music was in the late fifties and early sixties semilar to the slow Caribbean Bolero and then it over almost three decades developed into the faster and more characteristic Bachata sound as we know it today with more instruments and the electric guitar.
Today you can find Bachata Music in many varying paces from the slow 'Bolere-pace' to the fast 'Salsa-pace'.
The first known recording with Bachata was with Jose Manuel Calderon and the track 'Qué Será De Mi' the 30 maj 1962 and it was from that period the genre was formed even though most of the music was slower (Bachata-Bolero) and the music was recorded with acustic guitars.
Summary: Bachata has evolved from the Caribbean Bolero (originally from Cuba) with influence from the Cuban Son and the Dominican Merengue and it also applies to the dance Bachata.
The Dance was also in the beginning danced semilar and semi-close (approx a feet distance form torso to torso) to close (torso to torso) like the Bolero. On this early Bolero dance technique dominican social dancers have and still are evolving the dance with taps, syncopated steps (steps in between the beats), footwork and different kind of turns and combinations of these turns together with the syncopated steps and footwork etc. according to the new dynamics in the music and thereby became the dance Bachata the bodily expression of the music Bachata, which is that the dance is carefully evolved to the music by the social dancers in DR.
Like all social dances Bachata is danced within a given area which is circular to square like for example Bolero, Merengue, Casino (Cuban Salsa), Son, etc. because it's what works best on a crowded dance floor, not in straight lines because the risk is much greater for bumping into other dancers doing that. Dancing in lines is primarily an invention for dance competitions so the dancers are in a certain position to the judges so they more easily can judge the techniques and styling in the dance.
Bachata is a social dance style and thereby a Street Art Form developed for social dancing only, it's not a Stage Art Form even though good social dancers can be very entertaining to watch, and therefore the focus are on generating a strong nice inner feeling by being focused on the mood in the music, the connection to the dance partner and to the basic characteristic with emphasis on footwork rather than on many figures (combinations of turns) to embrace the many significant syncopated rhythms in the music but notice if the dynamic and the pace is high it invite to more playfulness using even more footwork, turns and combinations of turns so the dance also become more dynamic. Slow quiet pace is danced mainly closed and only with few turns or none. While dancing there are used natural soft african body movements whether you're dancing to a fast or a slow track.
When there is dance competitions in the Dominican Republic the participants still dance the social Street Art Form of Bachata.
It's not like in EU/USA where the dance competitions is transformed into Sport Dance and acrobatics with full-choreographed dances.
In the Dominincan Republic the dance at these competitions is the original social Bachata and still mainly improvised with natural body movements and styling but then often with a more playful showoff attitude.
In original Bachata there is a basic dance structure/technique which is used by all the experienced dancers, but the size of the steps, the exact direction of the steps, the footwork, the body movements together with the natural styling can be varied because the dancers, opposite in Sport Dance where they have stricts rules, are working to create their own unique and personal dance style, it's what social dance is about, being free to express oneselves the way one want according to the mood and the character of the music.
The dance goes true the same natural evolution as most social dances e.g. NY Mambo and Cuban Casino which evolved from Cuban Son and Rumba but Bachata has not yet reached the same degree of development but it's in progress and by this we will se more figures, footwork etc. all evolved on that basic Bachata structure as we have seen the NY Mambo and Casino been evolved from from the basic structure in Son and Rumba.
I means that Bachata also have had (like NY Mambo and Casino) certant time periods for how the dance was danced: In the early years as mentioned Bachata was in general danced more romantic with less turns, syncopated steps and footwork to that time period slower Bolero-Bachata music style, then slowly there were coming faster and more dynamic tracks including the replacement of the acoustic guitars to electric guitars in the second half of the eighties and the dance again evolved further according to these changes becoming more dynamic by adding more turns, syncopated steps and footwork which of cause continued with the continuing development of the music through time.
Today there are many different paces, moods and dynamics in the music and as a social dancer you always have to adapt your dance to the track being played by using more or less of the elements to the dance which you can find described below and by learning all these original dance elements you will be able to dance to all kind of Bachata music of today.
Musicality is about dancing to and with the music and as you can understand from the above it's about two very important issues: The first one is how the dance has evolved to and with the character of the music Bachata by the generations of social dancers in DR from it's start in the early sixties until today which have been a long evolutionary journey based on the Bolero and with the social dances Son and Merengue (which music genre also have affected the evolution of the music) as inspiration for the creation and evolution of the dance elements, I call this for the evolutionary musicality (the unique corporal expression created on the specific musical genre). The second one is how you as a leader or follower in the dance Bachata interpret the specific track you are dancing to here and now regarding the mood, dynamic, pace, rhythms etc. using these elements evolved for the specific dance (the evolutionary musicality) which I then call the current musicality (the unique corporal expression of the specific mood and dynamics of the music track being played). Both are very important and both takes lots of experience in social dancing in general, first of all to be able to evolve on a dance together with and to the nature of the music and it's evolution and second to be able to dance Bachata of today using more or less of these evolved dance elements according to the specific track beeing played and how this track include syncopated rhythms, a specific mood, pace and instrumental dynamics etc.
All social dances are the physical expression of the unique character of the music in each genre, understanding & felling the true nature of the specific dance is essential before even think on trying to evolve on a dance, doing it anyway is not only extremely disrespectful to the culture/nation and social dancers who have evolved the dance, it is also the top of arrogance and ignorance , because it will surely make the dance less well functioning.
The social couple dances are a trinity between the woman, the man and the music, it's about making the dance feel good for both the dancers with an easy going connection, playful movements and a nice and cool flow to the dance!
The Dance Structure to Original Bachata:
Paso Basico (Basic Steps): Danced in a box-structure side, side, forward, tap and side, side, backward, tap etc. and can include twisting feets and syncopations (taps between the beats), coming original from the Dominican Bolero steps which have a break after the third step. The basic steps dancing to Bachata was then at some point added a tap after the third step and later also syncopations but in Bachata danced in a stationary position where the Bolero steps is danced turning slowly counterclockwise.
In Bolero you also have the walking steps (paseala) going back in several measures or fourth in several measures and then you have the right turn turning together almost on the spot, there are none individual turns (vuelta) in Bolero.
The Bolero steps are also used when Dominicans dance Son and all are in general more or less variations of the Cuban Danzon steps, a very popular music and dance genre all over the Caribbean many years ago also including The Dominican Republic before the popularity of Bolero and Son displaced Danzon. Videos: Simple Basic, Twisting Basic.
Vuelta (Individual Full Turn): Starting with a step to the side and turning the body in the same direction at the same time and from there turned on the spot, unique to Bachata. Video: Left and Right Vuelta.
Enchufla (Couple Half Turn Changing Side): Lady inside turn moving forward on the 2nd step and then turning facing the dance partner from the 2nd to the 3rd step, the 1st step is a basic to the side, the structure is similar to the Classic Paseala in the Cuban dance Son watch from 2:50 to 3:10, notice also the guy in beige pants and checkered shirt behind he is dancing the Bolero/Son steps vith a tap like in Bachata (As you can see Son is still danced by the older generations in the Dominican Republic - Cuban Son together with the Cuban Rumba was also the source to NY Mambo and thereby all the american Salsa dance styles and of cause also the Cuban Casino/Salsa). Video: Left and Right Enchufla. The Couple Half Turn to the right can also be done in a very close connection.
Zapato/a (Footwork): A part of the styling and playing with the syncopated rhythms in the music, some Cuban Son inspired and some newer made for the dance in accordance to the many syncopated rhythms in the music. Video: Footwork Sequence Cinco.
Movimiento (Movements and Styling): Natural soft African moves which can be danced with or without Bounce which is moving the body down in between the beats and up again on the beats by spring the legs a little, coming from the Dominican dance Merengue. Danced with homogeneous soft Arms, Hands, Hip and Torso movements with curved lines, women with a feminine attitude and men with a masculine attitude, NO straight lines in Arms and Fingers as in Ballroom/Sport Dance. Videos: A: Man and Lady, B: Man and Lady, C: Man and Lady.
Figuras (Figures): More dynamic ways to use the combinations of vueltas and enchuflas combined with variations of the basic steps or/and footwork. Video: Introduction to more Figures.
Nueva Evolución (New evolutionary elements by expanding on the original basic elements above):
Vuelta Cubana: Individual Full Turn the way cubans do in Son and Casino (Salsa).
Vuelta Opposite: An Individual Turn done the opposite way than usually starting e.g. on the right leg on the 1st step but then turned to the left on the 2nd step and finished on the 3rd step, can be done as a half or a full turn, can also be done backwards as a half turn.
About Syncopations which are unique for original Bachata and used to fit the many syncopations in the Bachata Music.
Ordinary Syncopations are steps coming between the beats and they are normaly coming between the 1st and 2nd beat and the 2nd and 3th beat dancing the Basic Steps as mentioned above by twisting the feet between the beats or tapping between the beats moving your legs inward. In the Kicking Steps they can be done between all the beats and in those you are moving the legs outward between the beats (kicking).
Significant Syncopations are steps between the beats also but where they are marked by an accent in the torso.
They appears as an extension of the tap between the tap and the following step e.g. if the tap is on the 4th beat the significant syncopation is coming between the 4th and 1st beat in the following Bar. Those are the one you also can se as cha cha steps going back and forth in the basic steps to the more dynamic music (Not semilar to the cha cha chá steps in the dance Cha Cha Chá).
About Footwork which are here defined as combinations with varied kind of steps, slides, kicks etc. also including syncopations.
The Kicking Steps are not Footwork by definition but a variation of the Basic Steps because they are repeated the same way (no real variation). You can find Footwork performed from one to several bars in the music and from relatively simple to very advanced.
Original Bachata is as you can see not a dance walking from side to side, adding turns walking from side to side also, Original Bachata is a well structured dance and learning it properly require an effort, but on the other hand it's an effort that will be payed back to you tenfold because it's so much more fun to dance when you can dance it with all the playful elements as syncopated steps, footwork, rhythmic arms and torso etc. included in this cosy dance.
Notice that most "Bachata" danced in the Western World is not danced like the original Dominican Bachata but is actually a misunderstood version of the original basic steps without syncopations moving sideways only (not the original box structure) including the vuelta also walking sideways or forward while turning (not turned on the spot as one do in the original dance) and then added dance techniques from other dances and styling from Sport Dance.
The X-body (NY and LA Style) Salsa Dance Schools who started to teach this misunderstood Bachata shouldn't they had studied how Bachata actually was danced in the Dominican Republic which gave birth to the dance. They didn't because there was suddenly this new marked to make fast and big money on teaching a dance to this Bachata music suddenly becaming so popular and that was more important to them than finding out how the dance original was danced so they could teach it probably. Today this "new" dance these instructors teach is moving further and further away from the original way to dance Bachata. Today as an excuse they try to justify what they have done by claiming it's evolution, but to be defined as evolution it must be devolopments based on the already existing foundation and what they have done isn't because not even the basic elements they teach is the right one so they have just made up a different dance based on Salsa, Sport Dance, Tango, Zouk etc. less suitable to the original music from the Dominican Republic because of the lack of consideration to the unique characteristics of the music with the many syncopated rhythms in it.
Those new style from the early zeros is today called: Sensual, Modern, Sexy, Romantic, Urban, BachaTango etc., a common name for it all could aptly be Popchata as they are danced all over the world because of the lack of knowledge about the original dance.
The latest contrivance in this Salsa-Dance-School-Bachata from the Western World is coming from Striptease having the ladies fondle themselves to look more sensual for the dance partner or the bystanders, but do we really want this artificial pretended sensuality on the social dance floor? Shouldn't the sensuality on the social dance floor be the real deal and not a strip act? Shouldn't it be based on charisma, personality and interaction together with natural beautiful smooth controlled body movement and naturally playfulness?
Do we in general want the interaction on the social dance floor between the sexes to be a theater play exactly like what you see in Sport Dance and other Show Dances which is all about the outer, the spot etc.?
Social Dance is all about the inner, about how you feel and how your dance partner feel, it's a non verbal delicate physical communication between the two, about how the leader best possible can arrange the interaction between them regarding the flow, the movements, the dynamic on a limited space and of course how the follower the best possible way can merge so they will become one movement, one feeling, one delicate affair, this is the essence of authentic social dancing and it should never be something transformed into a theatre act with artificial feelings and interaction, therefore we need to focus on what is going on, why we socialize, why we dance and why we meet!
"Ignorance leads to de-evolution, only know how leads to evolution" - Frank E
The Definition of Bachata is very clear, it's what the experienced Social Bachata Dancers are dancing in the Caribbean where many of the best and most dedicated have been a part of the evolution of the dance from the sixties with the Bolero as the foundation to the much more distinctive style of today using the above mentioned dance structure - See Dance Videos Bachata.
This Original Bachata dance style is spreading in the Western World from dedicated social dancers and teachers there, who actually have made an effort to understand the essence of or at least some of the essence of Real Bachata. So far only few are teaching the complete dance structure to Real Bachata in the Western World. Many only teach the footwork part and not the complete structure and how to combine the different elements into a more variated dance experience so the students will have a fully understanding of the Dance - You can see most of the instructors who teach part of or the complete dance here: Dance Teachers Bachata.
What you choose to dance can only be your own personal choice, but by learning the original dance Bachata which is as mentioned devoleped specific for the music Bachata you will actually feel that you are dancing to and with the music and thereby you will have the maximum of good dance experiences and fun together with all your dance partners.
Social dancing is about living and as humans we are designed for movement and from birth we are very rhythmic and social individuals: That's why social dancing is so enriching and give us so much pleasure!
Labeling of the Bachata Dance Styles of today according to the used dance techniques:
The original social dance from the Dominican Republic
The western salsa school invented dance with Salsa,Tango ect.
|Whatever you are dancing romantic to a slow "Bolero" track or in medium or fast tempo alternating between close and open position dancing with more or less combinations of turns and footwork the label is Bachata because this is the accepted and used label of today by the population of the Dominican Republic, but only if it's danced with the original basic elements to this social dance coming from Dominican Bolero, Dominican Merengue and Cuban Son but evolved over decades along with and to fit to the music Bachata as we know it today and as described above.
However instructors teaching this dance style find it necessary with adjectives as Original or Authentic or Dominican for people and students to understand what is teach at their workshops and courses around the western world and elsewhere.
|Popchata could be the main label and it covers more or less different dance styles "invented" by the salsa dance schools in the early zeros (2000). The Subgenres to Popchata you most frequently encountered are Modern, Sensual, Dominican Fusion, Urban, Bachatango, a clear description of what the labels cover should be included by the instructors themselves so people will have a clear idea of what it is they can expect of the teaching, These styles are however al danced with the salsa dance schools invented side to side steps, back and forth steps, side walking turns and forward walking turns as basic and then including more or less Salsa, Tango, Sport/Ballroom, Zouk, HipHop, Pole and Contemporary dance elements.
|The Music: Bachata Bolero (the older first genre) Y Bachata Moderna (the sucesor with the electric guitar and in gererally faster more dynamic, the sound from DR most common of today)
||The Music: Bachata Urbana (Bachata merged mostly with R'n'B, the sound from USA)
Author Frank E
About the Author: Frank E has danced and analyzed Original Bachata and Fusion Bachata since 2003 - He has been equipped with video footage from the Dominican Republic dating back to 2000 and continuous forward and has followed Bachata on YouTube from it's inception in 2005 and thereby reviewed thousands of dance videos with both the main Bachata dance styles over and over again.
He has analyzed all elements in both dance styles and then finally dissected both dance styles into basic elements to define the structure of the dances: Original Bachata from the Dominican Republic and Salsa Dance Schools Popchata from the Western World.
In addition to Original Bachata Frank E teach Bolero, Son, Merengue, ChaChaChá and Casino (Cuban Salsa) at all levels in DK.
Lots of Bachata Dance Music
First recorded Bachata by Jose M. Calderon
More Old School Bachata, Click Here!
The Origin of the Music Bachata
Adam Taub inteview Leonardo Paniagua
'Billy Bachata': The Bass in Bachata
Joan Soriano: The Lead Guitar in Bachata
Bachata Dance: Roots, Style and Evolution
Dance Ducumentary from DR