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Bachata Dance:

With a history attached to the countryside and rural neighborhoods of the Dominican Republic during the 1960s, 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."

Basically, couples learning this particular style will follow "Back to Front, Front to Back, Left to Right, Right to Left" steps with bachata dance. Often performed by couples, the dance is also known as a participation dance and a social dance. Overall, the dance is quite popular, as it is characterized by simplicity and synchronization.

The History of Bachata Dance and Music

The creation of bachata dance was the brainchild of servants, who were the first to embrace this form of movement. The music was generally played after returning home from a hard day at work. Dancers performed to music created with the use of everyday items that were commonly found in the backyard, including garbage cans and fences. In some parts of the Dominican Republic, the term 'bachata' actually means 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 and the use of various guitar styles. As a rule of thumb, male singers provide the lyrical accompaniment of the dance with early icons including Jose Manuel Calderon, Ramon Cordero, and Rafeal Encarnacion. Today, an electric guitar is used to supply dancers with music that is full of rhythm. Overall, the use of electric instruments are much easier to groove to than earlier styles.

The Steps of Bachata Dance

In order to get the hang of the basic footwork associated with bachata dance, you will become familiar with 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.

As you learn the steps, you should start with the right foot making a chasse (gliding movement) to the right on counts 1, 2, and 3. On the fourth count, you should touch the left toe beside your right foot. On the other hand, you will also tap the left toe in place apart from the right foot making an upwards jerk with your left hip. The same movement is then performed from the left 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 you are familiar with, the more likely you will be able to lead or be led. Most often, it is the male that leads the female in bachata dance.

In regards to the evolution of bachata dance, you may encounter the different changes seen in the music prominent from the 1980s to the end of the 1990s. There is no doubt that the shift in music over time influenced the variation in bachata dance steps. A few considerations include bachata-bolero (slow and classic), cabaret bachata (more free and open), sexual double entendre bachata (popular during the 1980s), tecno-bachata (short-lived during the late 1980s), romantic bachata (lasted throughout the 1990s), and frontier bachata (early 1990s).

The Growing Popularity

An increasing amount of people are becoming more interested in bachata dance, as there are many different advantages to learning the steps and becoming familiar with the music. Some of the many benefits involve increasing overall health, building confidence, learning a new skill, making new acquaintances, lowering blood glucose levels, and improved hand and eye coordination.