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
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.