How to dance bachata mexican style

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Like all folk dancing, traditional Mexican dances provide a glimpse into the culture of the region. Not only do these dances from Mexico express the rhythms of the music, but also the vital colors woven into Mexican clothing and decoration, as well as themes important to the region such as Catholicism and communion with nature. Many American school children learn the Jarabe Tapatío (Mexican Hat Dance) in their classrooms, while tourists to Mexico may witness a performance of Danza del Venado (Dance of the Deer) or Tlacolorerosis (an agricultural dance). While these traditional dances each have very different roots and styles, they bring various aspects of Mexican culture to the audiences who see them performed.

Bachata is a dance from the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean islands. Both the music and the dance have been influenced by Cuban Bolero, the Merengue (also of Dominican Republic origin), Salsa and Cumbia. Bachata music has four beats per measure. In Bachata dancing, the dancer takes three steps to four beats of music. As with Salsa, the step timing is three steps and then a one-beat pause. The knees are flexed on the steps. Given its humble origins, the steps are flat footed.

Zouk is both a dance and a type of music. This sensual and energetic dance has roots in Brazilian Lambada and Samba, while the music has French Caribbean roots. Zouk has a characteristic wave-like movement, elongated steps and striking hair movements by the lady. The movements are a rhythmic side to side and a rippling forward and back wave-like motion. Body rolls are reminiscent of the Samba, while hip grinds are reminiscent of the Lambada.

Some salsa styles are fast, almost frenetic, with whirling partner moves, while others seem more relaxed and sensual with elements of Argentine tango or slow rhumba in them. Salsa is usually a partnered dance with a lead and follow, dancing using improvisation of various movement combinations. The beat of Salsa music is 4/4, but there are three weight changes in each measure. What happens during that extra beat is part of what differentiates the styles of the dance. While the body changes weight, the upper torso remains almost immobile. This means that most of the motion ends up in the hips, which is how the phrase “Cuban Motion” got applied to this Latin dance form.

Cha Cha is a lively, fun, cheeky and playful dance.  It is a non-progressive dance that emphasizes Cuban motion, distinguished by the chasses (cha-cha-cha) typically danced during the 4&1 counts of the music. Cuban motion in Cha Cha is more staccato than Rumba to reflect the music with emphasis on count 1.

Reggaeton is a genre of urban Latin music characterized by fast-paced dance beats that fuses styles of reggae and hip-hop. As it spread from its origins in Panama and Puerto Rico, it has become associated with a style of dancing common in parties that can be performed both with a partner and without.

Tango is characterized by a close hold, a low center of gravity and an emphasis on Contra Body movement.  Movement is stealthy, almost cat-like and has an unmistakable staccato feel and major dramatic attitude.  The Leader’s right arm is further around and lower on the Follower’s back, than in the other Smooth dances.  The Leader’s left arm is bent at 90 degree angle with left hand held closed in toward the Leader’s body and face.  The follower’s left hand is placed behind and below the Leader’s upper right arm.

Kizomba is a dance and music genre originally from Angola. The term “kizomba” comes from the linguistic expression Kimbundo, which means “party”. Kizomba  allows the pair to play the music they are dancing to and, according to the couple’s intimacy, becoming an extremely close dance with slow and sensual moves, requiring great leading skills and complicity between man and woman, or a more open dance with faster steps, foot work and tricks.

Bachata Dance History, Steps, Styles, Music & Competitions



The Inhibition and the Rise of Bachata

Bachata dance is known for its love stories, and its syncopated rhythm. The dance actually was born of the music in the Dominican Republic during the 1960’s. Unfortunately, a dictatorship that found Bachata to be an art form of low standing held the music and the dance back for decades. Recent years, however, have seen the heartbreaking stories of the Bachata evolve and grow into a worldwide sensation.

The History & Origins of Bachata

Bachata originated in the 1960’s throughout the countryside of the Dominican Republic. The music was first developed with a heavy guitar emphasis and heartrending love stories as its basis. However, it grew primarily within bars and brothels, and this led to Bachata being held back for literally decades.

The Dominican Republic was being led by a dictator by the name of Trujillo during the time that Bachata was born. He absolutely embraced and set Meringue on a pedestal. However, he abhorred Bachata. Not only did he find it personally offensive, claiming that it was a lower art form, he actually banned both the music and the dance completely. Therefore during his reign, Bachata was only enjoyed in the brothels. Naturally, this did not help its credibility and kept it from evolving as the other dance styles born in the Domincan did during that time. Even after the Trujillo reign ended, the Bachata was still frowned upon by society.

Although the Bachata dance itself is a spinoff of the music, in recent years the music has grown more slowly than the dance. Bachata dance continues to grow and thrive all over the world, and has finally reached a place where it is widely accepted.

Bachata's Basic Steps

Originally, the basic step of the Bachata was danced from front to back. Now, however, it is more commonly danced from side to side. It is counted one, two, three, hip. The hip action of the Bachata, specifically the female partner’s hip action, is the most notable characteristic of this dance.

The Three Most Popular Bachata Styles

There are several different styles of Bachata dance, some of which closely resemble the original one and others being more stylized. Bachata, however, is still growing and evolving.

  • The Dominican Bachata is the truest form in that it is danced according to the original style. Typically, the traditional Bachata does not require a lot of turn patterns, and incorporates many free style movements that are not seen in the more structured Bachata styles. Also, Dominican Bachata has a good deal of footwork, and a bouncy feel to it.
  • Bachata Moderna, otherwise known as Modern Style, is the newest form of Bachata. It retains some of the traditional Bachata elements, but it is also heavily influenced by Tango and Bolero, among other Latin dance forms. The Modern Style relies heavily on crosses, but it does keep the typical Bachata hip movement on each four count.
  • The Traditional Style is the type of Bachata that has spread across the globe. While the original Bachata is similarly romantic, it does not have such a strong emphasis on turn patterns. Dips are also heavily used in the Traditional Bachata Style, but that eternal hip movement on the fourth beat is consistent even here.

The Music that led to Bachata Dance

Bachata music has experienced the same ups and downs that the dance has since the 1960’s. It has had to fight for survival just as the dance has. Aside from the fact that Trujillo was not a fan of Bachata, the Dominican Republic was in love with Salsa and Meringue music during its birth as well. That love combined with Trujillo’s hate led to a dead end street for Bachata music and dance for many years. However, this guitar based music has indeed survived, and continues to grow and thrive in popularity all over the world.

In 1992, Juan Luis Guerra solidified Bachata’s place in the music industry when he was awarded a Grammy for “Bachata Rosa.” Later, Aventura stayed at the top of the food chain in Latino markets globally with their single “Obsession,” which is another Bachata tune. There are many other notable artists still creating Bachata music, such as Zacarias Ferrera and Anthony Santos.

Bachata Competitions

As Bachata dance’s popularity continues to grow, so does professional competitions which endorse it. The San Francisco Bachata Festival and the Toronto Bachata Competition are two such examples.

what is hidden in the names of dances and how to distinguish them


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Articles about the Dominican Republic

Each dance is unique and inimitable. Rhythms, movements, emotions - Caribbean dances give dancers a pleasure that has no comparison. And if you have the opportunity to try dancing at least one of them, do it! Try, feel, learn. So a new World will open before you, in which you will want to return again and again.


It was music. She pulled me in and called me after her. I was standing in a dark alley in a new country for me. Everything I wanted to know and feel. Carefully stepping, I went to the sounds.

The melody was tender, filled with sadness. The sadness that comes to the heart after separation. Finally I saw people. They were couples. Their bodies were tightly intertwined, they moved smoothly and unhurriedly to the beat of the enchanting music.

“One, two, three, four... kick. One, two, three, four... kick.”
"Ba-cha-ta" - someone whispered softly in his ear. I turned around and his hands were already on my waist. I pushed aside my thoughts and trusted my partner. "I can't," I whispered softly.
“Nothing needs to be done. Just listen to my body and move to the beat. I will think. For the fourth time, the thigh goes up. Smoothly, as if you want to lightly hurt someone.

This is how I met BACHATA . More than 8 years have passed since that evening, and bachata has become for me one of the symbols of the Dominican Republic.

The name of the dance comes from the Spanish bachata or cumbachata. These were poor people's parties with obligatory copious libations. Such gatherings were held in the courtyards of houses or simply on the street in the shade of trees. The musical style and dance of the same name originated here in the Dominican Republic and spread widely in the Caribbean.

Musically, bachata is difficult to confuse with other dances. Danced for 4 counts with an emphasis on the last one. According to the execution technique, everything is simple: four side steps, and at the moment of emphasis, the movement of the hip in a spiral upwards. Bachata is always a closed position and close contact. There are very few turns, a lot of lateral penetrations and “throwing” the lady from side to side.

"Musica de amargue" - music of bitterness, words about unrequited love, the desire to prolong the minutes of meetings - all this makes bachata an unusually sensual dance.


Another popular dance that the whole country dances is SALSA . Salsa comes from the Spanish Salsa - sauce. This dance tastes spicy and spicy like chili sauce. The temperament of salsa is a spark of expression, it is a palette of accents and a fairly high tempo.

There are several versions regarding the name "salsa". So, according to one of them, a group performing Cuban music performed in a small club in Miami. She turned the people on so much that everyone started shouting: “Salsa! Salsa!”, implying that the music was as spicy and hot as the sauce used to season the dishes in this establishment.

According to another version, the name goes back to the well-known at the beginning of the century dance "Echale Salsita". In the late 60s, a concert was held in the United States, at which Latin American musicians presented the "new boogaloo rhythm" - nothing more than a Cuban dream mixed with merengue, cha-cha-cha, mambo and boogie-woogie. Watching people from different parts of America dance to the new rhythm, Tito Puente said: "Esto es una gran salsa!", Which literally translates as "Great sauce!". The great sonero meant that, just like in a sauce, various ingredients were mixed in rhythm and a particularly “tasty” mixture was born.

It doesn't matter which version you choose. All of them somehow agree on one thing: salsa is a mixture of different Latin American styles and rhythms.

If we talk about what dance figures are typical for salsa, it is worth noting that over the years the dance has undergone changes. For example, in the early 20s, salsa resembled a slower version of rumba, and in the 40s in New York, jazz and blues motifs change the character of the dance, and it manifests itself in the main step.

Technically Salsa is not difficult. The main thing is to openly express your emotions and feelings. Here and intrigue, and courtship, and refusal. Salsa is like a little story of two, embodied in dance. And despite the fact that the figures are repeated, with each new partner something unique and inimitable is born.

Since Cuba is the birthplace of salsa, Cuban sleep can be considered one of its varieties.

The world learned about this dance back in the 30s of the 20th century, it can be considered the "grandfather" of modern salsa, both dance and music.

Son is a pair dance with different rhythmic patterns. The main feature is that it is danced on contratiempo, they begin to move at the expense of four and eight. The dream is like a slow-motion version of salsa. Musically combines Spanish folk romance and African rhythms.

According to one version, the name of the dance goes back to the Latin “sonare” – to play, to sing. According to another version, this was the name of the dance form in Mexico in the 18th century.

Chassé steps, stops and rotations predominate in the performance technique, and the dancers in a pair hardly touch each other.

There are four main varieties of Sona:

Montuno - rustic substyle, more free than the others. Guaracha - fast, with a special basic step: crosswise with weight transfer between the legs. Changui - springy step. Traditional - elegant slow sleep.


Have you ever tasted airy white sweets made from egg whites? Yes, yes, they are the most that are called Meringues. Delicate and crispy figurines have won the hearts of many sweet tooth around the world.

Is it pure coincidence that a dance born in the Dominican Republic has the same name with a difference in the last letter?

Translated from Spanish merengue means "meringue", and "meringue" in turn goes back to French and means "kiss".

Born in the Dominican Republic, this extremely sensual and incendiary dance is also called MERENGUE . He attracts with his temperament and expression. And the movements are so light that it looks like meringues melting in your mouth.

However, the issue of origin causes a lot of controversy. I will outline only the most interesting versions of the appearance of merengue in the Dominican Republic.

In 1844, a melody was played to commemorate the victory of the Dominican troops over the Haitians. It was she who inspired the appearance of dance in the province of Cibao. Rumor has it that this cheerful song made fun of one commander of the Dominican regiment, who fled the battlefield. mid 19century, this melody became beloved and popular and replaced other rhythms of that time.

According to another version, the name goes back to the name of the figure of the Cuban dance upa habanera.

However, the most plausible version involves the participation of slaves cultivating sugarcane plantations. According to it, working slaves were chained to each other so that they would not escape. So they pulled one leg. For the slaves to work at a certain pace, the overseer beat them with rods, setting the speed.

Merengue is a very rhythmic dance. And this rhythm is able to influence. So, for example, in the history of the Dominican Republic, the fact is known that the political slogans of the famous dictator Trujillo sounded to the rhythms of merengue.

As a dance, merengue uses a large number of figures and ornaments. Especially often used are circular movements of the hips, rotation of the body, movement of the shoulders at an accelerated pace. Many of them go back to the folklore version of the dance.


Reggaeton was first discovered in the 1970s, when immigrants from Jamaica brought with them the reggae musical style, which was new to the United States. It combined elements of different cultures: hip-hop, rap, techno.

Reggaeton is such a dynamic and charming dance that it's hard to stand still if you hear its rhythms. The movements are often frank and frivolous so that some may even seem vulgar. It is no coincidence that in the United States the authorities categorically forbade the development of this style. The dance movements were not in accordance with the moral principles of the government, and all attempts to organize reggaeton discos were severely suppressed by the police.

The name is derived from the name of the musical style "reggae" plus the magnifying suffix "ton". Reggae, in turn, comes from the term "pere-pere", which means "rags" or "torn clothes", and this is the first key to understanding the style and character of Reggaeton.

It can be danced both solo and in pairs. Double reggaeton is singled out in a separate category, where elements of salsa and bachata are captured. The greatest attention is paid to the legs and stomach - legs, hips move constantly. To all this, movements of the arms, shoulders and the whole body are added. It turns out a bold and beautiful dance.

Perreo, a sub-direction of reggaeton, is considered hyperexual and rather intimate. (from Spanish perro - dog). The partner stands with her back to the partner and performs various twists of the hips (vines) and shaking.

It is worth noting that Dominican reggaeton is the youngest dance direction that has won special love and popularity.

Why will we never dance bachata like the Dominicans?

Dominicans dance bachata differently: light, uncomplicated, plastic. Their attitude to dance is simple - first of all, it is a communication tool, and never an end in itself. Almost none of them learned to dance specifically, in the Dominican Republic there are no bachata schools for locals, but everyone fervently moves their hips from birth.

On the island, a few people can explain the basics of plastic surgery or how to take steps. And even then, they are mostly professional choreographers who dance other dances besides bachata. But the naturalness and smoothness of the movements of most ordinary Dominicans is fascinating.

Our bachata is the result of training and labor

Europeans who dance bachata outside the Dominican Republic know what is right in music, what can and cannot be done, where are the boundaries of style and are aware of the intricacies of figure building. For a long time they learned the right flow, the right swing, the right plastique. Therefore, their bachata is more choreographic, more systematic and calculated, they take the dance seriously. Some are so serious that they start non-children's international holivars, distribute those who dance correctly and who do not into different camps.

For Dominicans, dancing is just one aspect of communication

Dominicans don't care how they dance. They are fascinated by the choreography of a moderna bachata dancer visiting the Dominican Republic and touched when a white man tries to dance authentically. He tries - because in order to really dance like the Dominicans, you must first of all treat the dance in the same way, without piety, without cultivating a single correct style, forgetting that music can be counted. And above all, local dancers never make dance the main occasion of any event, be it a festival, a party or a meeting with friends.

Dance is only an addition to communication, a means for intimacy, for harmonizing and synchronizing the surrounding reality - music, a loved one, a buzz from movement. Therefore, when you go to an average Dominican party, you will see a lot of noisy drinking people, and dancers dancing just one figure during the whole evening. One Carl!

Video from the personal archive of Dasha Elizarova, project Bachateame Mamita

All the rules, consistency, figure building, disputes about how to dance a real bachata, authentic festivals were either created by non-minicans or appeared outside the island.

Dominicans are mainly engaged in each other, and dancing is a great prelude for this.

Video from the personal archive of Dasha Elizarova, project Bachateame Mamita

Women's style in bachata

We make dance a big event with rules

It's hard for us to give up the idea that dance should be varied, interesting, spectacular. From the idea that it is important to dance to a certain score, to break music into eights.

It is difficult to question the words of a beloved teacher who says that if you dance differently, you will betray the style. It is difficult to let go of yourself and your body, to go beyond the learned figures, it is difficult to improvise, it is difficult to find yourself in the dance.

But we dance the way we dance, because, unlike the Dominicans, we all learned this. We studied at dance schools, where they explained to us how to do it and how not to. And where very little attention is paid to the most important thing, to what the majority came to dance for - the pleasure of dancing, improvisation, attention to the person with whom you are dancing. To a person, girl or man, and not a partner or partner, from whom you expect the correct conduct or execution of figures.

As a result, at parties, outside of dancing, we see bored figures buried in phones, waiting girls sadly sitting on the edges of the dance floor, and only occasionally - cheerful broken companies from those schools where communication is as important as dance.

We will never really dance bachata like the Dominicans. We came to dance for completely different reasons, we treat it in a completely different way, and it's too difficult to change it. Yes, and no need to change.

It is important to follow your line of dance development

We have a lot to learn from the Dominicans: ease of attitude to dance and the surrounding reality, the ability to find your own unique style within two or three basic steps. But, unlike them, the majority of dance school visitors are looking for, in addition to new communication, something completely different - an interesting hobby, an opportunity for self-realization, discovering new possibilities for their body and mind, a variety of figures and footwork, new approaches and interesting theories.

And in the Dominican Republic itself, there are dancers who are distinguished by the richness of their steps, their elegantly controlled style, a wide range of figures, and the clarity of lines and movements. Or too bright, too prominent character of the dance. But they usually say about such people that they dance inauthenticly, not the way they should.

Video from the personal archive of Dasha Elizarova, project Bachateame Mamita

We will never really dance bachata like the Dominicans. We came to dance for completely different reasons, we treat it in a completely different way, and it's too difficult to change it. Yes, and no need to change.

It is important to understand that with all possible trajectories of learning and immersion in culture, the most incorrect is the literal and blind copying of the external feed. Either find yourself, your style and your pleasure, as the Dominicans do, or develop yourself as a dancer without looking back at the external match with any original.

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