The bachata is a dance that originated in the Dominican Republic and includes Latin American and African influences. In the 1960s, the original style was slow and involved dancing in a closed position. In other words, the dance partners danced close together and made contact with their bodies. Bachata of the 1960s was strongly influenced by Cuban Bolero.
Although the original form of the Bachata dance is still danced today both in the Dominican Republic and elsewhere in the word, it now employs more steps and is often danced at a faster tempo or pace than was the case in the past. The bachata dance has been influenced by and incorporates elements from other styles of dances, such as the salsa, cumbia and merengue.
The dance consists of four beats per each minute. This is the tempo of the dance, and usually the dancer will take three steps for every four beats of music, with a pause on the last beat. Often there is also a Cuban movement of the hips. This movement of the hips is integral to the dance as it reflects the soul of the dance. When dancers step they bend their knees. The dance is flat footed reflecting the traditional style of dancing of the region of origin. The dance usually involves three steps in one direction followed by three steps in the opposite direction.
The bachata dance has several varieties and styles present today. The one style is called the “Embrace” and can be danced solo, using a hand-hold, or an open embrace or close embrace. The latter style, the close embrace, is more popular and seen more often at night clubs.
Embellishments have been added to the basic style of the bachata dance, these are also most often evident in dancers at night clubs. An example of such an embellishment is when the dancer taps their free foot, lifts the foot or even wraps the foot around their partners’ leg.
The bachata is not as complex a dance as the salsa, although over time it has started to incorporate more complex movements. With the bachata, most of the movement is focused in the lower part of the body rather than the upper part of the body. Many people view the bachata as a courtship dance between two people with the movement of the body conveying the feelings between the two partners.
The bachata became even more popular after 1990 when Juan Luis Guerra was awarded a Grammy for the album named “Bachata Rosa”. This exposure to American audiences served to increase the popularity of the bachata and formed the basis for later styles of dance and music. Bachata in the western world is often called fusion bachata because, although it retains elements of the original bachata dance moves, it also incorporates movements that are akin to western styles.
Other styles of bachata that have since been developed include: tango bachata, modern bachata and ballroom bachata. One thing that is certain is that the influence of bachata on dance around the world has been profound.