Bachata (dance)

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A couple dancing bachata

Bachata is a style of social dance from the Dominican Republic which is now danced all over the world. It is connected with bachata music.


Basic side to side step

Bachata is a social couple dance with a lead and follow that can be performed in open, semi-closed or closed position. The basic step involves an eight-count side-to-side movement, with many variations and styles that can be added. On counts 4 and 8, bachata includes an exaggerated hip check that gives it a characteristic look and differentiates it from bolero or son dancing.[1] Counts 1 to 3 are moving to the lead's left, starting with the left foot, and counts 5 to 7 are moving to the lead's right, starting with the right foot. The hip check can be performed as a tap or slight lift of the foot for beginners.[2]

The basic dance sequence can incorporate turns and hand movements from other ballroom dances like salsa or cha-cha.[1]


From the late 1990s, dancers in the Western world started creating novel dance forms inspired by bachata music. The most well-known example of this is the made-up basic step commonly referred to as the "side-to-side step", which is sometimes accompanied by an exaggerated "pop” of the hips during the tap. These novel western dance forms were mostly created copying dance moves from other partner dances of various origins, Latin and non-Latin alike. Many such dances exist today, with the first of these often referred to as “Western side basic step”.

Often referred to in the West as "authentic / Dominican" bachata, the original social dance was created in the Dominican Republic during the 1960s and was danced only in closed position, like the bolero, often in a close embrace[citation needed], often involving skin-to-skin belly-to-belly contact.[2] Bachata basic steps are performed by moving within a small square (side, side, forward and then tap with your toes, then side, side, back and tap). This step was inspired by the bolero basic step, but evolved over time to include a tap and syncopations (steps in between the beats), helping dancers express the more dynamic music being commonly played. The hand placement can vary according to the position of the dances, which can range from very close to open to completely open.

Bachata is still danced today in the Caribbean and all over the world, and has been evolving for several decades. It is increasingly danced to faster music, adding more footwork, simple turns and rhythmic free-styling with alternation between close (romantic) and open position. Bachata is danced with soft hip movements and a tap or syncopation (1, 2, 3, tap/syncopation). It can also be danced with or without bouncing (moving the body up on the beats and down again in between the beats by adding slight spring to ones legs).


Western "traditional"[edit]

At some point in the late 1990s, dancers and dance schools in the Western world began using a side-to-side pattern instead of the box steps. The basic steps of this pattern move side to side, changing direction after every tap. Characteristics of this "early" dance school dance are the close connection between partners, soft hip movements, tap with a small "pop" of the hip on the 4th step (1, 2, 3, tap/hip), and not including many turns/figures. Most of the styling in this dance is from ballroom dance and show moves like dips are commonly used. This was the first novel dance to bachata music that was popularized by dance schools outside the Dominican Republic.


Another dance was developed shortly after the western "traditional" and was called Bachatango.[3] This is a fusion dance from Turin, Italy, consisting of short sequences taken from western "traditional" steps combined with different Tango steps and danced like tango. The "pop" count is used to add elaborated sensuality and varied Latin ballroom dance styles and also includes the characteristic kicks from tango. The turns are like in the "western traditional" dance. Although in the past this dance was danced exclusively to bachata music, it has recently been danced to tango music as well. Even though bachatango is unheard of in the Dominican Republic, bachata's country of origin, the dance enjoyed a period of popularity among foreign dance instructors outside the Caribbean. Still, nowadays the dance is not often seen on the social dance floors.

Bachata fusion[edit]

A dance was developed by the Mexican dancer[4] Carlos Espinosa[5] around 2005 based on the "western traditional" basic elements. The basics are the same as the "western traditional" dance, but with added dance elements and styling from Brazilian Zouk, Salsa, tango and garifieira samba ballroom. In this dance,[6] couples typically move their torsos more and greatly exaggerate (especially the ladies). The most direct influence on the modern/moderna dance comes from the adoption of salsa turn patterns; these, together with dips became the core of the dance.


The Sensual dance style was created in Cádiz, Andalusia, Spain, by Korke Escalona and Judith Cordero.[7][8][9][10]

Korke learned the basics of western "traditional" in 1998, but with no more information than the basic step (four steps to the side) and inspired by bachata music, he merged the traditional bachata dynamics with Brazilian zouk dances styles,[11] developing his own dance style inspired by soft bachata songs of Juan Luis Guerra and natural "waving" movements in close position with a partner[12] and by understanding how the leader (traditionally a man) could lead the body of the follower (traditionally a lady) to interpret the music.[13] The result is a novel, independent dance form with strict principles of leading and following, with mostly circular movements and body waves similar to Brazilian Zouk, and with isolations and dips when the dancers feel the music calls for it.[14][15]

Korke is the creator of the BachataStars competition, in which participants get a random song and show ability to improvise, while showing their dance skills and musicality.[citation needed]

Ballroom style[edit]

Ballroom style is yet another dance developed in the West, primarily for dance competitions rather than social dancing, with very extreme hip movements and much ballroom dance styling. The basic step is based on western "traditional" dance.

Other styles[edit]

There are other Western dances, pioneered and promoted by different teachers around the world, each with its own distinct flair. Whether these are considered completely different styles or simply variations of the main styles above is often argued by teachers and students alike.


  1. ^ a b Sellers 2014.
  2. ^ a b Sowell 2014.
  3. ^ "Bachatango". Port Dance Studio. Retrieved 26 January 2023.
  4. ^ "Carlos Espinosa Bachata - Latina Break". (in French). Retrieved 26 January 2023.
  5. ^ "Carlos Espinosa Bachata - Latina Break". (in French). Retrieved 26 January 2023.
  6. ^ "Todo listo para que Salamanca Bachata Festival reabra sus puertas del 2 al 4 de diciembre ✔️" (in Spanish). 29 November 2022. Retrieved 26 January 2023.
  7. ^ "Bailarines y maestros internacionales de bachata en Comodoro". Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  8. ^ "Cádiz, escaparate de la Bachata en el campeonato internacional". 27 October 2012. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  9. ^ "Soñar con los pies". 10 August 2011. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  10. ^ "Salsa Liveband auf der Salsanight im G6 |". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 20 September 2015.
  11. ^ "Dance Styles". University College Cork. Retrieved 10 April 2024.
  12. ^ Korke & Judith interview - Masters of Bachata 2016, retrieved 10 December 2022
  13. ^ Korke & Judith interview - Masters of Bachata 2016, retrieved 10 December 2022
  14. ^ "Honing Different Dance Skills Part III: Bachata".
  15. ^ "Sensual style: dances, instructors, levels & languages".


External links[edit]