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Originating in the Dominican Republic, the bachata is a latin dance based of an eight-count beat. In recent years, the bachata has gained popularity in the United States alongside the salsa. When I was fourteen years old and taking salsa lessons, I was introduced to this rhythmic dance. Its simplicity, soothing rhythm, and fun beats made me fall in love with this dance, as I hope all of you will as well.

Not only is the bachata fun, but anyone can do it! It is as easy as 1-2-3-4. All you have to do is close your eyes, feel the rhythm, and start the steps. And, you don’t need anything but a beat in your head and three steps worth of space. You can dance the bachata alone, with a partner, in the kitchen, at a park, or on the dance floor. However, if you are on a dance floor, be aware of those around you to avoid unintentional crashes.

 

I hope that you enjoy my instructable and the bachata.

Step 1: Basic Overview





Before breaking down the steps, the above video provides you with an idea of what the basic step will look like overall. This step should be first mastered alone. Later on, we will cover dancing with a partner.

Step 2: Starting Position


Stand feet together. Place your arms at a ninety degree angle with your hands in front of your torso, slightly above your waist. Or, loosely rest your arms down at your sides. Slightly bend your knees.

Step 3: Basic to the Side




As previously stated, there are eight counts in this dance. Step 3 will cover four of these eight beats. Each beat has its own step:

 
Beat 1: Extend your left leg directly out to the side. Shift weight onto the  left leg.

Beat 2: Move your right leg toward the left leg to close the gap between your feet. Place your feet together while simultaneously shifting your weight onto the right leg.

Beat 3: Extend your left leg directly out to the side. Shift your weight onto the left leg.

Beat 4: Move your right leg toward your left leg to close the gap between your feet. Keep your weight on your left leg while lifting your right hip. This causes the right foot to slightly lift off of the floor so that only the padding touches.

 

CAUTION: 

1. Do not lean over to the left side on beat 4. Keep your torso and body upright to avoid tipping over.


2. Do not put your weight on the leg of the lifted hip. This will allow you to easily transition from Step 3 to Step 4; otherwise, an extra beat is added and your leg will be late for the following step.


Step 4: Return Step

 


The return step is the exact same process in the opposite direction. Therefore, this step also contains four beats and proceeds as follows:

 

            Transition: Drop your right hip without putting weight on your right leg.

Beat 1: Extend your right leg directly out to the side. Shift weight onto the right leg.

Beat 2: Move your left leg toward right leg to close the gap between your feet. Place your feet together while simultaneously shifting your weight onto the left leg.

Beat 3: Extend your right leg directly out to the side. Shift your weight onto the right leg.

Beat 4: Move your left leg toward the right leg to close the gap between your feet. Keep your weight on the right leg while lifting the left hip. This causes the left foot to slightly lift off of the floor so that only the padding touches.

 

CAUTION:

1. Do not lean to the right on beat 4.

2. Do not put weight on the leg of the lifted hip.

* See Caution on Step 3 for further explanation.

 

Follow Steps 3 and 4 continuously without stopping and repeat them. That’s it!

Step 5: Paring Up: Partner Embrace


There are two types of partner embraces: open embrace and closed embrace.

 

Open Embrace: This embrace is best for those just starting to learn the bachata. As seen in the below picture, both dancers stand directly across from and facing one another with their elbows bent. The lead, in this case the male, faces his palms up to grasp the follow’s hands. The follow places her hands palm down in the lead’s corresponding hands.

 

Closed Embrace:  Standing facing one another, the lead extends his arm out to the side about shoulder height to grab the follow’s corresponding extended arm. The lead places his other arm under the follow’s armpit and places his hand on the follow’s upper-back. The follow rests her corresponding arm over the arm of the lead that is wrapped around her side. Their arms make what is called a frame.

 

CAUTION:


1. While in a partner embrace, do not watch your feet to avoid bumping heads.

2. When beginning with a partner, start with the open embrace to allow more room for your feet to learn the steps.


Step 6: Basic With a Partner



Facing each other, the dancers parallel one anothers' movement. Thus, when the lead, the man, moves to his right, the follow, the women, simultaneously moves to her left and vice versa.

The lead signals the beginning of the first step by shifting the pair’s weight to one side and extending the opposite leg. Then, they start Steps 3 and 4 together.



Step 7: The End Result With a Partner



After putting together all of these steps, the above demonstration will result.  

*Notice we are not strictly moving from side to side. This is because the lead, keeping the frame (See Step 5: Closed Embrace), is stepping out at a slight angle. After getting comfortable with the basic side-to-side step, your partner and you may want to try moving around at small angles.


Step 8: Artists and Songs

To practice and for recreation, here are a few bachata artists and songs.

Monchy y Alexandra
    Dos Locos
    No es Una Novela
    Perdidos
    Te Quiero Igual Que Ayer

Aventura
     Romeo y Julieta
     Mi Corazoncito
     Los Infieles
     La Boda
     Por Un Beso

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