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.
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.