Bachata – How to Dance Smoother as a Beginner
I used to believe that smoothness in Bachata comes from knowing more moves, more dips and more tricks. Boy, was I mistaken! If you want your Bachata dancing to be smoother it really comes from simply slowing down, staying on beat and focussing on your partner.
- Slow Down: When you learn a new move, you want to try it in a nightclub or in class. You do the move over and over again. The practice is great! But in your excitement to complete the move and get to the end, you end up moving too quickly. This is a mistake that every dancer makes – they rush. The easiest way to think about it is that you have eight counts in Bachata. The count is one, two, three and four is a tap, five, six, seven, and eight is a tap. Even when doing a simple turn many dancers finish too early and start into the next count. Next time you are listening to a Bachata song and practicing your moves, tell yourself “I want to be late…I want to be late…I want to be late.” Smoothness comes by dancing at the edge – finishing the step just before the next beat starts. When I learned Bachata, I would always be ahead because I was worried I would be late. The irony is that smoothness comes from lateness. Here is an analogy that might help. If I give you an orange and ask you to squeeze it and get out the juice, you don’t stop squeezing after one drop of juice comes out. There is a lot more juice! Dancing Bachata is like that. You want to squeeze as much out of every count before you go to the next count.
- Dance on Beat: Your partner will appreciate dancing on beat much more than any fancy dip or move you can do that feels awkward because you are offbeat. Here is a quick hack for dancing on beat in Bachata – which means you are dancing on the one. All music – rock, pop, metal, Salsa, Bachata etc. – is like a wave. It goes up and down like a wave breaking on the sand. Bachata music’s waves are very pronounced. To find the first beat or the one, listen for when the instruments or singer get louder or the singer has more zing and zest and energy on that climb. The waves become more and more predictable the more you listen. To practice, go to our website and click on the Bachata playlist (torontodancesalsa.ca/bachata-songs/). As you are cooking or cleaning, just start tapping with your fingers or toes and your body will naturally pick up the rhythm.
- Focus on your Partner: You are there to serve. I wish I was told this early on, but I had to learn through experience. You are dancing with someone so it is a relationship. The best relationships are the ones where you make the effort to lighten the load for your partner. Think about the best friendships you have. Your closest friends listen to you, understand you, are patient and giving. If both leaders and followers feel like they are there for their partners and not for themselves it becomes amazing. Smoothness comes naturally when we leave our worries, when we leave our insecurities when we abandon the mentality that we have to nail down this move in order to get approval from our partner. If we show up in a way that says “hey, I just want to bring joy and love and connection to my partner.” the smoothness just flows. Dance is one of the few places where through practice and hard work, you can get into a state of flow with another human being. Remember when you are dancing with someone, you are there to serve them. When you are lucky and your dance partner does the same for you, magic happens because you are putting more energy into something you are creating together. That is the epitome of smoothness.
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