Bachata – How to Dance Smoother
When I was beginning to learn Bachata, I believed smoothness came from knowing more and being able to do fancy moves, dips and tricks. Boy, was I mistaken! It does not matter if you are a beginner or an advanced dancer, if you want your Bachata dancing to be smoother it comes from simply slowing down, staying on beat and focusing on your partner.
When you learn a new move, you want to try it in a nightclub or 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. Three steps and a tap in one direction. Then three steps and a tap in the other direction. The count is one, two, three, tap on four, five, six, seven, and tap on eight.
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. So smoothness in Bachata comes from slowing down.
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 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. 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, and are patient and giving. If both leaders and followers feel like they are there for their partners and not for themselves, the smoothness comes naturally.
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 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.
So whether you are a beginner or an advanced dancer, remember to slow down, dance on beat and serve your partner and you will be smooth as silk when dancing Bachata.
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