BACHATA, HOW TO LEAD?
Whether you are just starting to dance Bachata or looking to learn and want some quick hacks on leading in Bachata I want to share four tips to be a great Bachata leader.
First tip: Leaders always step with their left foot.
Most Latin dances, including Salsa, Kizomba, Zouk and Merengue leader always start with the left foot. So after placing your feet together, you’d move outwards with your left foot to a side shuffle. Then, bring your right foot in, followed by another souffle with the left foot and a tap with the toes of your right foot on the fourth count. Then the foot used to tap goes back to the right on five, another sept on six and seven, and tap on eight with your left foot.
The same thing applies if you want to dance forth and back. As a leader, you’re always going to lead with your left foot forward first. So go forward in one, then bring your feet on two and so forth.
Second tip: Basic turns.
An essential turn in Bachata is the “Inside” turn. When leading, you will turn on five – six – seven. Before turning, you have to signal the move to your partner by doing what is known as a “C-PREP.”
To practice this move, I want you to stand still and, with your left hand, imagine you are drawing the letter capital C letter in the air from the bottom up. So your hand goes down outwards to the curve of the C and back inside. To add counts to your practice, bring your hand down, and on one, start tracing the letter C. You will slightly bring it out on two, and when you’re almost at the top, your count should be three. On four, when you tap, you are fingertip to fingertip with your partner’s hand slightly above their head. Now that you have the moves and the counting clear, you add the steps. First, step out, on one, start to draw the C. Come out in two, begin to bring it up. On three, you are at the top of your letter C. On four, when you tap your left hand is fingertip to fingertip, at which point you are five. You go back home at six, seven and eight, and you do an inside stir.
Third tip: Making smooth turns.
A smooth turn will make your partner perceive you as an experienced dancer. A beautiful way to imagine a turn is stirring them as you draw an angel’s halo around your partner’s head.
Most beginners and intermediate dancers start the turn, keep stirring, and raise their hands, pulling the follower’s hand simultaneously. A fun way to describe this common mistake is to imagine serving ice cream in a cone where you start at the base and then swirl it up. On the contrary, the way to think about it is as a single scoop of ice cream, Basking Robin’s style.
So in two, three, four, when you stir, you bring up the hand close to your partner’s face, just past their left ear. That would be a prep on one, two, three, four, and inside. Then, turn with the left hand for the leader, right hand for the follower on five, six, seven, eight, really close. Again, smooth motion makes it easier for followers to turn versus a wide stir that makes the turn harder.
Fourth tip: Dancing on beat.
As a leader, you will need to dance on beat. Except for New York-style, because it’s danced on two, in Bachata and Salsa, you will start dancing on one. To recognize the initial beat that signals when you need to start dancing, start listening to Bachata music more and more. This tip will help you a lot as there is always a flow where the music rises is the key to start dancing.
So often, when the instrument comes in louder, or the singer comes in with a little more energy, that’s the one count and indicates when you need to move with your left foot. But, of course, this takes more practice and attention to the music; therefore, we cover this topic quite a bit in classes.
If you want to train your ear, visit our website, there’s a Bachata playlist you can play in the background while cooking, working or relaxing. Let your mind start to pick up the pattern, absorb that Latin energy, and imagine that you’re on a beach. No rushing, just feeling great.
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