“Even though Bachata has been around for over 100 years in the Caribbean, it is a relatively new dance to the rest of the world.”

There are many different styles of Bachata and it’s a style of dance that makes you feel like you are on a beach with great friends on vacation.

Dominican Bachata

This is the original style of Bachata. The basic step moves within a small dance space (a square) with syncopated steps to express the music (guitarra). Embraces in Dominican style bachata vary greatly from Cuban style open hand hold to a very tight closed embrace, depending on the dancers mood, familiarity with their partner, and nature of the song they are dancing to.

Distinguishing characteristics of Dominican style is footwork – playful syncopated steps – and strong hip movements on all counts (not just on the 4th or tap step). Dominican style, that we know today, is the style that experienced Bachata dancers will use for the faster, more “punchier” Bachata music. Strong percussive beats and guitarra lines lend themselves to the strong, syncopated style of Dominican footwork.

Western Traditional (developed in 1990’s)

When Bachata started to gain popularity beyond the borders of the Dominican Republic in the 1990’s, the only place that non-Latinos would get exposure to the dance and music would be through a ballroom or salsa school.

Instructors at these schools began to simplify the dance in order to make it more accessible to their students – the basic was changed to more straightforward 3 step side-to-side or forward-and-back basic with a tap step on the 4th beat. The tap step is accompanied with a hip “pop” or check and the direction of the side-to-side or forward-and-back step changes after the tap.

Distinguishing characteristics of the Western Traditional style of Bachata is a very simple side-to-side basic (1-2-3-tap/hip) and soft hip movements at all times. Turn patterns are minimal but dips are common.

Modern/Moderna style (2005)

This fusion style has its foundations in the Western Traditional Style of Bachata, but with added dance elements and styling from Salsa, Tango, Zouk-lambada, and Ballroom. Moderna style Bachata figures emphasize the use of “the slot” (like in Salsa) but also incorporate circular figures that allow couples to travel and use more dance floor space. This style puts a larger emphasis on upper body (ribcage) movement on counts 1-2-3, while keeping the signature “hip pop” on count 4.

Distinguishing characterics of Moderna style Bachata are the use of many turn patterns (similar to salsa turn patterns). There is much more body movements, isolations and arm styling for ladies, which is not common in the Dominican or Western Traditional styles of Bachata.

Other styles (2005 and beyond):

Even though Bachata has been around for over 100 years in the Caribbean, it is a relatively new dance to the rest of the world. As such, Bachata is still in its infancy and new fusion styles are continually being created – influences of other partner type dances (even including non-Latin dances like West Coast Swing) is evolving the dance well beyond the basics of the original Dominican style. In this way, it can be argued that Bachata is a true dance “of the people” – reflecting the distinct flair and style of a region and being shared across the world, creating a wonderful diversity in the dance, while still keeping it universally accessible to all dancers.

New fusion styles that have been developed in the last 10 years include:

Urban Bachata: Hip Hop influenced

Bachatango/Bachata Tango: Argentine Tango influenced

Touch style: a very sensual fusion of Moderna and Dominican styles

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