Below are three excellent tips that instructors know but don’t share in classes, mainly because part of the experience is having fun when you take up a bachata class. Although the tips I’m about to share are essential, they involve a big grind, but the payoff is incredible, just like diging deep for gold or diamonds.
First Tip: Dance like a T-Rex.
One of the things that I wish my instructors stress with me is to be unhinged in my legs as I dance. And the easiest way to think about it is this way: If with your body standing straight, your height is 5.7 inches. (1,44 cm.) I want you to bend your knees two inches below to go to 5.5 inches, whereby you are in a soft seated position. Now, you must slide your bum back.
So, that’s why I call the t-rex imagining that you are leaning your bum and resting on a tall bar stool.
This position is so important that I would like to illustrate it further. Think about skating. When skating, you want your center of gravity down; you don’t want it up to avoid losing balance. Likewise, you need to keep your center of gravity down when you dance. Often, If you feel that when you’re dancing, you’re losing balance, or when you’re doing turns, you’re off balance, it’s because you’re dancing on your toes. You’re leaning in with your legs locked.
When you’re dancing bachata, pressure should never be on your knees. Instead, you should feel the strain on your quads and your calves. And this can only happen if you are sitting, bum back, and two inches below your height.
Second Tip: Focus on improving your basic turns.
One piece of advice my instructor gave me that I did not pay attention to, and I wish I did because It would have made my life easier: doing a turn as a quarter, quarter, half, then tap.
If you are dancing on leader’s timing, whether you are doing a turn to the left or the right, your left foot goes out, and you step 1, 2, 3, TAP, 4, and now you’re about to go with your right foot, and you’re about to do a turn to your right on your 5. So that five needs to be a deeper twist, so it is a full quarter turn.
If you look at any great dancer, they’re doing their turns almost surgical, and it’s super clean, and they don’t look like they are rushing. So how can you do it too?
By doing a full quarter turn and then another quarter and then half, you will, on the 7th., with a clean tap on the 8th., exit fully facing your partner or the wall or the mirror if you’re practicing on your own.
Remember, after your 7th. step, a clean TAP on 8 is super important. So often, dancers fall behind at the beginning. Before realizing my mistake, I would step out into my turn and then start to turn and always rush at the end.
Third Tip: Twist with your torso first before your foot moves.
With your closed eyes, imagine talking to a friend and someone tapping you on the shoulder; what would turn first? Your foot, your head, or your torso? It would always be your head, followed immediately by your torso, and then your foot comes around. And that’s actually how turns in bachata should work!.
So the biggest mistake I made and had to work hard on is when I would do turns, I would step out with my foot, and my body would follow through, but that doesn’t make sense. When you turn, you should be turning with your core.
Bonus: Technique to make better turns
Let’s practice the following exercise to make better turns.
Position yourself facing a mirror, a wall or your dance partner. If you are a leader, use your left foot to step out to the left on one. If you are a follower, use your right foot while you’re stepping out to your right on one.
Place your hand on your belly button. As a leader, use your left hand on your belly button, or for followers, use the right hand on your belly button and as you twist direction, twist first with your belly and let your feet follow through.
Learning that it’s more of a twist with your core versus a step with your foot significantly Improves the speed and the quality of your turns.
Here I’ve described Modern Bachata style, the type of bachata you see at nightclubs. During our classes, you will also have the opportunity to experience Dominican Bachata.
If salsa is fast-paced and energetic, bachata is usually soft and mellow, easier to follow, and with three steps and a tap and some practice, you will soon be flowing with your dance partners through the dance floor.
I love sharing the gift of bachata with my students and new family members. I can share so much more!, so please email or message on Instagram if you find value in this article.
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