“BACHATA DANCERS LEARN HOW TO ISOLATE DIFFERENT PARTS OF THEIR BODIES TO PRODUCE A SENSUAL DANCE.”
Bachata is a dance from the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean islands, with roots in rural and urban poverty. Both the music and the dance have been influenced by Cuban bolero, son, guaracha and guajira; Puerto Rican plena and jibaro; Colombian-Ecuadorean vals campesino and pasillo; as well as Dominican merengue. As successive generations play the music they have sped up its rhythm and bachata has evolved from a singalong form of music to a danceable genre more visible in clubs.
Bachata music has four beats per measure. Dancers take three steps to four beats of music. Like salsa, the step timing is three steps and then a one-beat pause. The knees are flexed on the steps. The steps are flat-footed. The chasse basic is three steps in one direction (side-close-side-tap or touch) and the same pattern in the other direction. Nightclub dancers add a lift or hip motion on the tap/touch step. The walking basic is forward and back.
The lyrical and instrumental styles of bachata belie its roots in rural and urban poverty. As a genre it incorporates a wide range of musical styles – from the rhythmically slower, acoustic guitar-based Cuban bolero to faster rhythms featuring electric guitars and other technological elements referred to as techno-bachata. While Luis Segura is widely acclaimed as “The father of Bachata”, José Manuel Calderón is credited with recording the first bachata songs in 1962, in the studios of Radiotelevisión Dominicana (Borracho de amor and Condena). In 1990, Juan Luis Guerra, a hugely popular merengue star, decided to explore bachata on his album Bachata Rosa. His international fame lent an air of respectability to the genre thus allowing other successive bachata performers to enter the mianstream Dominican and international Spanish language music markets.