Ambiori&Yonlenis dancing Bachata in Juan Dolio, DR. This is the way regular Dominicans dance authentic bachata in Santo Domingo. Look how relaxed and natural. Looks simple, but contains a lot of styling and decoration details. The structure used is simply a square and stationary, beautiful because less is more. The simplicity has brought award winning 500 000 visitors.
DR9 organizer Bachata Ambassador® Vesa explains
Authentic Bachata (=the way Dominicans dance bachata) is a dance genre of it's own and shouldn't be confused with international bachata (=the way non-dominicans dance e.g. Bachata Moderna, Fusion Bachata, Sensual Bachata, Urban Bachata or in general International Bachata). International dancers cannot necessarily dance with Dominicans, because the international bachata is not directly compatible with authentic bachata. The Dominican way has a different structure with preferred patterns and practices. The structural rules of authentic bachata are commonly known among Dominicans and therefore they dance well together. If authentic bachata would not have a structure and common practices Dominicans wouldn't be able to dance with each others.
Dominicans call it BACHATA
Internationally the word BACHATA means too many things and needs a qualifier to identify the exact dance genre. DR9 calls "the Dominican way to dance bachata" outside DR as Authentic Bachata, but in DR we call it Bachata and we rarely need to qualify it to be authentic (bachata auténtica). Dominicans are really surprised when they see DR9 international participants to dance like Dominicans and we constantly hear them saying "look look, they dance like Dominicans, just better". Some people call authentic bachata as traditional bachata, real bachata, Dominican Bachata or DR Bachata.
Rodolfo&Fanny: Look at the connection, leading and following.
Simple to get started
Authentic Bachata is simple to learn up to the level where you can successfully dance with Dominicans. Authentic Bachata full theory and philosophy is really complicated and just some people in the world do serious research on it. To become an advanced authentic dancer involves years of hard practice in DR. The Dominican instructors are priviledged because they have Bachata in their blood and they just need to learn the theories and logical teaching. There are very few international instructors who can teach authentic bachata structure, musicality and practices. Unfortunately there are huge amount of international instructors claiming to know how to teach authentic, but they teach the skills Dominicans don't do or they teach too limited or exaggerated set omitting the most important skills. You shouldn't espect international instructor to be able to teach authentic properly if he or she hasn't been in DR doing an extensive study on how Dominicans dance.
Pipo&Carolina: These people are driven by the music. Their advanced footwork and body language has a musical flow.
Authentic is Fun
Authentic Bachata is surrounded by debates and opinions. Instead of getting confused visit Dominican Republic, learn authentic and dance with Dominicans. Being able to dance successfully with Dominicans means you have self certified yourself being able to dance at least the basics of authentic. All the beginners and adventurers have easily learned to dance in previous DR festivals. DR9 instructors have hundreds of years experience in authentic bachata dancing, which means they have the highest possible knowledge to teach the advanced dancers and instructors around the world.
Dominicans know the structure
Wouldn't it be nice to see a formal, unambiguous and detailed definition of the Authentic Bachata (=the way Dominicans dance)? Imagine! If it would exist, how on earth the millions of Dominicans would have read, understood and learned to dance according to the formal definition paper? The exact definitions are meant for competition dances, not for the evolution based nationwide dances like authentic bachata. Although the written exact definition does not exit, Dominicans widely know the structure, elements, patterns and practices. Widely known is based on the fact that bachata is part of the Dominican everyday life and they must learn the rules (from the other Dominicans) in order to have bachata dance fun together.
Rodolfo&Yocasti: The chachacha stepping with a certain path and kneeing technic creates the natural body movements
Authentic structure, elements and styling
Authentic Bachata is an architecture (structure) with a limited set of elements, patterns and commonly used practices. The styling and decorating varies and therefore every Dominican looks like dancing differently. Dominicans maintain the common structure but vary the styling and decorations.
While International bachata has hundreds of elements, authentic has only 10-20 elements. Dominicans use all their life to learn the styling for the few elements. International dancers try to use hundreds of elements with awkward results. It looks like International dancers are trying to do too much without success, while Dominicans concentrate on feeling good and having smooth and elegant styling with a flow.
Rodolfo&Yanervis: Authentic Bachata hasn't changed much in 90's, 00's and 10's. Here is Rodolfo 2007
You will easily learn the basics of Authentic Bachata. First you have to learn the most important elements, some leading&following rules, connection, musicality and unlearn the disturbing elements of the other dance genres. The advanced level involves months or years to create your own smooth and elegant style which is compatible with Dominicans.
Dominicans dance authentic bachata as a social dance in colmadon, car-wash, sports bar, cabaret, club, restaurant, discoteca, home and everywhere in Dominican Republic. Competitions and exaggerated choregraphy are not part of their social dance parties. Exceptions apply, but the main stream is social dancing, having fun, feeling good, pleasing your partner and searching for a partner. Nearly all of the International bachata parties are organized by dance schools and the audience is dance school students. Dominican parties have nothing to do with dance schools and party people have newer taken any kind of dance lessons. It's mindblowing to see the natural authentic dancing in Dominican Republic.
Vesa in a remote village Guerra, DR. It took over 10 years to create the extensive theories of Authentic Bachata.
The common mistakes
• You are not supposed to bring salsa, kizomba or other dance genre elements to bachata
• Authentic bachata is a social dance. Using the small dance floor as a presentation stage for an advanced choreographies is against the cultural expectations (exceptions apply)
• Competing in a serious or aggressive manner is against the cultural expectations, but you can show your skills e.g. in a Colmadon in a humorous manner
• Use small steps, the long ones are regarded offensive, brutal and ugly
• Dance relaxed, too rigid position and too much power distroys your authentic bachata
• Search the flow and soft patterns. Forget your international routines, try to copy the Dominican flow and gestions.
• Concentrate on things you do well, don't do the complicated patterns you don't yet master. Enjoy of what you do
• Dance on music. Make an extensive study on the musicality of authentic bachata.
You'll learn quickly in Dominican Republic
The fastest way to learn Authentic Bachata is to participate DR9 festival. DR9 Santo Domingo 4 days has 20 workshop hours which is more than enough to learn the Authentic Bachata to dance with Dominicans. DR9 has tons of parties in the local clubs to dance with Dominicans. When you finally have chance to get to DR, dance with Dominicans and look carefully how they dance. I'm pretty sure that they don't dance as you expected. Dominicans don't do exaggerated footwork, they dance smoothly with small steps...it's mind-blowing to see the natural authentic bachata dancing.
Why you should learn Authentic?
The dancers who visit DR report without exception "It feels good to dance with Dominicans". In DR9 Bachata Festival everyone learns to dance like a Dominican and people keep saying all over the world "It feels good to dance with the people who can dance Authentic Bachata".
Instructors have responsibilities
Too many instructors claim to teach Dominican style but their teaching has nothing to do or very little to do with authentic bachata (=the way Dominicans dance bachata). Dance instructors have legal responsibilities because they charge the client. Truly professionals don't hesitate to specify the dance genre they teach. Ask from your instructor if he or she has learned the authentic bachata in Dominican Republic or how do they justify and specify their expertise.
Luis&Fefita: On the left basic square. On the right highly advanced authentic bachata.
Dancers just have fun
While the instructors have legal responsibilities the dancers are free to dance as they wish. DR9 doesn't limit you to Authentic Bachata. You can mix it with international bachata if you wish, bu we recommend to do the mix outside DR. We (the authentic bachata instructors) like Salsa, Kizomba, Tango and all the dance genres but in DR we prefer to dance merengue, tipico, mambo, palo, dembow, bachata, salsa and son with Dominicans because these are the genres the local Clubs play. Fortunately the whole Dominican dance culture helps us to be stricktly in the Dominican track.
Rodolfo&Helen: mastering the good connection
You'll get the best of your life experiences with authentic bachata just in DR. Back home in your own country you have to teach your friends to dance authentic also. We fully understand that the authentic way isn't that common yet. The skill to dance authentic will make your international bachata better. You can combine authentic and international as long as you can do it succesfully with your friends. Authentic looks great in presentations, although the show opportunities are outside DR.
Learning from Facebook and Youtube
Elearning sounds easy and the net is full of bachata videos. Unfortunately most of the videos represent international bachata and it's tricky to know which ones have been filmed in DR and including Dominican dancers and clean Authentic Bachata. All the videos in this page have been filmed by Bachata Ambassador® Vesa in Dominican Republic. You'll see most of these Dominican dancers in DR9 festival. Some Facebook groups have good collections of authentic, but some groups confuse accepting just peculiar or highly talented specialities.
Yeri&Yocasti: Super talented Yeri showing his peculiar way to dance bachata. Yeri has over 2 million YouTube visitors.
By definition Authentic Bachata (the way Dominicans dance) includes regular, talented, peculiar and also bad dancers. All categories are important and in DR you'll see all kind of dancers.
The key features of Authentic Bachata
Authentic Bachata is a long story to be learned in DR9 Let's study now just the basic steps, patterns, rhythm, tapping, posture, leading&following, styling, decoration and musicality.
The international left-right-left line stepping 1-2-3-TAP is strongly discouraged although Dominicans might do it in some special occations. The most important element is square (=box) and you'll see Dominicans doing it all the time. You might even dance the whole song with a square.
The stepping rhythm is marked by tap. Dominicans do tapping, but they frequently mark with double-step and advanced dancers with triple step (either chachacha or syncopated). Simple tap feels soft, double acccented and triple advanced special dancing. Choose the marking according to the music and partner skills. Dominicans prefer Bachata On2, which means tapping on the first beat. Many Dominicans will get confused if you dance On1, which means first step on the first beat.
The posture should be upright with constant distance between the dancers chests. Strong leading with both hands in a connected position is preferred. It makes leading easy and accurate. Maintain at least one hand connected.
Dance relaxed. Avoid forced hip or shoulder movements. The body movemets come naturally if you do the correct stepping path, body rotation and kneel down routines. Your path is not correct if you have to do forced hip and shoulder movements. Search for the flow that looks like swing and sway.
Carlito&Andina: Footwork enhanced square, look at the connection leading and following
Listen, learn and practice
Listen to bachata as much as you can in order to hear the rhythm and the changes in the music. Try to understand the mood, meaning and message of the music. Learn extended musicality to become an advanced dancer: Practice to hear the instruments (bongo, guira, guitar, bass and singer), identify the music part changes, translate the lyrics and learn the cultural rules.
Yonathan&Virginia: The fancy triple step style
DR9 Big Picture and Details of Authentic
Bachata Ambassador Vesa and Yocasti have created an extensive 2 hours "An Introduction to Authentic Bachata" and 1 hour "Fundamentals" workshop. It's a must for beginners and instructors and helps to absorb the 20 hours of details.
Vesa&Yocasti have created an extensive introduction to Authentic Bachata
Bachata dancing changes also in DR. The dancing is driven by the music and when the music changes dramatically, people slowly change their style also in DR. In addition to music, the changes in everyday life and economy has big influence on how Dominicans dace. Here is a sample done by Rodolfo&Yocasti of the different bachata styles in 70's, 80's, 90's and 00's.