The Real DomiBachata
Dominican way of dancing bachata
Dominican way of dancing bachata is a dance genre on it's own and not to be confused with the other bachata dance genres like BachaTango, FusionBachata and BachataUrbano. Bachata instructors around the world have been using the terminology "Dominican Style Bachata" (shortly DomiBachata) although most of them haven't ever been in Dominican Republic or even ever seen Dominicans dancing bachata. However there are some foreigners (non-Dominicans) who have already learned the Dominican way, but the majority of the foreigners dance Dominican Style Bachata in a way that is not compatible with Dominican way. This is the reason why Bachata Ambassador established the Facebook group The Real Dominican Style Bachata (The Real DomiBachata) to point out the problem. Later on when the point will be globally clear, the terminology will be simplified and the The Real DomiBachata will be replaced by DomiBachata and if necessary to be more precice "The Dominican way of dancing Bachata".
We recommend you to join the Facebook group The Real Dominican Style Bachata in order to learn more about The Dominican way of dancing bachata. There are a lot of bachata dance videos and part of them are filmed and uploaded by Dominicans. There is also active discussions and competitions with valuable prizes.
THE REAL DOMIBACHATA DEFINITION VERSION 1.0
The definition is under a constant improvement process and soon you'll see the version 2.0.
1. The Real DomiBachata is defined as "The way Dominicans dance Bachata in Dominican Republic"
2. The Real DomiBachata is not in conflict with other Bachata brands like BachaTango, FusionBachata, UrbanBachata or DomiBachata.
3. The Real DomiBachata honours the cultural heritage of Dominican Republic (DR), the Dominican people and everything related to Bachata in DR.
4. The Real DomiBachata has inspired hundreds of instructors in the world. As a result they have developed numerous extended styles of "Dominican Bachata". Most of them are titled as "Dominican Style Bachata" or shortly "DomiBachata". These styles should not be confused with The Real DomiBachata. Dominicans do not dance the foreigners' DomiBachata in DR.
5. Roughly speaking the foreigners' DomiBachata compared to The Real DomiBachata is an extended set in dance elements but a subset in the dance element styling.
6. Foreigners visiting DR cannot succesfully dance with Dominicans if they don't know the concept of The Real DomiBachata. Many Dominicans will stop dancing or they will become uncomfortable if foreigners will try to dance FusionBachata or foreigners' DomiBachata with them.
7. The Real DomiBachata draws admiration and "I want to learn that beautiful style" reactions from all around the world.
8. The Real DomiBachata activities (such as workshops, bachata events, etc.) have long term consequences. These activities will bring Bachata tourists to DR, Dominican youngsters will start to re-evaluate their own heritage by keeping Bachata alive, and The Real DomiBachata workshops will turn into a huge new dance business all over the world.
9. When developing and learning new styles of DomiBachata, it is good to understand where Domibachata originated. Therefore in my opinion it is an excellent foundation for any dancer.
10. Finally, we emphasize social dancing as having fun with a partner through music and dance.
Background and Levels
The majority of Dominicans don't know anything about the other Bachata styles in the world, and therefore they call The Real DomiBachata just "Bachata". Bachata was born over 50 years ago in the Dominican Republic. Very few countries in the world have had a nation wide dance culture. DR is an exception, they have been able to maintain their Bachata dance culture up to the modern days. Dominicans do not go to dance classes. In actuality, only a handfull of Bachata schools in the whole country exists. They learn their way of dancing from a dance oriented life style (as young as 1 year old, as I have seen). All the Dominicans dance differently. There are big variations between the cities and countryside, but they still have strict rules and independent of the styling differences they share a common set of dance elements. Otherwise they wouldn't be able to dance with each others.
Majority of the Dominicans that dance, dance only the (Dominican) Basic level Bachata. Part of the people reach Advanced level. The Dominicans dance for fun and only a few of them are professionals doing workshops, shows, cabaret or crazy-complicated dancing. Most of these professionals get their ideas from abroad. Therefore their point of view can be totally different from the social dancers point of view when it comes to Basic and Advanced level techniques. This definition deals only with the Basic and Advanced level social dancing.
The Real DomiBachata: Advanced level
The Advanced level is very simple to understand, but unfortunately extremely hard to learn. The Advanced level includes sidetapping, double steps (Dominicans call it DobleBrinca, doublejump), forward kicking, triple steps (Chachacha), random looking jumps, body balance leading and turnpatterns (not from Salsa).
Double stepping is so common that most social dancers have adopted it - adding flavour to the "downward tapping box". Amazingly chachacha-steps are regarded as a "high end" Advanced level skill. Chachacha steps, however, should not be done in a ballroom fashion. Instead, one should use short steps, erect upper body, tension hand leading, turns, and seamless bachata/chachacha steps. We call this Bachacha and it's 100% The Real DomiBachata in Advanced level.
"Forward kicking", "sidetapping" and "random looking double jumps" are just some examples of the footwork skills by Advanced dancers. The "Turnpatterns" rarely include hand knots or decorations, which are common in Salsa. Basic turns (vuelta) is done in a slow fashion. Advanced "vueltas", however, are more decorated and tend to be faster depending on the tempo of the music. Most of the fast turns are purposely performed when tourists happened to be filming. Frankly, it doesn't look professional since most of the social dancers aren't used to such technique.
Look at the videos to see the theory in practice
The Real DomiBachata Basic Level: Key concepts Suave, Ritmo and Vuelta.
Suave (soft) doesn't just mean soft dancing. When Dominicans say Baila Suave, it could mean "take it easy", "don't do anything fancy", "I don't want anyone to see us dancing like that", "I can only do basics", "I am not really interested in this dance" or "It's uncomfortable".
The only way to start dancing is to do a small size basic box (square) steps. If you can hold your horses for 1 minute, your partner might become relaxed and let you to dance the rest of the song. The Real DomiBachata is, in general, soft and relaxed. You have to forget the dips and tricks, turnpatterns, special stepping, force leading, pushing, pulling, squeezing or any other fancy/strong moves. Wide steps and using too big a space is the biggest mistake you can do. Someone might even shoot you dead (with revolver gun) for that reason. Besides, dance floors are extremely small in DR.
Ritmo (rhythm) doesn't just mean the rhythm of the music. When Dominicans tell "you being out of rhythm," it most propably means that you are doing wide steps which are usually done in modern bachata styles. Your musicality might be right, but your Dominican partner cannot recognize it or it could be reflected in a wrong way from your upper body. Foreigners dance Bachata On 1 as most of the Dominicans. However some Dominicans are used to dancing On 2, and some dancers don't even care on which foot they start to dance. The Dominican steps are not equal in duration (as ours) e.g., there is no delay between tap and the first step. Some Dominicans do a visible tap, but most of them let the tap seamlessly continue as a step 1.
There's only 1 vuelta in the Basic level DomiBachata. The slow vuelta starts from the woman going to the left direction "1, 2, 3, tap" and returning slowly back to "1, 2, 3, tap". Opposite to the DomiBachata, in FusionBachata the whole turn is done in the "1, 2, 3, tap".
Dominican couples dance in a romantic closed position. It might be even so subtle as only leaning on your partner, but most often, it also includes carefully selected extra small stepping, foreplay hips and romantic upper body close positions. Caution: Strangers, do not start with the closed position and most propably you will never end up in the closed position, because you will be stopped.
The concept of Waves in Bachata dancing mean flamboyancy in the movement (resemblence to boat floating). Step 1 up right shoulder, down, step 2 up left shoulder, down, step 3 up right shoulder, tap stays up right shoulder, down, 1 up left shoulder. Hands enhance the rhytm. Softly.
The Real DomiBachata style of dancing has approximately 20 dance elements. Add 10 or more, however, in the advanced level. "Foreigners' extended DomiBachata styles" have many times more than this and the FusionBachata even hundreds or thousands of extensions techniques. Obviously, only the top professionals can learn to do the hundreds of turn patterns perfectly, making it look so easy. Dominicans use their whole lives in learning only the 20 or 30 elements properly. This as a result makes their dance look soft, fluent, emotional and connected.
Less is more! A few elements with style is better than many elements that equals to clumsy dancing. ADVICE: Instead of adding elements to your dance, concentrate on styling and decorations. Learning to dance a bit more like the Dominicans is fairly easy, but being a master takes a long long time, depending on the student's ability to learn. Once the concepts, philosophy and applications are mastered however, Real DomiBachata students will automatically improve not only with one, but several styles, including BachaTango or FusionBachata.
Copyright by Bachata Ambassador Vesa, 2010
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