The original Bachata dance style comes from the Dominican Republic where the music also was born. The early slow style in the fifties from where everything started was danced only closed, like the Bolero. The Bachata Basic Steps moving within a small square (side, side, forward and side, side, back) are also inspired from the Bolero but danced slightly different in Bachata and danced with syncopations (steps in between the beats) depending on the dancer’s mood and the character of the music. The hand placement will vary with the dancers position which can be very close to semi-close to open.
The Original Dominican Bachata is today danced all over the Caribbean, now also faster in accordance to faster music, adding more footwork, turns/figures and rhythmic free style moves and with alternate between close (romantic) and open position (more playful adding footwork, turns/figures, rhythmic torso etc.). This style is danced with soft hip movements and a tap with a small “pop” with the hip on the 4th beat (1, 2, 3, Tab/Hip). Can be danced with or without bounce (moving the body down on the beats and up again in between the beats by springs the legs a little). Dominican Bachata is created by the people over many years (from around late fifties) for social dancing and is still evolving.
At some point, perhaps in the late 1980s or early 1990s, dancers/dance-schools in the Western World began using a simpler side to side pattern instead of the box-steps probably due to a misunderstanding of the original steps. The basic steps of this pattern move side to side, changing direction after every tap. Characteristics of this style are the close connection between partners, soft hip movements, and tap with a small “pop” of the hip on the 4th step (1, 2, 3, Tap/Hip). Most of the styling in this style is from Ballroom Dance and Dips are commonly used in this style. This is the first so-called Fusion Style Bachata because it’s not technical or stylistic danced semilar to the Original Bachata because it contains elements and styling from the western way of dancing.
A newer Fusion Style probably from around 2005. This style is widely considered to have originated in Spain, but as with all evolutions of dance style this itself is widely debated. The basics are the same as Traditional Style Bachata, but with added dance elements and styling from Salsa, Tango, Zouk-lambada, Ballroom etc. In the style, couples typically move their upper torsos more, put greater emphasis on the hip pop, and women use more exaggerated hip movements. The most direct fusion influence on modern style bachata dancing comes from the adoption of salsa turn patterns. There is also a even newer modern Urban Style that incorporates HipHop elements but this style basically also have the same technical base as Modern Style.
- Bachatango/Bachata Tango
Fusion Style from the West to with short sequences of Traditional basic steps but mostly Tango steps danced like Tango. The “pop” count is used to add elaborated sensuality and varied Latin dance styles but mostly taken from Tango. Vueltas like Traditional. Although this dance has been used to dance to Bachata, it has evolved to be used to dance to Tango as well. Even though BachaTango is unheard of in the Dominican Republic, Bachata’s country of origin, BachaTango has become popular with foreign instructors outside the Caribbean.
Bachata Sensual was made popular in Spain. Bachata Sensual is a mix between dance and theatre with strict follow and lead principles. The dance is an interpretation of the music with mostly circular movements and body waves, except when the music has stronger beats, when the dance uses isolations and dips.
- Ballroom Bachata
Fusion Style developed in the West to, for competition dance only, with very extreme hip movements and lots of Ballroom Dance styling. It is used predominantly for Ballroom competitions rather than social dancing. Basic step is based on Traditional.
- Other styles
There are “many other styles” of Bachata from the west, pioneered and promoted by different teachers around the world, each with its own distinct flair. Whether these are considered completely different styles or simply variations of the main styles above is often argued by teachers and students alike.