Bachata is a coined word born in the marginal urban of the Dominican Republic. The word evokes a certain sense of bitterness. In fact, the term used to refer to the genre was amargue, which connotes bitterness or bitter music. The bachata music, as influenced by rumba and son, has a 4/4 timing with 120 beats per minute. Its tempo is generally slow, the mood depending on the song. When accompanied by stringed-instruments like guitars, it usually sends out a melody of sadness. Other times, the music is gay. Heartbreaks and sadness are often the conveying themes of its subject, never missing a mix of romance.
Bachata dance is composed of steps basically having forward-backward or sideward movements. The footwork follows a pattern of three steps over four beats of music. Starting with the right foot, one does a chasse to the right on counts 1-2-3. The 4th count signals the touching of the left toe beside the right foot and then tapping the same in place apart from the right foot. This initiates the upward jerk of the hips, particularly the left. This timing is often called out as “one-two-three-touch…” or “one-two-three-lift…” or “one-two-three-bump…” Again, the same is executed but this time starting with the left foot going toward the opposite direction. The dance is most highlighted for its hip and body motions coupled with infrequent turns. With the absence of these hip and body movements, a dance cannot be qualified as bachata.
The couple can choose to perform the dance in either open or closed positions, whichever suits the setting and/or the partners’ mood. The male usually leads the female. He makes use of the push-and-pull technique to communicate with his lady partner and at the same time to drop hints on upcoming turns. The dance exhibits varying styles; among them are the Dominican style bachata, traditional style bachata, modern style bachata and bachata tango or preferable known as bachatango.
A typical bachata group consists of the instruments guitar (lead, rhythm, and electric bass), bongos and güira. Generally, musical groups of this kind work on an evolved style of bolero. Presently, Aventura is the best know bachata group based in New York City. Mark Guevara, Toby Love, Frank Reyes, Alex Valentyno and Prince Royce are among today’s modern bachata artists. Ramon Cordero, Leonardo Paniagua, Marino Perez, El Chaval and Luis Vargas, on the other hand, are among those who belong to the prestigious group of classic bachata artists. Edilio Paredes, a most respected classic bachata artist, is one of bachata’s founding fathers. He helped in its pioneering until the dance welcomed an influx of opportunities that shed light to what seemed an endless darkness of a bitter past.