Joined: 02 Jun 2010
|Posted: Mon Sep 20, 2010 2:19 pm Post subject: What makes Bachata Muy Caliente (Part 1-Female perspective)
|Written by: Nadini Doodnauth
Ah, Bachata a dance of sensuality, mystery, romance and connection – you move me to be moved and in turn I am moved. Lol indeed I do wax poetic, but I can't really help it, bachata is one of those dances that engage a person on a personal level. When I dance bachata, if I am with a really good dancer and feel the connection, everything else fades out and is white noise (present state) - there is just me and the lead enjoying the music and the moment.
A friend once described bachata to me as a poetry in motion...I disagree I think is connection in motion – simply put action and reaction between lead and follow.
Over the last few weekends at various socials, I took the time to watch other couples dancing Bachata and began to question, what differentiates a good bachata from a caliente one? To be clearer – what differentiates a person going through the technically correct dance steps from someone whom is clearly feeling the music? To answer these questions, I approached various people in the Toronto Salsa Community to get the male and female perspective. Part one of this post deals with the female perspective:
Jennifer Aucoin of Steps Dance Studio has the following to say of male leads:
|“I would say that what makes a bachata dancer unique and sensual is that he makes her feel like there is no one else in the room - he takes care of her on the dance floor so she doesn't have to worry about being stepped on or knocked into, he is completely engaged in the song and in the dance with her (i.e. not looking around to see who is watching), he is dancing 'with' her not for her, that he holds her securely yet sensually and moves with her body. In the end however, a really sensuous dance takes two - the couple has to have chemistry together (at least on the dance floor!) and both be in the moment.” |
So very true - the connection factor and the focus on the individual makes this dance much more intimate than many others.
Salsa Steph (Stephanie Gurnon) of Go Dance Mambo has the following to say of what makes particular Bachata dancers sexy:
|“For me, the hot ticket is:
1.Man is in control, meaning he knows where the lady's body and weight need to be
2.He doesn't take himself too seriously
3.He connects first and foremost with the music (i am secondary to the music)
4.He is comfortable with his sensuality and expression
5.His frame is amazing
6.It helps if he smells clean
If he is too serious, or too technical it means he isn't connecting w the music, so it's boring to me. I don't care if he repeats 3 moves, but if he feels them and does the above, he is hot to me.”
Sage advice for many of those that have the basic skills in terms of dancing bachata. Complex turn-patterns in this type of dancing while nice are secondary to form and musicality.
|“I always maintain that what makes bachata a beautiful dance is the wavelike motion of it and in it. if the lead understands it's not about "grinding" (as everyone likes to say who doesn't understand) but that it's really about keeping the beautiful wavelike motion moving fluidly, in whatever direction, whether you use your upper body more, which I prefer for the side to side movements, or body waves in subtle ways, that's really the key to it. Being inside that wave motion usually means you're dancing inside the music. beyond that it's how much you play together with the syncopated rhythms in the music on a subtle level between you, whether Dominican style foot moves or little back and forth hip moves like Lucky likes to do, or upper body rhythm changes, it's all good. Beyond all those, spin me twice at least once during a bachata and you're golden! ;0)” |
Isolation, isolation, isolation (3 times fast ). Body movement or contra-body-movement in time to your partner and the music is beautiful. I have often as a spectator (yes, I do often like to look at others dancing too, to see what differentiates others dance styles!) noted the beauty in others dancing style from subtle changes in body movement.
|“Bachata is my favorite dance, so for me, a really good bachata dance can make me smile for days after. For me, a good bachata partner makes the world a difference. It's a chemistry thing, which is hard to describe especially since someone who I click really well with may not click the same way with someone else. The best way I can describe a good partner is someone who hears the music the same way I do. Funny thing about music, we can all be listening to the same song and hear it totally different (where the accents are, which part to slow down, which part is playful, etc.). As a follower, when it comes to hitting accents, pausing, going faster or slower, etc. totally depends on the leader. Someone who hears the music the same way I do slow down at the same parts where I feel is sensual, or accentuates the accents the way I would if I were dancing by myself... A lot of new dancers are so wrapped up in remembering turn patterns and trying out new moves that they totally ignore the music they are dancing to, which is such a shame cuz it is most fun when the dance and the music go together. I've had dances where we did basic steps the entire song, but it was to the music, and sensual, and it was 100x better than doing crazy turn patterns that didn't fit the music.
I think a good dance is a mix between playfulness, flirtiness, and sexiness. A good dance can sometimes make you feel like you were seduced and you are powerless to how sexy he makes you feel. Sometimes you walk away with just a small taste and feeling teased and keeps you going back for more. Either way, a good partner should make you feel 100% comfortable and safe. Bachata is one of those dances where you are really in each other's space and the really sexy ones, you're basically leg between leg, groin to groin (haha for lack of better analogy). The best dancers are the ones who can gage your comfort level and still be sexy with you without crossing your comfort zone. I would dance bachata with people I don't know well, but I'm only comfortable to really get down and dirty with guys I know well and I am very comfortable with. Some guys will get down and dirty with any girl regardless if they know them or not, I personally find that a little repulsive, because to me, it's more about being hit on and less about the dance.”
Katie hit a couple different themes here: Musicality and gauging comfort level of your partner. Musicality has been mentioned before, but I think it’s important enough to stress - if a person is not in sync with the music, it makes it harder to enjoy dancing. Alas, do not despair, my advice on this is to listen to the music, listen for the notes that demark the 1234, 5678 and try to sync up. What really helped me with my musicality was listening to more Bachata (well salsa music in general) to pick out the key notes or beats that demark the start of a phase. I am sure there is a whole post that could be written on just this.
The second part regarding comfort level is quite important...if you as the lead have not danced with a person before, take it easy and ease into dancing bachata, I would likely stay away from the more intimate moves (i.e. leg to leg position) if I had not danced with that individual before. That said, play it by ear, if you have danced with that person before and you gage they are comfortable with you, go for it. Beware if the person stiffens up their frame, this may be an indication that they are altogether uncomfortable and likely should be used as a signal to change position/hold.
All in all great feedback from various sources. I hope that this gives members of the opposite sex some insight into the female perspective on muy caliente bachata dancing.
Next week is the male’s perspective on what makes a bachata dance a Muy Caliente one.
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The truest expression of a people is in its dance and in its music. Bodies never lie. ~Agnes de Mille