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What makes Bachata Muy Caliente? (Part 2 - Male Perspective)

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 24, 2010 2:52 pm    Post subject: What makes Bachata Muy Caliente? (Part 2 - Male Perspective) Reply with quote

Earlier in the week I polled some of the women on what differentiates a technical bachata dance from a muy caliente one for part 1. Well guess what, here is part 2 - the male perspective! I polled various people in the salsa community to try and get a balanced perspective on this topic, to give you a broader perspective. Not only are these guys great bachata dancers (read as: muy caliente/sensual), they each have something to contribute in terms of what makes a bachata dance muy caliente!

Male Perspective

Lucky Sipin of 2Stylle has the following to say:

"My answer is not only for Bachata but for Club partner dancing in General. A good dancer is someone that enjoys the music and is able to make their partner enjoy the music with them. Technique is one Thing but Movement is Key. My motto, enjoy the art of movement. For any lead. Everytime at the end of the song their partner smiles and tells you they enjoy the dance... that means you did your role. I can go on and on about this... but that's a different blog =) .
My only pet peeve with people (and sorry to say this but I can't call them dancers yet....) is that they are too worried with the technique or the turn pattern that is taught rather than appreciating the music that is played for them."

Efren Castillo of Steps Dance Studio elaborates with:

I think, just like with any other partner dance, a "muy caliente" bachata requires two things: chemistry and a feeling for the music.
Pitifully chemistry is either there or it's not, and to a certain degree can't be invoked or planned. It's there during that song, during that moment, with that partner, or it's not.
To me, the "feeling" of the music is being able to move your body according to the music. As dancers I think we are doing nothing, but interpreting the music we hear, with our bodies. It is indeed a shame not to respect those beats that make us move.

Great feedback from Lucky and Efren. I sometimes think we lose appreciation for the music and really itís there for us to play with. Playfulness through interpretation of the musical accents allow for individual expression of sensuality. It is also fun to do something a little unexpected like a body wave or hip role and get a smile or a grin of appreciation from your partner.

Daniel W.

"Like any relationship, there has to be a connection before a chemistry can be established prior to the fire-making. It cannot be rehearsed or forced. Bachata is particular and very personal that way to me. It's so not about the fancy turn-patterns and exaggerated movements. It's about Connection, Chemistry and then Call & Respond to produce the Caliente flame you speak of. Frank Bishun at Alleycatz jokingly made this distinction between salsa, merengue and bachata based of hands (width) apart a couple is when dancing.
 Salsa (two hand widths apart)
 Merengue (one hand width apart)
 Bachata (no space apart)

It's very personal since it deals with person space or in the case of bachata it's working with lack of personal space. As for sexy that comes at step 2 where a great bachatera can respond to any movement the bachetero makes. Since there is no space between they have to dance as one. If they are not dancing as one and is instead conflicting that's not very sexy. If the lead is the trunk that sways then the follow should be like the branches that sway in rhythm to the trunk. Not at the exact same time or it looks rehearsed or in anticipation but at an almost imperceptible lag. And when this is achieved resonance starts and at the end of the dance you will climax and feel almost breathless. It will be euphoric and you don't want it to stop but you just might not want to dance again too soon because you feel the magic moment has come and gone for now. And to try to recapture regardless would only dilute the overall incredible experience."

Sensuality and call & response - Daniel has a way with words and dance moves Wink As this is an intimate dance, it is comprised of action and reaction between lead and follow. The art is in making it look effortless and yet still maintain the sensuality through connection.

Sawai Jimmy from the Bachata Club has the following to say:

From the musicality stand point, the Bachata is generally slower. This slower rhythm leaves you a lot of room to be creative and play with the music. i.e. touch your partner's hair, explore sensuality. Given the fact that there's always duets happening with the main musical instruments, the guitar sound usually dominates the scene and makes you want to rock, back and fro.

the Bachata dance is very simple. This also has to do with the music beats being slow. Anyone can step to the dance after a brief instruction. The simpler dance opens up the possibility to much wider audience. The barrier to entry is minimal, a couple can generally enjoy the dance much sooner.

Lastly, my studies of Spanish is paying off a little bit here. From the lyric's stand point, most, if not all, Bachata songs are about falling in love or falling out of love. I haven't heard a song that's not about the topic of love, otherwise. In Salsa songs and other popular Latino songs, we usually hear about i.e. living the hard knock life, patriotic songs about missing home countries, enjoying dancing salsa, and so on. In addition, Bachata songs do not degrade women in any way by associating offensive names to women. This lyric combines with crooner's sexy voice... definitely makes anyone want to dance and feel each other up on the dance floor. HA!

To give you some examples, the lyrics such as,

"Your eyes, every morning, is where I lose my confusion.""Give me your love, it is my necessity, I only want to be with you, walking on the roads of love.""Your tears is a wet expression which could not hide the feeling that you love me.""It's terrible, and it is killing me, to know that you are alive but you are so far away from my hands"

In conclusion, the Bachata songs and dances are muy caliente.

Wanna dance?

Um, would you blame me and all the women that possibly read this for saying yes? Wink Sawai Jimmy has high-lighted that the music is there for us to play with, something that Lucky also mentioned. Some ways that you can play with the musical accents include hip rolls, body waves, exaggerated body combs, use of ganchos (leg hooks) e.t.c.) in the way you dance can add some flare to your partner dancing. Also, don't forget to make eye-contact Wink

Junyan Boon (Zouk instructor, Go Dance Mambo) had the following to add as a comment:

You'll notice that dances that are very hot have an extremely polarized connection. Meaning, the woman absolutely lets go, while the man provides the space for this to occur.

The other reason why bachata is damn caliente is because of the freedom of the upper body. This allows for two dimensions of connection! Lady's can attest to their enjoyment of a man that knows how to lead their upper body. a rare lead indeed.

Zouk, bachata, tango - these three represent polarized connections, while the former two represent the upper body connection.

Another contributor (Anonymous) had the following to say:

"... A good Bachata dancer, in my opinion, is a women who wants to dance and follow the lead. She feels the music, feeling me, and is trying to build a connection with the music and with me. One without the other just doesn't work. She needs to feel the rhythm and the music on her own and not have me lead the basic beat. I find it distracting if i have to lead the basic beat.

This is going to sound weird for a guy to say, but I don't like dancing with women who want to "grind" or "rub" or think this makes Bachata sexy. Especially before the connection takes place between us and the music; Without these connections itís just a "mechanical" experience. Another danger when the women think grinding is sexy is that I keep getting a knee in the groin - a knee to the groin isn't pleasant - kneeing a man in the groin is just kneeing a man in the groin.

I've danced with some women where we never grinded or rubbed and these were the most passionate dances Iíve ever had in anything and I still think of those dances. I found that I had the following experiences that made a good Bachata dance: connection, intimacy, passion, risk, anticipation, tension, sensitivity, attraction, magnetism, and playfulness... "

Connection - this is a common theme in terms of the Women's perspective and Males. I think the connection is an important one when dancing Bachata and elevates a dance from "just going through the motions" to "something special" or "muy caliente" instead.

With regards to grinding, before the connection occurs, I agree. I think it should only be done if both partners know each other and feel that connection. For example if I danced with someone new at one of the salsa venues and the guy wanted to grind right off in a bachata dance, I do not think I would feel very comfortable - cause I don't know em' and that connection is not there yet. Also wanted to say that grinding or leg to leg movement to me is done as more of a build up from regular non-intimate bachata movement. Maybe thatís just me? (If you disagree post some feedback).

To summarize, the following is what makes a bachata dance muy caliente from the Male perspective:

1.Appreciation and use of the music provided (accents, use of body)
2.Playfulness in body movement (isolations, hip rolls, ganchos etc)
3.Being on time and able to respond to your partners action (call and response)

I have to say that I certainly gained some insight from asking the guys for feedback and hope those that read this can appreciate their frank honesty and thoughtfulness they put into their responses.

Agree, disagree with the content of this post? Post a reply and provide your own feedback.
The truest expression of a people is in its dance and in its music. Bodies never lie. ~Agnes de Mille
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