The origins of bachata dance can be traced to the music of the same name. The bachata music originated in the 1960s as a slow, romantic guitar music. Very different from the dancing music that can be played on guitar, the music evolved into one with accelerated rhythm, perfect to add some dance steps to the romantic and lively music that it created. Thus, this dance form was born.
Though it originated in the Dominican Republic, like other Latin dances, it soon became popular in the US and Europe and since then, those who have witnessed the grace of this dance have been eager to know how to dance bachata.
Bachata dancing is not about mastering the dance steps. It's about swaying with the music and enjoying the various moves. Now that you know that bachata dancing originated in Dominican Republic, you might want to learn the dance a la Dominican style. But when it is about this particular dancing style, you have choices as there are different forms of this dance. Other than the Dominican style, there are traditional styles (most common style, developed in Europe and USA), the modern style and the bachata tango.
It is an 8 step dance like salsa dancing in which partners can dance either in a closed position or open position depending upon the mood. Open position refers to the position in partner dancing when the partners are in contact with each other only with their hands. In close position, they are in close physical contact in which they use body contact or body support. There are few turns in this dance form and dips are a relatively recent addition. In this dance, the male leads the female with subtle hints 'pull and push' that he communicates with his hands. This, he does by communicating the moves with his left hand to the right hand of his female dancing partner and his right hand that he places right below or on the shoulder blade of the left side of his partner. Now that we know a little about bachata dance, it's time to go ahead with the steps.
The partners should stand in front of each other with the male lead holding the female dancers right hand in his left with her left hand over his shoulder. He should hold his partner within the circle of his right arm and place his right hand under/on her left shoulder blade. (The way the partners hold each other might vary from the position explained in this step).
Listen to the music and start counting the beats. Fold your knees a little bit and at first beat, step to left. At the next beat, that is beat 2, bring your right foot next to the left one. Remember that you are supposed to lift your leg high in the air and stamp it on the ground. Keep your right foot close to the ground. Just lift it a little and with a smooth motion bring it close to the left foot.
Take another small step to the left at the third beat. At the fourth beat, raise your right foot off the ground slightly. Now as you do this step at the fourth beat, you are required to pop your right hip a little bit. I suggest you lift your right hip a little higher with a slight but smooth jerk. This hip motion is the main aspect of bachata dancing. As you get better with it, try to add some sway to the simple lift and jerk (slight one) that you do with your lift.
At the next beat, put your feet back on the ground and repeat the steps that you started with. For example, you drop your right foot on beat 5. Bring your left foot close to the right on beat 6. On seventh beat, take a small step with your right foot to the right. On the eighth beat, lift your left foot slightly up and do the hip motion with the left hip.
These were the steps for one of the dancers. The other dancer needs to follow the same steps with other feet while facing his/her partner. Practice these basic bachata dance steps first and then you can add variations to the dance as you reach the advanced levels.
Now that you know the basic steps, with time you may also learn more complicated steps of bachata. But more than the steps, it's about feeling the dance. Once you get hang of the steps, take your mind off the beats. Just follow the music and remember to add that grace to your movements that is the soul of Latin dance.