Question by User ThatGirl
So I’m looking to learn how to dance bachata and dancing in general and my question is how do you all move your feet so easily? I have cement feet that stick to the ground and that’s the only thing that gets in the way of my movements. I watch videos of dancers and try to copy there movements and I get the hip and upper body movements but my foot work is horrible. To get over that, Is it just by repetition or are there stretches or exercises to help with foot work? Thanks in advance!
Disclaimer: I do rhythm rumba but learning bachata is on the list. With dancing in general, speed comes with muscle memory and practice. So, start slow and step by step without music at first. As you increase speed, it will appear less robotic and flow as you add music back in.
Foot work is more important than hips. Cuban motion (hips) come from your bending of one knee and straightening of the other knee. Therefore, transferring of weight is very important in terms of footwork! Upper body styling comes in once you get the footwork and hips down.
Remember toe (1), heel (2), knee (3), hip(4):
1) Step with the inside edge, ball of your foot and apply light pressure to that point. This is the side of your big toe, not under it. Keep in mind that most of the pressure you exert is still on your standing leg. You have not transferred weight yet.
2) Put your heel down. Still haven’t transferred weight yet.
3) Straighten your knee and transfer weight. This is now your standing leg.
4) Move your hip of the standing leg back. So steps 1-4 look like a rolling action in a way.
5) Drag your other leg to close. Repeat toe, heel, knee, hip for this leg too. Squeeze your thighs. On the foot you drag, remember to keep it inside edge, ball of the foot. It looks nicer and eliminates the hole between your legs.
Tip: whatever leg you step with is the side of the hip you throw back. This all make a figure 8 as you increase speed.
Bachata isn’t so much Cuban motion as it derives from a similar ancestor, the bolero, but is NOT a descendant of any of the folkloric Cuban dances.
Technique-wise… when you focus on the hips, it becomes too much like son, rumba. When you focus on footwork, especially at your level you’re going to go crazy.
Instead think about being balanced. If you want to “free your feet,” think about where your weight is on your foot. As the previous commenter wrote- it does matter whether it’s on the ball or heel of your foot. HOWEVER, unlike rhythm rumba (which sounds like it’s coming from a ballroom perspective– which true, traditional bachata is DEFINITELY not) or salsa: the commitment of your weight in bachata is more relaxed. You’re never completely on your toes and your weight can be distributed between both legs as well as between your toes and heel.
What does this mean for you?? As you begin your bachata journey, try to feel grounded and think about connecting with the music. It’s ok to lean back, especially as you dance with your partner. Try simple syncopations at first like 1-2-3-4-&. Add a cha cha to your 4 count basic. Listening to more traditional music like Luis Segura, Joan Soriano, etc. helps as well
Check out this Youtube Channel !
change your shoes. i have an old pair of dress shoes and the soles are perfect for dancing. i accidentally forgot to change them one night and wore shoes with much stickier bottoms. could barely move my feet. i also tell girls i’m bringing to never wear rubber soled shoes or boots.
try going to a different venue. some clubs sprinkle a little bit of powder on the ground that allows you to slide much better. sometimes a venue is a high school gym, and those floors are designed to provide [too much] traction.
are you dancing on the balls of your feet? most rapid movements the heels never touch the ground. Ideally they look like they do, but you could still slide a paper under the heel easily.