Salsa > Bachata Hips - Which technique is correct?

Discussion in 'Salsa' started by Imbrace, Jan 26, 2012.

  1. Imbrace

    Imbrace Member

    I attended a free bachata class last year in which the instructor explained the hips movement in the 4 & 8 counts as a result of the extension in the leg which is tapping caused by the tap.

    At 0:18 in this video however, the instructor talks about the hips movement as a natural result of having one leg bent and the other one straight. First I thought she is talking about the hips movement in 4 & 8, but then I realised it is about the steps themselves.

    However, at 0:58 in this video, she adds the hips of 4 & 8 without explaining it.

    How would you guys do the hips at tapping?

    Happy dancing,
  2. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    i doubt the technique for popping one's hips in bachata is discussed much in the latino culture where bachata is commonly danced, and IMHO it doesn't really matter because there is so much stylization that is & can be brought into the dance. the hip lift can occur with the foot of the lifting hip on the ground or completely lifted up with the knee.

    one thing i do know that is conveyed in authentic bachata classes, though, which i have never heard in a ballroom bachata lesson:

    women pop their hips, men don't. the bachata hip-pop is for the women.
  3. azzey

    azzey Member

    This is a very poor description of a well known technique (Cuban motion) as it doesn't tell you anything about where the body weight is. A tap is just a tap. IF you put the leg out to tap on 4 and 8 (the tap is optional in Bachata) that leg is bent and has no weight, so you're not really extending it. Lots of misleading description which has nothing to do with what you're looking for.

    That is a good description of Cuban motion. Although when I teach it I usually focus on the leg that straightens as that is the one that has the body weight on it.

    It is the same technique, known as Cuban motion, just that on 4 and 8 you are not stepping but you do change your body weight and hip movement.

    Bachata Body Isolation Part 1

    Perhaps this video will make it clearer. At 1:02 they are doing Cuban motion but not stepping, only changing body weight from foot to foot and the hips are moving.

    Cuban motion is a feature in all dancing (accentuated to varying degrees) as it's a natural feature of the way the body works.

    See 1:25 on the video I posted above, for the complete Bachata rhythm with hip movement. As you see there is no tapping or stepping there yet the hips move.

    The hips are as above. There are various options of what to do with the other foot. Tapping is only one option. If you always tap you can't do the other things which are often more interesting. Like getting a fluid hip motion while keeping both legs bent. To learn that though you really need experience on the social dance floor dancing with a good Bachata dancer. Tapping is a good place to start. A hip lift is another option. Start with the basics and get dancing.

  4. azzey

    azzey Member

    Latinos in general don't learn by going to classes and learning in a technical way. It is often handed down by doing. So often they are poor at explaining anything they do. Why discuss something that everybody does naturally? lol. It would be like us discussing walking.

    Having good basic motion does matter in Bachata as in any dance as that is a big part of dancing. All the stylization in the world won't help if your basic movement is bad.

    'Pop' can be a poor description of what happens, as it can be misinterpreted. Demonstration and correction is required. Though there is a difference between how men and women use their hips in Bachata it's best not to differentiate by using the word 'pop' ; In the video I posted above the teachers use the word 'pop' but both are doing the same motion. Which just leads to more confusion for beginners.
  5. Imbrace

    Imbrace Member

    Thank you for sharing your opinion :)
  6. Imbrace

    Imbrace Member

    azzey, I don't see that you understood what I was saying. I can be wrong though.

    I know that the tap is just a tap and the weight is on the other foot.
    I know that the tap is optional, but you can replace this teacher's 'tap' with 'extending leg from foot joint'

    I'll read the rest later on. I appreciate that you shared your thoughts. Thanks,
  7. azzey

    azzey Member

    I did understand you, you really need to watch the videos and read my post again. Then if you have further questions...
  8. azzey

    azzey Member

    Perhaps it's easier to see and believe if you see the end result..

    You can see all the motions put together at the end of video 2 at 3:20:

    Bachata Body Isolation Part 2 - all motions together

    as I said the "hip" motion is detailed at 1:25 in video 1 and then demonstrated in a full basic (which is what the girl in your video was doing):

    Bachata Body Isolation Part 2 - "hip"

    If you watch the guy, he's a little better at doing the hip action.
  9. samina

    samina Well-Known Member

    exactly, lolz. :)

    as far as what to call the woman's hip action...i like the word pop, think it can be accurate, if that's what she chooses to do. but there are other things she can do, too. :)

    but i agree, pick your words carefully to convey what you want to convey in a lesson.
  10. Imbrace

    Imbrace Member

    Excuse me if you think I'm not as fast learner as you might have expected :) I took some time watching some videos primarily the below two, and focusing on foot and hip works only.

    watch?v=Qs-hYIjPqHo (from 1:32)
    watch?v=-yaG-X4cl_o (from 1:02 & 1:53)

    I downloaded them and watched them more than once trying to figure out not only the pop-up in the counts 4 & 8, but in all the counts. You, azzey, said that they are all the same motion (Cuban motion). So I watched them and got confused, but slowing them down to 0.33x of their full speed, and repeating it several times with doing and redoing the drills, got me it (I think). The first video was clearer to me because Summer demonstrates this with her hack to the camera.

    What I see is the following:

    - The 1st pop-up happens as soon as they extend the leg with which they are stepping on 1 or 5. (The pop-up is obvious)
    - The 2nd pop-up happens when they transfer wait to that same leg. (less obvious)
    - The 3rd pop-up happens when they transfer wait to the leg making step 2 or 6 and begin to extend the leg making step 3 or 7. (obvious)
    - The 4th pop-up happens when they put wait on the leg making step 3 & 7 (obvious)
    - The 5th pop-up happens when they straighten the leg that made step 2 or 6 wich is now ready to make 1 or 5.

    You cannot see Summer's feet, but it looks to me she pivots out and in with her free foot to fasilitate the 4th & 5th respedtively.

    I think this makes more sense.

    Now I'm practicing these basic steps and need my muscles to absorb them before I add the chest and shoulder. Wow, it was hard :)

    Can you guide me to an instructional video for this fluid hip motion? I think you mean the same thing as the 'IE' phrase that Summer mentions at 1:42, don't you? (BTW, In this too short and overlaid part she does the pivot that I mentioned above so clearly) I searched for it but could not find.
  11. azzey

    azzey Member

    No no, just you yourself said you didn't read it all before replying. I am quite a patient teacher. ;)

    Good, this motion really is one of the most important aspects in Latin dances. Once you get this down all the body movement comes much more easily.

    Not exactly.. what I said was that they are all the same technique which is called "Cuban motion". When you compare one motion to another it may look different to you but the technique is often the same. Maybe the rhythm (e.g. the addition of a syncopation, the "and a"), the degree, the fluidity, or more usually what the rest of the body is doing may make it look different. Which is why we learn these things in isolation, separate from each other and then put them together.

    In fact all the body motions on the two isolation's videos are really all aspects of Cuban motion. Just that commonly it gets talked about in terms of the hips.

    Whereas this video shows hips and torso.

    Irene Miguel contra-body motion intro @ Salsa Bootcamp Βόλος

    Btw, don't bother looking at video on YouTube (other than the ones I've posted) trying to teach Cuban motion as most are really bad and will just confuse you.

    Anyway, back to Bachata...

    Looking at the hip : In this case there really are only two motions. (1) left hip up/out and (2) right hip up/out. Just when you introduce the Bachata rhythm, a syncopation (a half beat or "and") is used, which is an accent in the music too.

    To understand why the same hip movement looks different when you move: In the walk as demonstrated in the videos, obviously you only make 3 steps but you make 5 hip changes, like so 1,2,3,&,4. (& mean "and" here). Because you're not stepping on the & or 4 your body will be in a slightly different position and that's what makes the same hip motion look different, even though it's really the same technique.

    Yeah slowing it down will really help. Also you can only really fully understand things when you do it first, then understand later (it's the same for me). It's important to practice in front of a mirror (as well as the computer) so you can see what it really looks like. Obviously everybody's body is different and their amount of flexibility. Practice over time will increase your flexibility and control and make everything look more natural.

    I understand, the whole mirror image thing was difficult for me too when I'm learning something for the first time.

    That's broadly correct. Though in practice the actual hips sway and take time to transition from one side to another, which is why you notice these little differences.

    e.g. In Summer's video the 1st happens almost as soon as she extends the leg because she was already standing on the right foot when she starts and her hip is already right of centre anyway so doesn't have far to travel to far right.

    If you were dancing continuously the hip would be far left at that point (from the previous 4) so would have further to travel to far right on the 1.

    The timing of the movements in Summer's breakdown vary a little where they probably shouldn't, just because she's trying to teach and emphasise different elements at the same time as demonstrate from standing still.

    Yes a small pivoting action makes the movement more natural, which I also do when I dance Bachata. For me I prefer it more on the 4th with more of a pelvic thrust hip motion on the 5th, but then I'm a guy. :D

    See what's natural for you and then build on it.

    Yeah it can take time to get everything into muscle memory. However there's no point where your body should feel stressed, it should be natural and flowing relatively easily if you have timing right with your steps. That's why it's important just to try the hip motion on it's own first. Then just walk. Then walk+hip. Then walk+hip+&4. To see where you need to smooth things out, relax the body, or get the timing sharper.

    Here's a little test for you. Can you now do all those parts breaking the timing down into 1&2&3&4&1&2&3&4&. Because really there is a lot going on between the beats as well.

    Hint: 1 is when you touch your foot down and the & is when you've transferred your weight. They should all be equally spaced.

    If you can't don't worry about it, just practice whatever way works for you. Also don't forget to put some bachata music on and sync your dancing to the rhythm of the music! That really helps. When you pop the hip to the beat and get into a flow you will eventually start to improvise and change your basic rhythm a little to the music.

    I don't know of any instructional videos that focus on that aspect. Some workshops at congresses may go into that kind of detail if they're "masterclass" level. So many workshops cater to beginners rather than the finer points.

    I'm not talking about the ah-ee (IE), that's just a way of saying out loud the 4th and 5th hip motions. That artifact actually comes from Afro-cuban Rumba where the hip motion was synchronised to the rhythm of the Clave musical instrument. That's just a teaching tool to get you to say the rhythm verbally, that's all.

    No, what I'm talking about is when you stay low with the body while dancing with a partner doing the same hip motions and rhythm as you've learned but don't rise so much on the the 4th and 5th hip movement.

    Tapping tends to make the motion very staccato, which is great for some points in the music and dance. However if you just pivot instead of tapping and don't rise so much you can make the whole thing more fluid but still have the sharp hip movement on the 4th.

    Points in this are pretty close, though there's still more you can do.

    Since it requires good dynamic interpretation of the changes and accents in the rhythms of the music and good leading/following skills it's really something that needs to be learned by dancing with a good partner.

    If you're looking for more Bachata inspiration, take a look at my Bachata playlist:

    I haven't added to it much in a while but it should give you a good start and then you can find related videos.
  12. azzey

    azzey Member

    Once you think you've got the basic movement, just put on some good Bachata tracks that you like and practice grooving to the music. Feel the music & the movement, love it, lose yourself in it. It really is the best way to get the rhythm into your movement.
  13. Imbrace

    Imbrace Member

    I like a patient teacher ;)

    Unfortuanly not yet :(

    Oops, so it's ah-ee. I was wondering if she really says "I" but does pronounce it clearly :tongue: According to your description, I am looking for the low movement, not the ah-ee.

    Thank you very much for all good info and helpful videos.
  14. azzey

    azzey Member

    Btw, at 4:10 when Jorge says "and this is our version, we do upper body and lower body" IMO he doesn't do the upper body, although Sunny does, so you may notice a disparity between the two of them. He's more leading with the arms rather than the body, which is an option but not really a good demo of upper body movement. Bachata feels and looks much better when you move and lead with the upper body.

    If you have a lot of time you would probably find some interesting stuff (though probably not basic) in these Bachata Congress Workshops:

    People like Ataca & Alemana, Tony Lara & Daniela De Francesco, Troy & Jorjet, do a lot of Bachata workshops.

    Post back here if you find anything interesting.
  15. Imbrace

    Imbrace Member

    I thought that too :confused:

    Sure :D
  16. Ron AKA

    Ron AKA New Member

    Bachata is supposed to be a Dominican dance. Based on how I've seen it done in the Dominican Republic, they do not do that exaggerated hip pop on the 4th touch beat. Perhaps that comes from the American ballroom lessons. In DR they are much more focused on the footwork and Cuban hip action. The video below gives some idea.

    Also did not see the super close pelvis to pelvis stuff there either. That kind of limits what you can do with your feet.
    stepbystepsalsa likes this.
  17. Imbrace

    Imbrace Member

    Thank you for video. I saw a thread before in this forum about DR bachata, but I don't see it done around me, and like the famous style more.
  18. Imbrace

    Imbrace Member

    Girls thank me and I thank you

    Hi everyone who helped me in understanding the hip movement in bachata, and a special 'hi' to azzey.

    Recently I have had a couple of opportunities to do intermediate bachata classes. In the last class, we had a shortage of one girl, so at any given time one guy has to stay without a partner. When it was my turn to dance with the air, I thought to myself let me see how other combinations of couples do. I saw some guys walking like a crow and other interesting things that I would not have been able to see if I was continuously dancing. I thought "Won .. it looks like I'm the best" :eek:

    All my partners except 1 were thanking me almost every single time we changed partners including the teacher. I thought of passing these 'thank you's to you :)
  19. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Hi Imbrace. Dont know which style you do refer to, but in traditional Bachata there is only one kind of hip isolation either of the DP should show:


    ( the pop-up is only done in the north-american communities. Where are you from?)
  20. Imbrace

    Imbrace Member

    Thanks opendoor. I prefer the common version of bachata. This DR bachata looks like jive in terms of a lot of complicated footwork but a little connection with partner.

    In tango, tango Argentine happened to be the biggest scene in the whole world, including Europe, the land of ballroom tango. But in bachata, DR bachata happened to be the smallest scene in the world including South America as far as I have seen. Both happenings are good for those who enjoy the connection :)

    See how stunning Stellan and Tanya are. BTW Stellan and I look like sharing similar attitudes while dancing.

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