If you’re reading this article is probably because you might be concerned about the common mistakes followers make in bachata.
If you’re a bachata dancer and in this case a follower, perhaps you would like to improve yourself, work on your bad habits. Or maybe you feel bad because :
- you don’t see any progress,
- you don’t know what is wrong with you,
- you don’t know what you should focus your attention on.
Let me tell you first, you’re not the only one in this case, we all have done these mistakes once. Me first and still today so don’t worry 🙂
However, be aware of these mistakes will allow you to be focus on what you should work on. And with this article, you will know what you should avoid and how to do it !
Note : this article is part of my bachata challenge “52 weeks for 52 bachata tips, if you want to have a look !
1. Don’t be heavy
One of the common mistakes followers make in bachata is being heavy. For me, it was, for example, my main mistake at the beginning. Now, I have actually corrected this bad habit. Even if it’s still not perfect but much better than before.
So being heavy as a follower it’s when you put all your weight on the leader. When you don’t support yourself.
You need to be able to find a balance between supporting your own weight and actually connecting with your partner.
Don’t expect him to do all the job, you need to help him to execute the move without doing for him.
Practical example :
If the leader has to rise your arm up, it shouldn’t feel your arm heavy, it shouldn’t cost him energy to do it.
Tips/exercisesWork on your weight transfer to control your weight, to get self supporting, to know how you need to position your body,
Work on your posture, frame,
Brenda Liew is a famous latin dancer who gives excellent technique tips if needing,
Do connection exercises, ask your teacher for examples,
Be patient, and you will see the results will come.
2. Don’t have “Spaghetti” arms
On the other hand, having “spaghetti” arms is one of the other common mistakes followers do in bachata.
You just need to put a little bit of tension, energy through your arms and fingers but not be tense.
If your arms are like spaghetti, it is very hard to lead you anything and very uncomfortable for the leaders.
If the leader grabs your forearm in order to lead you a body wave, your arm should be extended. And if you are in open position doing just basics steps, have normal arms, bended a bit with just enough tension and not going to all directions.
But don’t worry, it takes time, and with practice, you will make it !
Tips/exercisesTry to activate your arms (putting energy), connect your arms to your shoulders, to your body. If your arm is moving, your hips and feet should move too.
3. Don’t anticipate the move
One of the other common mistakes followers make in bachata : anticipating the moves.
I know it could be sometimes stressful to dance with a partner in social or in class. But if the leader intends to do a move you know, don’t try to finish it on your own.
Because, for one specific move, there are so many variations starting the same way but ending in so many different ways, you just can’t guess.
Practical example :
For a turn, the leader should do a preparation. He’s gonna rise your arm, to indicate you something is gonna happen (a turn). And probably you would think, “oh ok, he’s leading me a normal turn“. But instead, he was only intending to lead you a half turn to finish in back/chest position. Because you haven’t listened and followed, it’s too late, you’re already facing him. Oops 🙂 Don’t worry, it happens to everyone 😉
Tips/exercisesWait for the signal, until you actually can execute the move.
Do not rush the time, don’t freak out, just breathe and relax.
Focus your attention on listening, feeling and following.
If the leader is doing fine, you should be right, promise !
4. Don’t do backleading
It’s one of the common mistakes during classes. Because you’ve seen the move from your teacher, you know exactly what you should be doing. And you start doing the move on your own. Unfortunately, It doesn’t really help anyone to learn properly.
This is so important to listen and follow what the leader is doing. In that way, he can be aware of what he’s doing right or wrong. And same thing for you, you will have the sensation in your body of what you should feel when the leader do certain moves, in the right or wrong way.
Plus, normally as you listen the leader, you should calibrate your answer.
Practical example :
If the partner leads you a small dip, your head shouldn’t reach the floor. That’s a bit exaggerating but just for you to understand 🙂
Don’t forget the purpose of a partner dance : one leader and one follower dancing together.
But if you’d like to lead, that’s cool! It’s actually a great way to improve and understand the leader part. I highly encourage you to do it if you’re interested in. I personally took few classes to start leading and it has helped so much to understand what the leader has to go through.
And if you would like to get more tips to improve yourself, I highly recommend you to read my article : How to improve your bachata dancing.
Be sensitive and respond accordingly to the leading,
Practice in class and social,
And why not trying to start leading few steps !
5. Don’t overstyle
I know how much is important for the followers to style, to have this freedom, this moment when we actually can do what we want with our arms, hands, head… But it never should interfere with the leading. Follow should be your number one priority.
That’s a very common mistake followers make in bachata when they start to improve themselves, to be more confident on the dance floor.
That’s a great thing but you need to find the right moment to style without interrupting the leading.
Practical example :
If the leader asks for your hand, it shouldn’t wait more than few counts for you to finish your arm styling. Indeed, there are specific counts when you actually can style.
I’m personally right here in my bachata journey. Now i understand how following works, I’m trying to implement a bit of styling. And yes, this is not easy but practice makes better !
Tips/exercisesIn social, you can do some tests, try to style when you feel that’s the right moment,
For example, one simple turn without styling and same turn with styling,
So practice and practice…
You can also ask for advice, take specific classes with a teacher.
6. Don’t rely too much on the leader
Other common mistake : you shouldn’t rely too much on the leader. Of course, he has a big responsibility in the dance. That’s him who composes the dance (like a song), he choose the moves and initiate them.
But you should be aware of :
- your balance, sometimes yes, some leaders put the followers out of balance but sometimes it’s just our fault (typical example for turns)
- your space, even if the leader needs to be the first aware of the space, you should be aware too when it comes to style, or stepping
- your timing and musicality, the leader is not the only one who should pay attention to the timing. Why?
- Practical example : when the leader decides to release your hand and this is your time to shine, you want to be able to control the situation and stepping on time.
- Personally, I’ve never counted and this is bad 🙂 I should work on it 😉
Try to step on the balls of your feet,
Work on your weight transfer, posture and frame.
Check the space before styling, if you want to extend your arm, have a look around before doing it. It could save you from accidents 😉
Don’t do too big steps.
Try to count during the dance,
Try to practice at home and dance alone on a whole song counting each 8.
7. Don’t be focus only on technique
We all know this is important to master the technique, certain moves and execute them nicely during the dance. But don’t be too serious !
It shouldn’t keep you away from the connection with the leader, having a good time, smiling and just being present in the moment. This is the purpose of a partner dance right? And if we’re thinking about something else, technique or whatever, we loose that special time, that connection so special between the leader, the music and ourself.
Tips/exercisesDon’t forget to enjoy first, enjoy the music, the moment,
Don’t overthink just relax,
Try to make eyes contact. Touch your partner in a nicely way without being too intimate of course 😛
To finish, have a look to that funny video with the worst followers examples in salsa. It also applies to bachata 🙂
Thanks for reading me. I really hope, you have an overview of the common mistakes followers make in bachata and some tips to avoid them. If you think about other things or you want to share your experience i would love to hear from you. Stay tuned 😉