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Bachata Jack & Jill Judging Criteria

What do Judges look for?

Judging is never intended to punish a competitor for weaker skills. Rather, the spirit is to recognize competence in the different categories explained in this training, for the purpose of supporting and growing a strong, healthy bachata community.

There will be five distinct areas for judging.

For Novice

1. Timing (30%)

2. Technique (30%)

3. Connection (30%)

4. Musicality (10%)

Note: Competitors in the novice category are expected to display strong dance foundation as reflected in the heavy weightage in Timing, Technique & Connection. Competitors in the intermediate category are expected to develop and display skills beyond fundamentals.

Judges are able to differentiate between bachata and other dances, as well as various accepted styles of Bachata. All styles of Bachata are accepted (for example, Dominican, Modern, Fusion, Sensual) as long as they are danced with the accepted timing outlined below.


1. Timing

The recognized timing for bachata is 1-2-3-4. The basic dance sequence consists of three steps and then a tap or various forms of step syncopations (such as the “double step”). The tap is done on the opposite foot of the last step, while the next step is taken on the same foot as the tap. The dance direction may change after the tap or fourth step. Bachata can be danced on any beat of the musical phrase as long as the basic dance sequence (three steps and then a tap \ syncopation) is maintained (for example, to dance On2, one may start on the 2nd beat of the musical phrase, with the tap landing on the 1st beat). Any recognized timing is acceptable, but once established, should not fluctuate. Dancers will be scored according to their ability and precision to stay on the recognized timing while executing the dance.

Beyond the basic 20% to 30 % of the score allotted for timing, timing also affects the judging of all other categories. Therefore, judges may also lower scores for technique, connection, difficulty, and presentation when elements in those categories are not danced on time.


2. Technique

Technique can be further differentiated into 2 categories, General Dance Technique and Bachata Technique.

General Dance Technique: General Dance Technique is reflected through balance, placement and line. This refers also to general technique for partner dance, where the movement is “grounded”, and there is clarity of proper weight changes from foot to foot. Movement should appear to be both clear and effortless.

Bachata Technique: Does the competitor show strong technique reflecting their respective bachata style.  Meaning technique and/or body styling that is specific to modern, sensual or traditional bachata respectively.


3. Connection

Connection can be further divided or inferred from these two components:

Lead/Follow technique: Partner centering and synchronicity of movement.

Partner compatibility/awareness: Compatible musical interpretation, adjusting personal styles to compliment the partnership as well as adjusting to a partner’s limitations or strengths.


4. Musicality

Musicality can be split further into 3 separate components.

Basic Musicality (Rhythm & Phrasing): Basic musicality includes phrasing, measuring movements, and the appropriate use of breaks. This category moves beyond basic on-time dancing, and includes syncopations, speed changes, and strategically using movements to “hit” or demonstrate certain elements of the music. Dancers are expected to be dancing on time while displaying their musicality.

Structure: Creates a strong opening and ending. The start and end of the dance should fit the music (e.g., sharp or smooth; still or travelling). Reflect the changes in energy level and polyrhythm (i.e., derecho, majao & mambo) of each song segment (e.g., intro, verse, chorus, bridge, outro) through variation of footwork, syncopations as well as turn patterns (e.g., contrast of smooth and sharp or fast to slow) while maintaining continuity (i.e. harmonious flow from one pattern to another).

Musical Interpretation: Musical interpretation is how the dancer hears the song. BDC recognizes that every dancer hears music differently, and therefore does not judge competitors down for having a different interpretation of the music, provided that the competitor is on time and is able to clearly display the layer of the music they are expressing through footwork variations, turn patterns or aesthetics.


5. Presentation

Presentation is a competitor’s ability to entertain, excite, and inspire an audience. This will include, dressing, showmanship, entertainment value, floor craft and sportsmanship.


6. Difficulty

Difficulty refers to the level of technical or musical difficulty in the dance. This might be reflected in the complexity of the turn pattern, intricacy of footwork as well as movements that requires exceptional strength, flexibility, or balance (such as during lifts or dips). Credit will be given only if the moves are executed successfully and on-time or to the music.

Judges will give credit to the added level of difficulty when competitors dance wearing high heels. Judges will deduct points if the use of high heels impact the competitor’s technique, timing, and/or teamwork.

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