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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 below, for the purpose of supporting and growing a strong, healthy bachata community.

The first 3 categories are considered the most important criteria for novice levels and should be considered a priority before rewarding categories 4, 5 and 6.

For Novice

1. Timing 

2. Technique 

3. Teamwork 

4. Variety

5. Contrast

6. Showmanship/Musicality

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. Dancers will be scored according to their ability and precision to stay on the recognized timing while executing the dance.

Beyond the basic 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/Teamwork

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. Variety

Variety is the spice of life.....and dance.  Once your basic skills are competant, it's time to add variation.

5. Contrast

6. Showmanship/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. Judges recognize 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.

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